Becoming an Expert: Samuel Pownall

The ATLAS experiment at CERN

becoming an expert Pownell

Placing a value on the effect that the sight of a secluded rural landscape has on a person or community seems like an impossible task, but this is precisely the question that Marine Biology student, Samuel Pownall, is attempting to address.

Samuel’s research aims to explore the relationship between coastal environments and human health, and comes at a time when government policy is looking at the ways in which ecosystems services – the variety of ways the environment can sustain and enrich human life – can have social and economic implications.

Samuel, from the School of Environmental Sciences, explains: “Placing an economic value on ecosystems services is a way of showing the serious impacts that the continued degradation of the environment can have on human health and wellbeing. If we can put a value on nature it may provide a powerful incentive for politicians to act on the promises they have made on protecting our planet.”

Gathering data

Through an online survey of human responses to the environment, Samuel aims to gather data on how people believe the coastal environment influences their health and well being and what monetary value they place on it.

Samuel said: “The best way at getting at how valuable the environment is to health and wellbeing is to simply ask members of the public how seeing an animal in their natural environment or playing with their children on a beach makes them feel, and how it would impact on their lives if this was no longer accessible.

“The aim of my research is to inform policy makers of what we stand to lose if we don’t recognise the importance of the environment in our daily lives. Human well-being cannot be directly measured, so we have to use values, such as what it would be in monetary terms, to encourage policy makers to take action in preserving our natural world for the good of the people that stand to gain personally by it.”

To take part in the research please visit the online survey at:

Samuel is originally from Wolverhampton and is in his third year of study of a Marine Biology degree at the School of Environmental Sciences. He hopes to continue his studies at postgraduate level, following a gap year after he graduates this year.

becoming and expert pownall

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