Scottish Alliance for Geoscience, Environment and Society

Savanna van Mesdag

Research interests:

I am interested in many different areas of science, including different aspects of geoscience, such as environmental geoscience, mineralogy and geochemistry.

Career history:

I am currently carrying out a PhD at the University of Glasgow, in the School of Geographical and Earth Sciences. As I have a BSc in Animal Biology (Edinburgh Napier, graduated in 2017) and an MSc in Taxonomy and Biodiversity (Imperial College London and the Natural History Museum, graduated in 2018), I am combining my previous experience in the biological sciences with the study of geochemistry, mineralogy and similar disciplines to find out more about the scientific value of steel slag sites in the UK. I also have much volunteer experience, for organisations such as the RSPB (Royal Society for the Protection of Birds), RZSS (Royal Zoological Society of Scotland and the SWT (Scottish Wildlife Trust).

Active research projects:

Anthropogenic biodiversity and geodiversity – can legacy industrial waste help offset falling global biodiversity?

My current PhD research focusses on the geodiversity and biodiversity present on steel slag sites (where steel slag (including blast furnace slag) has been dumped). I am concentrating my efforts on two sites, one of which is close to Ravenscraig, the former steelworks. These legacy steel slag sites are not only interesting and valuable from a social perspective, but they have unusual geochemistry and substrate characteristics which could potentially support unusual and/or interesting biodiversity.

Recent publications:

Van Mesdag, S.N., Den Blaauwen, J., Dean, M.N. and Johanson, Z., 2020. Hyperossification in the vertebral column of Devonian placoderm fishes (Arthrodira). Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology, p.e1766477. (Based on work from my MSc dissertation, along with futher research.)

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