A University of Exeter health geographer has been recognised through a prestigious award from the Royal Geographical Society (RGS).  

Dr Sarah Bell has received the Gill Memorial Award from the RGS for her notable early career contributions to geography. 

Sarah’s research focuses on mental health, wellbeing, disability, and social inclusion in and with diverse forms of ‘nature’ – from parks, gardens, woodlands, coast and countryside to the weather and seasons. 

Her work also highlights the need to complement growing moves to ‘connect’ people with nature in the name of ‘health’, with efforts to cope with and adapt to experiences of environmental degradation, loss, and uncertainty in the face of our rapidly changing global climate. 

Since 1832, the Society annually recognises excellence in geographical research and fieldwork, teaching and public engagement and this year, Sarah has been awarded for her outstanding early career research. 

Sarah, a Senior Lecturer in Health Geography at the European Centre for Environment and Human Health, said: “I’m incredibly touched to be receiving this award. Being part of the RGS – and particularly the Geographies of Health and Wellbeing Research Group – means a huge amount to me. It provides a disciplinary home of supportive, thoughtful and insightful geographers to work, think, and learn with. I’d like to say a huge thank you to the RGS, to my family, and to the brilliant colleagues and collaborators that I’ve been so lucky to work with over the last few years. This award is very much a reflection of our combined efforts!” 

For almost 200 years, these prestigious medals and awards have recognised the outstanding achievements of geographers. Neil Armstrong, Sir David Attenborough, Sylvia Earle, Simon King, Neil Oliver, Professor Lord Nicholas Stern and Professor Edward O Wilson are among the previous recipients. 

Professor Sallie Lamb, Pro-Vice Chancellor of the University of Exeter’s Faculty of Health and Life Sciences, said: “Huge congratulations to Sarah on being recognised with this award. This is an amazing achievement and is testament to our world-leading research in our Environment and Human Health, based in Truro, Cornwall. The research unit is a World Health Organisation collaborating centre on natural environment and health, recognising the significant contribution to science and policy-making on the interconnections between environment and human health.”