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Dr Julie Robson

Profile summary

Professional biography

With a background in sedimentology, biostratigraphy, palynology, soil science and hydrogeology, my career to date has been broad and varied, spanning Earth and Environmental Science. After posts at the Universities of Bristol and Kingston upon Thames, I worked in industry as a geophysical analyst of well logs, a hydrogeologist in the waste management industry and as a consultant engineering geologist.

I joined the Open University initially in 1979 as a Residential School Tutor then built a portfolio teaching career across Access to final year undergraduate courses in the Earth and Environmental Science curriculum.

I am currently a Senior Lecturer and the Lead Staff Tutor for the School of Environment, Earth and Ecosystem Sciences, based at the Open University's Edinburgh Office in Scotland.

Research interests

My core research interests centre around carbonate and clastic sedimentology and biostratigraphy, but my working life has broadened these into other areas including:

  • Hydrology of waste management sites and their  relationhsip to aquifers
  • Geohazards and their mitigation, with reference to site investigations and landslides
  • Resource  use and acquisition, their effects on the environment

Teaching interests

I teach across the Earth and Environmental Science curriculum including; geohazards, field skills, general Environmental Science and Geology. Teaching contributions include project work, field skills, the nuclear legacy, multidisciplinary aspects of Rare Earth Element resources and their use, climate change and soil science.

Student support and the pedagogy of learning are two interests close to my heart and are reflected in numerous scholarship projects. I am the current co-lead on an eSTEeM project: “Online peer mentoring at scale: Benefits and impacts from a student buddy perspective” evaluating the experience of students who peer-mentor others in an asynchronous online environment. Other projects examined the impact of online tuition delivery on tutors and the use of mobile technologies in real-time, interactive field work teaching.

Impact and engagement

I regularly contribute to outreach and engagement events including;

Representing the Open University at the annual London Geological Society's Careers day and Science and the Parliament (organised by the Royal Society of Chemistry), both in Edinburgh. The latter aims to bring Scientific institutions together with policy makers to showcase their work on a targeted theme.

Glasgow Science Festival  provides opportunities to take interactive Science activities to the public on themes such as "Sticks and Stones; from rocks to plants and the importance of soil.

I also regularly visit schools with outreach activities on rocks and fossils.

I was the lead organiser of a two-day Science Showcase event at Dynamic Earth Edinburgh in October 2019, which included a series of talks,  activities and opportunities for the public to "Meet the scientists" involved with BBC co-productions.

Since 2015 I have been an active member of the programme committee for the UK Horizons in STEM conference promoting all aspects of Science teaching, learning and pedagogy, as well as a regular contributor of talks and posters.



I am the English Language Editor and a reviewer for the Journal "Geologia Croatica" a post I have held for over 20 years during which time the impact and readership of the Journal has grown and flourished.


Towards Best Practice In Designing Sustainable Online Peer Mentoring At Scale - What’s In It For The Mentors? (2023-10-27)
Robson, Julie and Hutton, Christopher
In : “Yes we can!” - Digital Education for Better Futures (EDEN 2023 Annual Conference) (18-20 Jun 2023, Dublin, Ireland) (pp. 149-155)

Practical or data-based projects? Types of undergraduate capstone projects chosen by distance-learning biology and environmental science students at the Open University (2022)
Gauci, Hannah; Robson, Julie; Golding, Jon and Wallace, Janette
In : Horizons in STEM Higher Education Conference Making Connections, Innovating and Sharing Pedagogy (29-30 Jun 2022, London) (p 99)

Live field broadcasts: Moving from optional additions to required assessment (2018)
Collins, Trevor; Cooke, Julia; Wheeler, Philip; Maseyk, Kadmiel and Robson, Julie
In : The 7th eSTEeM Annual Conference 2018 - STEM Futures: Delivering Excellence Through Scholarship (25-26 Apr 2018, The Open University, Milton Keynes, UK)

What drives student participation in online tutorials? (2017-02)
Hayley-Mirnar, Vikki; Halliwell, Catherine and Robson, Julie
In : HEA STEM Conference 2017 (1-2 Feb 2017, Manchester Conference Centre)

Evaluating remote access to fieldwork with interactive fieldcasts for distance learning students (2017)
Robson, Julie; Cooke, Julia; Wheeler, Philip; Maseyk, Kadmiel and Collins, Trevor
In : The 6th eSTEeM Annual Conference (25-26 Apr 2017, The Open University, Walton Hall, Milton Keynes)