Ann Webb

Ann is a Professor and Associate Dean for Graduate Education. She is also involved in research in the Centre for Atmospheric Science.

I like enthusiastic students and the satisfaction of achieving understanding of a difficult concept – that spark of recognition, and smile of relief, when students “get it”.

Sunshine and Skin

I am concerned with solar radiation – sunshine – which sometimes necessitates leaving Manchester! I study what happens to radiation on its way through the atmosphere, and the effects that it has both within the atmosphere and when it reaches the surface.

My particular interest is in ultraviolet radiation and its effects on humans. In the atmosphere we look at the interactions of radiation with ozone, clouds and aerosols. The effect I study most is vitamin D synthesis in the skin, which involves me in collaborative projects with the School of Medicine.

My research has its basis in the physical and atmospheric sciences with the measurement of solar radiation at its core, predominantly spectral measurements at ultraviolet (UV) wavelengths, but also other wavebands and alternative measurement techniques.

I work at the interface between describing and understanding our (UV) radiation environment and explaining its effects on biological systems.

A highflying career

My favorite fieldtrip was to Ny Alesund, the Arctic Research base on Svalbard – I’m still hoping to get to the Antarctic one day.

A literal high would be gaining my pilot’s license, so that I could fly our small research aircraft, a Cessna 182.

I enjoy being in the ‘doing’ phase of a project. Developing a hypothesis and planning how to test it is stimulating, and the final analysis that proves the hypothesis, or opens up a whole new investigation, is very satisfying, but I most enjoy performing the experiment, especially if it involves fieldwork, preferably to a new and exciting place.

My measure of success

By the time students graduate they should be telling me how to do things, not the other way around. We are training students to be independent researchers, with all the skills that that requires – in addition to their expertise in the topic of their thesis; to change from being led to being leaders.

What I enjoy most

I like enthusiastic students and the satisfaction of achieving understanding of a difficult concept – that spark of recognition, and smile of relief, when students “get it”.

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