MSc Quaternary Science
Place of Work: School of Geographical, Earth and Environmental Science at the University of Birmingham
Position: Reader in Organic Geochemistry
What does your current position involve?
Managing a research group and laboratory. Writing proposals and generating research income from UK and international funding councils, agencies and charities. Publishing research articles. Designing and teaching new undergraduate lecture classes. I have participated on six palaeoclimatological field campaigns in Scotland, Japan and China (leading three) and four oceanographic research cruises. In 2010 I was the Organic Geochemist on IODP Expedition 318 to Wilkes Land, Antarctica and I am lead coordinator of the post-cruise organic geochemical analyses.
I love that I’m working in a field that is moving fast, that is relevant and important. It’s a cliché, but the past is the key to the future. Atmospherically speaking.. we’re going back to the future. In terms of CO2, we now have a Pliocene atmosphere and we’re heading rapidly towards the Eocene!
How did you come to get that position?
- 1998-1999: Through my MSc laboratory project at Royal Holloway (supervised by Prof. Mark Maslin) I made contact with my future PhD supervisor at Durham (Prof. Toni Rosell-Mele). Subsequently I progressed via:
- 1999-2003: A NERC funded PhD in Palaeoceanography and Organic Geochemistry at Durham.
- 2003-2005: A Royal Society Research Fellowship, in partnership with the Japanese Society for the Promotion of Science (JSPS) at Hokkaido University, Japan.
- 2005-2007: A UK-IODP PDRA at the University of Bristol (Organic Geochemistry Unit, School of Chemistry. Principle Investigators: Dr Richard Pancost and Dr Mark Maslin.)
- 2007-2012: Lectureship and group leader. School of Geographical and Earth Sciences. University of Glasgow.
How do you think your degree has helped you?
I had no plan to be a scientist when I graduated with my undergraduate degree (BSc Geography). After working for several years in advertising I decided to return to do the MSc at Royal Holloway. I couldn’t have got the PhD place without it!
Do you have any advice for current students?
If you want a career in academia, you have to be driven by curiosity. Don’t be afraid to step out of the comfort zone or move in different intellectual, analytical directions, between the MSc, PhD and post-docs. The MSc is a great launch pad, but just scratches the surface. Palaeoclimate is now a huge field.