Favourite Thing: Fieldwork!! I don’t get to do anywhere nearly enough fieldwork but it’s always so much fun to camp in really remote places where hardly any people ever go!!
Newbold Green School (now Newbold Community School), Chesterfield, 1990-1997
BSc Geology at the University of Liverpool, 1997-2000; PhD in Volcanology at Lancaster University, 2000-2004; MSc in Geographical Information Science (GIS), 2006-2007
Chesterfield Primary Care Trust and Erewash Borough Council in Derbyshire.
British Geological Survey (part of the Natural Environment Research Council)
GIS Programmer / Analyst
Me and my work
I am a geologist, a volcano specialist and a geographical information scientist!!
Describing my job in a single sentence is impossible because it’s so varied – and that’s why i love it! The geologist part of my job means I study rocks and try to work out what they are made of, how old they are and where they came from. Why? Well the rocks that make up the Earth beneath our feet are hugely variable – some have precious resources in them which can improve the quality of our lives, such as mineral resources, construction materials, gemstones, fossil fuels for energy and even water. Some rocks may pose a hazard to us – they may contain radioactive chemicals or be prone to collapse causing damage to buildings and roads. And some rocks can help to tell us about the past – what life was like thousands or millions of years ago and what was the climate like. We can use this knowledge to help us predict what the future might be like.
As a geographical information scientist (GIS) I use clever computer programmes to create maps and 3-dimensional models of the rocks beneath us to help us better understand and visualise what is going on underneath our feet. These maps and models are used by a huge range of people. For example, construction industries use the maps to work out where the ground is stable enough to build on, whilst quarrying companies may use the maps to see where the best mineral resources are.
And finallly……my special interest is in volcanoes and I was lucky enough to study a volcano in Chile in South America for 3 years whilst I was studying for my PhD. Although there are no volcanoes in Britain, we can still be affected by nearby volcanoes, as we saw with the volcanic ash cloud that has blown over the UK from Iceland over the past couple of months. We have to ensure that the Government gets the most up-to-date news of what is happening with the volcano.
My Typical Day
Well the good thing about my job is that i can pretty much decide exactly what work i do and when i do it!! At the moment i’m working on about 5 different projects so it’s up to me which projects I work on each week. It means i have to be very organised and very motivated. It also means i need to speak regularly with the other people working on the projects, especially the project manager, to check what pieces of work needs to be done and by when. It’s then up to me to make a timetable of all the different work that I need to do and when by and try and organise my week so that I spend equal amounts of time on each project!
I do most of my work at my desk in front of a computer because I need specialist computer programmes for creating the 3D models. Sometimes if I need to do some quiet work and get away from the rest of the people in the office, i take my laptop to the library and work there.
I also have to keep a close eye on my emails and on my telephone because I often get asked to help people with any problems they have using some of the specialist computer programmes we use. I really enjoy this part of my job because it usually involves someone turing up at my desk unannounced and asking for help and it gives me a great deal of satisfaction to know that I have helped someone with their work. I don’t always know the answers to their questions, but it’s always a great challenge to try and figure out the solution!
What I'd do with the money
Use it to go and visit some volcanoes in Italy!
I am planning a trip to a group of volcanic islands off the North coast of Sicily and since I don’t get to do as much field work as I would like to, the money will go towards having a proper explore arund the volcanoes!
How would you describe yourself in 3 words?
Who is your favourite singer or band?
I like pretty much anything but the only music guaranteed to get me to dance is drum and bass or dubstep…waaam waaam waaam, buddum dum dum, bounce
What is the most fun thing you've done?
Camped on a volcano in Chile, for 2 months and watched huge condors circling above me!
If you had 3 wishes for yourself what would they be? - be honest!
just one – to fully know how you come across to others. that’s something i will never truly know
What did you want to be after you left school?
Pathologist! That was before i realised you had to spend about 7 years at university to become a pathologist (i.e. someone who works out how you died!!). And after all that……I spent 8 years at university in total!!
Were you ever in trouble at school?
No of course not….and even if i was, I wouldn’t tell you about it ;-)
What's the best thing you've done as a scientist?
6 weeks in Iceland camping on the beach and studying the geology – we even built our own shelter in the time we were there!
Tell us a joke.
Where do you find a one-legged dog?……Where you left it……BOOM BOOM