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Broad Subject Area/s
Reader in Polar Geodesy
Science, Technology, Engineering or Maths
Education and route to your job
I did a Bachelor of Surveying at the University of Tasmania, Australia. I liked maths, physics and computers, but didn't want to be like a sheep and do engineering like everyone else! I then did an honours year (like a UK Masters) and then a PhD. During my PhD I spent 5 months in Antarctica. About a week of that time I was flat on my back on my bunk with sea-sickness, but otherwise it was amazing! After that, I got a postdoctoral research position at Newcastle Uni here in the UK and that's where I've been since, although Iv'e since been promoted to Reader.
Job route: typical, unusual, or a bit of both?
Day in the Life
Most days you can find me in my office. I like getting into the field, but with family its harder and most of the fieldwork I do is in Antarctica! So I tend to send people into the field or collaborate with others collecting the data. I work on computers (sometimes a large number of them) to analyse the data and produce information about how things are moving - from glaciers to the Earth's crust. I write papers and present my work at international conferences, like the ones every year in San Francisco and Vienna. I teach undergraduate students about the Global Positioning System (GPS) and how it can be used to do more than SatNav - in fact we use it to measure down to 1mm and movements of the Earth's surface to less than 1mm/yr! I'm perhaps most proud of the work I've done on looking at how glaciers in Antarctica respond to the ocean tides - it turns out that very small changes due to the tide lifting up the front of the glacier can produce a big effect felt more than 100km inland. This tells us that these glaciers are finely tuned and helps us work out how they may respond in the future. I also do some work with schools - I've taught 6th formers about sea level change. It's always good to help people understand something for the first time, especially when it's as relevant to us all as sea level change.
10 - Couldn't be happier
Life outside work
My family make sure I stay busy outside work - my wife and 3 lovely (mostly) little girls! Together we're also part of a church which started recently and has grown a lot since (http://www.htg.org.uk).
Other ways to decribe your job
field and office
I'm the first person in my extended family to go to University, so this is very much outside the norm for us. My family encouraged me in education, and I think if they'd had their time again they would have been at Uni - opportunities to go to Uni are a lot better these days!
What attracted you to your career?
I wanted to do a job that was both indoors and outdoors. I started with a degree in land surveying (aka geomatics) which is a great mix of these things. I worked in what was then the largest underground tin mine in the southern hemisphere for one year of my degree. I really loved the research parts of my degree and so went on to do a PhD, going from working in a dark and dirty environment (mining) to one full of light and pristinely clean - Antarctica. I found that I could use my skills as a surveying to map and position things was really useful in understanding the changes going on in the Antarctic Ice Sheet. Since ~1997 that's what's kept me busy and I still really love it.
21K - 25K
91K or more
Employer career page
Does your employer support staff with further training or education?
Do you volunteer your Time?
Holy Trinity Church, Gateshead
What type of scientist are you?
Don't necessarily follow the standard route - there are subjects you've never heard of (like geomatics) which have great jobs in industry or academia, but people don't know about - be a little adventurous! If you want to do what I've done, you'll need to enjoy maths, computers and physics. If you're not at the top of the class then don't worry - I wasn't, but I enjoyed solving problems and that led me into research.