Excited to see which of us you voted for! Thanks for a fantastic two weeks!
About Me: Super enthusiastic singing volcanoloist and engineer with super fluffy dog and a love of all things wild.
My Work: What makes volcanoes tick? How do we makes soils healthier? How do we get oil and gas out the ground, and put CO2 into it? What makes a good material? I use x-ray imaging to find out!
I finished school and wasn’t sure what i wanted to do next… I went to University to study lots of subjects (Natural Sciences allows you to do more than one subject for part, or all of your degree) and when I finished I still wasn’t sure exactly what I wanted to do…. that’s not something many people will say. I really enjoyed my science degree and wanted to move into research, but I was a glutton for punishment and studied two subjects at honours level (Earth Science and Physics), and I wasn’t sure which area of research I wanted to specialise in.
So… I went to Hawaii to work on the Kiluaea volcano, and I got hooked. There is something unbelievably amazing about watching the planet grow in front of your eyes; and to walk across a bit of the rock that you saw solidify from a red hot flowing river several hours before. I think everyone will admit that volcanoes are spectacular, powerful, sometimes dangerous but always exciting and unpredictable places to be.
Looking at the magma beneath volcanoe is very high detail made me realise how important the evoltion of the structure of the rock was in controlling how thevolcanoe behaved (this is mostly of what I work on now). This got me into thinking about other areas where the material structure controls the behaviour – and since then i have worked across the areas of Materials Science, Geology, and Engineering – working on projects on iprove the way we mine copper out of rocks, to how we make steel girders, how the structure of chocolate changes the way it tastes, and the way arthritis effects knees – and this is just a selection.
The thing all these projects had in common is that we were looking at the processes in 3D. X-ray tomography is a little like having a CAT scan at the hospital, you get a 3D image of the sample without having to cut it up. The reason I took the job was that magma is a liquid, and like any other liquid, it behaves according to a set of physical rules – we just don’t know what they are yet because we have never been able to watch what happens inside the magma as it’s doing its thing (melting, flowing, erupting, solidifying).
As of October 2019 I started work as a Lecturer in Civil & Environmental Engineering at the University of Strathclyde. I still work in 3D and 4D imaging, and I still work on magma, but now I am also looking at soils, rocks, and building materials – all to try and build a lower carbon, more resilient and energy efficient future.
Looking back I can see that my being unsure which subject to specialise in has, in fact led me down a path where I apply both every day!