Profile: Dr Sarah Boulton (Lecturer, Plymouth University)

Sarah Boulton

Name: Dr Sarah Boulton

Job Role: Lecturer in Neotectonics

Organisation: Plymouth University

Education Background: MSci (Hons) Geology UCL; PhD geology Edinburgh.


1. What inspired you to take up a career in the Geosciences?

As a child I collected fossils from the gravel bedload of the river at the bottom of my garden and we went on family holidays to Scotland and elsewhere in the UK that often included dramatic rocks and a trip down mine or two – all these experiences really got me interested in the natural world and geology in particular.  But I also was also interested other aspects of natural science as well as archaeology.  The deciding factors were an excellent geology lecture I attended at the University of Birmingham Open day and the thought that I probably was more likely to get a job as a geologist than an archaeologist!

2. Can you give more detail about your path to your current job role?

After doing science A-levels I went to University College London to do an MSci in Geology.  That is a 4 year undergraduate master’s course.  After that I secured a PhD research position at Edinburgh University where I worked on the tectonic and sedimentary evolution of the Hatay Graben in Southern Turkey from the Eocene to present day.  This involved a fair amount of time out in Turkey, which was very hard work but was also amazing. When I finished my PhD I was very lucky to be employed at Plymouth on a temporary lecture contract, which was made permanent after three years.

 3. What does your current job role involve?

As a lecturer I do lots of different things and no day is ever the same!  Primarily my time is split between teaching (preparing and giving lectures, tutorials and practicals, marking work, and course administration) and research (applying for funding, undertaking research (in the field, lab or in front of a computer), writing articles for publication, going to conferences). I supervise masters and doctoral students, which falls somewhere between the two, and I am the second year tutor so I look after the pastoral care of those students. I also coordinate open and applicant days and sit on a number of school committees.

 4. What do you enjoy most about your job?

That is a difficult question – but I guess it comes down to making a difference, whether that is to someone’s future through teaching or through finding out something new through research.

5. Why do you think it’s important to encourage more girls into the Geosciences?

All work places benefit from diversity, as this brings different ideas and perspectives to problem solving and team work.  Restricting the participation of any group will only create narrow thinking and a tendency to follow the status quo.  The Geosciences embrace a range of exciting and rewarding careers and women should make up more of the workforce than at present because this field contains exciting and rewarding careers that would benefit from greater gender equality.

6. If you could give a piece of advice to girls currently thinking about a career in the Geosciences, what would it be?

Be yourself and never give up!  Also it’s worth spending money on good field clothes because it’s really easy to get cold doing UK field trips!


Sarah will be running a workshop on ‘Faults in Google Earth (GIS)’ at out Girls into Geoscience event on 4th July. Book your place today: girlsintogeoscience@plymouth.ac.uk  or Tel (01752) 585975.

You can also follow our event on twitter @girlsingeosci

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