Name: Dr Jodie Fisher
Job Role: Earth Science Technician
Organisation: Plymouth University
- BSc Geology at Leicester University
- Masters of Research at UCL in Environmental Sciences
- PhD at Plymouth University looking at the environmental impact of climate change much further back in the geological record. Studying the mid-Cretaceous I used isotopes, geochemistry and micropalaeontology to determine the cause and effect of elevated carbon dioxide levels, increased sea levels and a much warmer climate on life in the global oceans.
1. What inspired you to take up a career in the Geosciences?
I always loved science and was initially attracted by archaeology, the study of past lives and the excitement of discovering new things and uncovering mysteries using science. I quickly realised it was much further back in time that interested me the most when I started my geology degree at Leicester. I had never done geology before but found it incorporated all the biology, chemistry, physics and maths I had loved at school and applied them in a much more exciting way!
2. Can you give more detail about your path to your current job role?
Following my PhD I was funded by Leverhulme as post-doctoral research fellow. Applying the skills I had developed during my PhD, this time I was working as a pseudo-volcanologist: helping a volcanology team date volcanic events in the marine record. Instead of using foraminifera to date and assess climate change in the Cretaceous I instead used the same techniques to date marine cores, correlate them and in doing so tie down the volcanic events that punctuate the normal marine sedimentation. Using changes in the species of microfossils that we see in the cores, and geochemisty of these fossils, we were able to date the volcanic activity on Montserrat back over 150,000 years. Following my Post Doc I had a career break to start a family, I took an outreach role organising, leading and running events for the Faculty of Science and gained a fantastic amount of experience in outreach and science communication. Something I use on a daily basis today. I took the opportunity to move back into a more geological role when an Earth Science Technician post became available. I was able to do this part time as 1 child became 3 and this is where I find myself today.
3. What does your current job role involve?
A little bit of everything! From setting up practical’s for the undergraduates, to supporting and supervising research project students. I get to run a lab, get out in the field and work with a fantastic team. Primarily supporting teaching, I spend a lot of time with students who are learning research techniques in our palaeo labs. From processing sediments, to analysis, and imaging rocks and fossils, I train them in these techniques and am always on hand to help with any problems and of course check the health and safety forms have been filled in! I also take an active role in the Earth Science outreach programme. Always looking for an excuse to talk about anything geological I run workshops for school students on everything from lava flow modelling, to microfossils and even forensic geology! I also get the students involved too and with British Science Week, Lyme Regis Fossil Festival and of course our Girls into Geoscience event, its great to see our students getting some experience in science communication too. And that’s not all! Curating new material for our teaching collections, maintaining teaching and research equipment, and a bit of time to keep my hand in with the microfossils, this really is a varied and interesting role.
4. What do you enjoy most about your job?
Definitely the variety. I love hands on science and this is what I get to do every day. Spending time with staff, students and school children, I hope that I have inspired, even just a little bit, someone to consider a career in science, or even geoscience. I miss the research and fieldwork that dominated much of my early career (who wouldn’t want to study volcanoes in the Caribbean), but I hope that as the children get older I will get the opportunity to get more involved in teaching and research again.
5. Why do you think it’s important to encourage more girls into the Geosciences?
Like anything balance is good and geosciences, like many science degrees, offers a huge amount of career opportunities for both men and women. I do a lot of outreach and it is amazing how early on girls and boys form ideas on what jobs are for the boys and which are for the girls and we need to break down these gender barriers. For me, if someone told me something wasn’t for me, I would strive to prove them wrong, but this often isn’t the case. There is no reason why more women shouldn’t get involved in the exciting career opportunities that exist in the Earth Sciences, and that’s where we come in!
6. If you could give a piece of advice to girls currently thinking about a career in the Geosciences, what would it be?
Go for it! If you have a passion for a subject or field of study don’t let anyone put you off. Where there is passion there is achievement, and through that of course anything is possible. Ha ha, now I sound like a life coach! But seriously, I am a great believer in doing things you enjoy, and if you can stop to big up your fellow woman along the way, even better.
Jodie will be running a workshop on ‘Microfossils and climate’ with Deborah Wall-Palmer at our Girls into Geoscience event on July 4th. Book your place today: firstname.lastname@example.org or Tel (01752) 585975.
You can also follow our event on twitter @girlsingeosci