Profile: Caitlin Ahrens (PhD Student, University of Arkansas)

Caitlin Ahren
Name:
 Caitlin Ahrens

Job Role: PhD. Graduate Student, Space & Planetary Science

Organisation: University of Arkansas, Arkansas, U.S

Education Background:

B.S. Physics (concentration Astrophysics),

B.S. Geology: West Virginia University, West Virginia. Graduated in 2015.


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

When I was younger, I would constantly take rocks home with me and study them. I then learned about different branches of geology and thought seismology was fascinating due to my father’s hobby of learning science. Through this, I participated in science fairs and learned the importance of collaboration. At age 18, I had been given the title Assignee of a seismology-related patent. From then on I have branched out to other interesting branches of geosciences, including the mineralogy on other planets and how there are different ices in space.

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

I had interned at the USGS Astrogeology Team in Flagstaff, Arizona, U.S. to learn about the mineralogy of Martian dunes and their formations. This internship provided me insights to even more branches in the planetary geoscience field. Knowing the thermal signatures of specific minerals has brought me to my current position of studying Pluto.

3. What does your current job role involve?

My current job involves the spectroscopic signatures of ices and gases that we would see on the surface of Pluto and apply that to images taken from the New Horizons. I manage the Pluto Simulation Chamber at the W.M. Keck Laboratory for Space Simulations at the University of Arkansas. I work at temperatures at nearly -369 degrees Fahrenheit!

4. What do you enjoy most about your job?

Every week at my job is like it’s own adventure. You go in and explore the possibilities of the science. I constantly ask questions and make geology drawings of the physics behind the rocks and ice.

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

I could answer this question as a pun and say that “Girls Rock!” But in seriousness, I urge every girl who wants to explore the Geosciences to take that adventure. If you have a question or find something that interests you, go forward with it. Talk to local professors and graduate students, join Twitter or other social media to get caught up in recent findings. The important thing, it’s not science in the end- it’s YOUR SCIENCE.

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

There will be times when something that was fascinating becomes dull or already solved. That’s okay. There are so many branches of the Geosciences out there. All it takes is a little innovation. If you have something that interests you, see how many ways you can apply that to other branches- or even other sciences!


Learn more about careers in the Geosciences at our ‘Girls into Geosciences’ 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

Profile: Dr Meriel FitzPatrick (Lecturer, Plymouth University)

xlarge_meriel_f.jpg
Name:
Dr Meriel FitzPatrick

Job Role: Lecturer in Earth Sciences

Organisation: Plymouth University

Education Background: 

PhD, Palynology, University of Plymouth

MSc, Palynology, University of Sheffield

BA Mod (Hons) Trinity College, Dublin


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

I didn’t really know what I wanted to do when I went to university at the age of 17.  My family encouraged me to study something I enjoyed, so I chose Natural Sciences because it provided a broad introduction to all the sciences, zoology being my main interest.  However, having never studied geology before, I found it fascinating and enjoyable.   I had always spent time outdoors, so I enjoyed the fieldwork immensely.  I found I preferred geology to zoology which required hours spent sketching pickled organisms or dissecting recently dead ones. The realisation that exploring the geology of an area, trying to figure things out and work out a geological history based on what you could observe in the field was a bit like solving a puzzle, made me want to study it further.

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

After my degree I chose to continue studying/research and completed an MSc and then a PhD in palynology which had direct career openings in the oil industry.  I worked in industry for a while as I was writing my PhD but left my job in order to finish it.  Then I worked part-time on an hourly paid basis while my children were very young but now I have progressed to a permanent part-time contract.

3. What does your current job role involve?

My current role mainly involves teaching undergraduate students at all levels through lectures, tutorials and practicals, so much of my time is spent developing teaching materials.  Teaching students in the field is also an important part of my role, including residential fieldtrips at least twice a year. At Plymouth our pastoral care through the tutorials is an important part of supporting students and helping them adapt to academic life at university; I am responsible for co-ordinating these tutorials for Stage 1 students. The foundation stage of our degree programmes includes an introductory Geoscience module which I am module leader for.  I am involved in research through supervising MGeol and PhD students and continue my own research when I have the time.

4. What do you enjoy most about your job?

I enjoy the huge variety my job provides and the scope for meeting people and travelling to interesting places. I enjoy working with people, both staff and students.  Seeing the students progress and graduate at the end of their degree is immensely rewarding.

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

The Geosciences are often perceived to be very male dominated but this does not have to be the case! It’s important to encourage more girls into the subject to help correct this gender imbalance.  There are many different aspects to the Geosciences which provide a wide variety of career choices, giving both genders just as much possibility of being successful.

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

If you enjoy science subjects, have an inquisitive, enquiring mind, are interested in the world around you and enjoy some outdoor activity, I would say “Go for it – the choice is yours”!  Geosciences can provide a very stimulating and rewarding career, in whatever area you choose – research, academia or industry.


Meriel will be running a workshop on ‘Reconstructing Geological Time’ at our ‘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

Profile: Emma Goode (Geologist, Tarmac Trading Ltd.)

Emma Goode
Name:
 Emma Goode

Job Role: Geologist – Land and Natural Resources Function 

Organisation: Tarmac Trading Limited a CRH company.

Education Background: BSc Earth System Science at Keele University.


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

A levels options at my school only included Geography, unlike some other facilities that also offered Geology, therefore I ended up choosing as broad a degree in Earth Science as I could find as I wasn’t sure I would enjoy the geology part as much as the Geography or the Chemistry aspects.

It ended up that I enjoyed the geological part of the degree the most as it was diverse and fascinating. I completed my Earth Science degree doing my dissertation on the volcanoes in Iceland.

 2. What does your current job role involve?

I work as a geologist based in the ‘South Tarmac region’ meaning that as part of a regional team we cover the entire area of England approximately south of Leicester.

For me personally that means I am responsible for the geological work at 17 active quarry units, several dormant and ongoing Greenfield projects.

I do the Site investigation management, Geological Modelling and Reserve Calculations in a 3D Computer package called LSS, and ensure all my units comply with the Geotechnical Safety requirements set out by the HSE Quarry Regs.

3. What do you enjoy most about your job?

It’s quite varied; I can be on site one day discussing a quarry extension with the site manager or on site with a drilling rig doing geological logging. Or the week can mainly be office based with the aim being report writing and geological modelling. It’s this variability that keeps this role interesting and challenging.

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

Until recently I was the only female Geologist in our department of 15, times are changing and this is no longer the case but it has always been a male dominated industry.

It may be in part the perception that the quarrying industry is in some way ‘dirty’ and ‘rough’ but this is an old fashioned image. It’s a thriving, pioneering industry always looking for improvements and new technological advancements.

There are numerous opportunities to make your mark, have your opinions heard and basically drive change be it though industry like Tarmac or consultancy etc.

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

If you are at all unsure about which particular sphere of Earth Science you are most interested in then pick a broad Geoscience degree with plenty of module ‘options’, you can always potentially specialise afterwards with a Masters or similar (just ensure that the degree is accredited with The Geological Society if possible).

Keep your eyes out for internships and mentoring schemes that may be offered with industry professionals and take note of the Graduate intake dates for the companies you are most interested in as they do slightly vary.

It’s also worth becoming a fellow of the Geological Society early on if you can find a sponsor as jobs are advertised and you can attend events to meet other Geoscientists.

Finally and ultimately, don’t give up if you don’t get into the perfect role straight away, sometimes industries and companies can be slow to respond and perseverance and flexibility can really help you get the foot in the door!


Find out more about careers in the Geosciences at our 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

Profile: Claire Jennings (Managing Director, AquaGeo)

Claire Jennings CropName: Claire Jennings

Job Role: Managing Director/Business Owner 

Organisation: AquaGeo  (Aqua GeoProjects Ltd)

History – Co-Founder and Owner of the WGP Group.


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

I was born and raised in the industry, spending some of my school holidays as a young girl aboard a survey vessel whilst my Father was working on a seismic survey in Poole Harbour. I stepped into the geophysical industry following in my Fathers footsteps, he worked in a number of large oil and gas related organisations based in the UK before taking a decision to start his own business.  I was soon to follow suit when there was a requirement for my services as a Financial and Project Manager in 1994 when the limited company was established.

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

AquaGeo is a British geophysical acquisition and project management company with combined experience spanning over 35 years in the oil and gas sector. We offer a range of services specialising in shallow water acquisition and marine transition zone surveys and we have a vessel dedicated to projects working with 1.5 metre water depths.  Following on from a recent refit, this vessel is currently based in the Caribbean seeking new opportunities.  To complement seismic exploration we have recently entered the oceanographic research sector, and we now have an additional two vessels in our fleet that we are promoting for potential surveys during 2016. Our skill-sets also extend into project management of oil company assets to maximise extraction of existing oilfield reservoirs. We are concentrating our efforts in offering this service to oil companies as we have amassed experience in Permanent Reservoir Monitoring (PRM) gained over a decade.

 3. What does your current job role involve?

My role as Managing Director is to lead my team “My desire is to build a prosperous business focusing on both the success of our clients and the health and happiness of our employees.  “Our driving ethos is to help our clients derive maximum benefit from every project that they undertake;” Claire says, “and in so doing, build upon our reputation for reliability, flexibility and professionalism.” “Being an all-female management team does make us a little different within the industry, but that does not mean that we should be under-estimated. We compete strongly and robustly for every project and we always ensure that we deliver on the projects that we undertake.”

4. What do you enjoy most about your job?

The best aspect of this career choice is the respect I have gained through my client’s, colleagues and employees from serving over 20 years in the industry.  I also have a business ethos of encouraging not stifling initiative in the workplace.  I have seen so many companies fail through my career in the industry where the only way is the highway if you don’t follow management or board procedures.   That is not to say procedures aren’t to be adhered to, I just like to see a happy workforce – with freedom of ideas and speech, and the ability to contribute to all aspects of the company. The good, the bad and the ugly!

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

This industry for a woman is not for the fainthearted, you have to possess an ability to be able to take criticism on the chin!  The female senior team in AquaGeo have vast experience, ranging from providing logistic support to surveys in countries like Azerbaijan and South America – through to qualifications such as marine mammal observers and ISO lead-auditors.

As women it is sometime just one big juggling act!  You have to put that to one side, and I think with the right approach men in business see you as an equal once you can demonstrate both confidence and prove that you are knowledgeable and skilled in your area of expertise

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

I am giving my heart and soul to the “Girls in Geoscience” event at Plymouth University to hopefully entice some of these young students into making career choices in the marine sector.  After all, they are the future of the industry and women have a wide spectrum of strengths that can only contribute to an industry that I can proudly say isn’t just for boys!


Claire will be presenting a talk on “Geophysics and seismic acquisition” at our ‘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