Name: Laura Roberts Artal
Job Role: Communications Officer
Organisation: the European Geosciences Union (EGU)
MSci Geology, Liverpool University
Geophysics PhD from the University of Liverpool
1. What inspired you to take up a career in the Geosciences?
I suppose I was interested in rocks, much to the amusement of my parents, since I was a toddler when I could often be found picking up interesting stones and pebbles on beaches in South Africa (where I was born). Later, as an early teenager, I discovered volcanoes and researched what I’d have to train to be in order to study them. I decided there and then I wanted to be a geologist.
2. Can you give more detail about your path to your current job role?
The path to my current role has been winding. While everything I’ve studied and worked at has been linked to geology and the Earth Sciences, it took me quite a while to really figure out what I’m best at and what I enjoy doing the most.
At school I was better at ‘the arts’ and encouraged to study history and English literature at A-Level, but despite knowing I’d find A-Levels in the sciences harder, stuck to my decision to study geology at university and studied pure sciences (chemistry, biology and physics, as well as Spanish).
I got a place on the undergraduate geology research Masters at Liverpool University. My final year had a strong research focus and gave me my first taste of academic life, but I wasn’t 100% sure if I wanted to peruse it as a career. I applied for PhDs and industry positions alike and once I graduated joined environmental consultancy ARCADIS.
I enjoyed the role, but always had the niggle that I wanted to give the academic route a shot, so following three years in industry, I went back to university to pursue a PhD. My research took me to stunning places, including two field seasons in South Africa, and allowed me to work with a vast range of people, some of whom have become close friends.
My three years at ARCADIS triggered a desire to communicate to the wider public and school aged kids the awesome career opportunities studying Earth Sciences offered, so I became a STEM Ambassador. While doing my PhD I felt this was increasingly important. I actively engage with the public, who was ultimately funding my research! I wanted to give something back and communicate the value of my work to those who were helping me peruse it! And so I started getting hooked on science communication and realise that this is where my strengths lied. So I decided to make it my career after I finished my PhD. In 2014 I joined the EGU at the Executive Office in Munich as the organisations Communications Officer.
3. What does your current job role involve?
The EGU is a non-profit international union of scientists with over 12,500 members from all over the world, dedicated to the pursuit of excellence in the Earth, planetary,
and space sciences. The main aim of my job is to communicate all thing geoscience to the wider public and to our members. I do this a number in a lot of different ways.
Every morning I spend a fair amount of time on social media, sharing content about our activities, upcoming events and newsworthy Earth Science news. Additionally, I manage the EGU Blogs. That involves writing about research published in the EGU journals in a way that is accessible to the general public, as well as commissioning scientists and science writers to write about interesting geoscience, educational and policy related subjects.
Because early career researchers are so important to the future of science, the EGU also invests a lot of effort into providing activities and resources, as well as promoting the work of budding scientist. It is also part of my job to coordinate all the activities and initiatives for early career researches.
4. What do you enjoy most about your job?
My current role is mainly office based, but I do get to attend a number of scientific conferences and meetings (around the world) throughout the year too! The best part is that I still keep a close link to all the ground-breaking research taking place at universities, and get to work with brilliant minds, while at the same time doing what I enjoy most, talking (and writing) about science!
5. Why do you think it’s important to encourage more girls into the Geosciences?
Precisely for the reason I mention above! There is no doubt that girls can be excellent geoscientists, the majority of my geology heroes are women! Not only that, some of the best Earth scientists I know are women too. For that reason, I’d like to see more make it to the top of the management chain – girls can bring a lot to the table too!
More than that though, it offers excellent career opportunities. Training to be a geologist gives you a whole host of skills which can be applied to a career as a geoscientist (which in itself is hugely diverse and caters to a lot of different interests and strengths), or as in my case, to peruse new avenues of work too.
6. If you could give a piece of advice to girls currently thinking about a career in the Geosciences, what would it be?
Don’t let anything, including gender, hold you back from doing anything you want to do! It certainly shouldn’t stop you from pursuing a career in the geosciences. It is a rewarding, exciting, challenging and interesting career path, which opens a lot of doors! It can also take you to all four corners of the Earth, so if you’ve got the wanderlust bug (like me), it’s certainly a career which is likely to fuel that!
Find out more about careers in the Geosciences at our ‘Girls into Gesociences’ event on 4th July. Book your place today: firstname.lastname@example.org or Tel (01752) 585975.
You can also follow our event on twitter @girlsingeosci