Profile: Rebecca Astbury (PhD Student, University of Perugia, Italy)

rebecca-astbury1Name: Rebecca Astbury

Job Role: PhD Student in Volcanology

Organisation: Petro-Volcanology Research Group (PVRG), University of Perugia, Italy

Education Background:

  • Master Geology and Physical Geography (2010-2015), University of Edinburgh

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

I’ve always had a keen interest in natural hazards, volcanoes specifically. In school, we learnt about the amount of people in recorded history who have lost their lives due to volcanic eruptions and their associated hazards, mainly due to the fact that it’s almost impossible to predict when an eruption will happen. I felt that there must be something I could do to change that, and my determination has grown since then.

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

I really enjoyed the research side of my Geoscience Undergraduate degree, but I also couldn’t imagine a career that didn’t involve the opportunity to go out into the field and see the geology first hand, so a PhD was the best of both worlds.

3. What does your current job role involve?

At the moment, my PhD involves using crystals found in volcanic eruption products such as lava and pumices to try to understand the processes that occur in a volcanic system. The crystals record the history of the system in their chemical composition, and we can use this geochemistry to interpret how eruptions are triggered, and the time over which this happens. This information can help volcanologists to forecast future volcanic eruptions.

Also, as the only “mother-tongue” English speaker in my department, I’m in charge of our Twitter feed, which keeps our followers up to date on all the latest developments within our research group.

4. What do you enjoy most about your job?

I really enjoy the opportunity to learn new things every day, and I also have the flexibility to come up with my own ideas for new projects and collaborate with lots of other researchers.  I also get to travel to lots new places for fieldwork, conferences and analysis.


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

There does seem to be a much higher percentage of male researchers in Geosciences, however, some of the most inspiring and engaging researchers I’ve meet in my field are females, and we need to keep that up! There will always be more work to do in Volcanology and Geosciences as a whole, so let’s make the field as big and diverse as possible.

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 be afraid to pursue new ideas and know that your opinions matter. You may approach a problem in a completely different way to other people, but that doesn’t make you wrong, in fact, your way could be the solution that no one has considered before!

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