Name: Kathryn Cunningham
Job Role: Environmental Geophysicist
Organisation: TigerGeo Ltd
Education Background: BSc (Hons) Applied Geology, Plymouth University
1. What inspired you to take up a career in the Geosciences?
My interest in Earth Sciences emerged while working as Nature Guide in South Africa in the Kruger National Park. From there I decided to develop a career in the Earth and Environment by applying to University. I began my University career with the BSc Extended Science single year course which allows progression to a science degree at Plymouth University. This course included a module in geosciences and this was the spark that led me to undertaking a degree in Applied Geology.
2. Can you give more detail about your path to your current job role?
My current job role arose from a search for companies with geological interests within a commutable area from where I’m based. I came across TigerGeo Ltd (then known as Archaeophysica) and wrote a letter detailing my experience with the hope of them offering work experience. A permanent role came from a month of work experience with them. It’s important to mention that this first month was probably the steepest learning curve of my life. I hadn’t previously considered working within geophysics, and all of the experience I had was working with scales in the hundreds of metres, whereas this role usually involved only the top four metres of the subsurface! It has inspired however to continue with a career in geophysics.
3. What does your current job role involve?
My current job role primarily involves conducting geophysical surveys around the country with various methods. Our usual routine involves collecting data, generation maps and producing reports for clients, usually with the view to locating areas containing archaeology. A few times a year we also get involved with research projects that comprise a range of disciplines (including archaeology and geology).
4. What do you enjoy most about your job?
The two aspects I enjoy most about my job are the variability from week to week, and the opportunities for using new and innovative methods with research projects, for example using data from laser-scanning for topographic correction of resistivity data.
5. Why do you think it’s important to encourage more girls into Geoscience?
My experiences while studying for this course included some people outside of the geological community casting doubts as to the usefulness of a degree in geosciences. There was a definite attitude that there was very little with regards to job prospects. I think it’s important to encourage more girls into geoscience if only to highlight the range of opportunities available to them.
6. If you could give a piece of advice to girls currently thinking about a career in the Geosciences, what would it be?
Earth Sciences incorporates such a range of subjects and specialisms that may not have previously been of interest to you, or you may not have come across before, therefore my one piece of advice would be to keep an open mind. Some people can enter a degree or career in Earth Sciences with a clear objective of what they want to achieve, and while that’s commendable I also think it’s important to remain open to different opportunities.
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