Arran 2021: reporting on the successes of running a field trip in Covid-times

Nicholas Barber, 4th Year PhD Student, tells us about his experience as a demonstrator for this summer’s first year field trip to Arran – the first since the pandemic started.   

Covid-19’s impact has touched each and every one of our lives. While the impacts of the pandemic have been devastating, in a much smaller way Covid-19 has completely reshaped what it means to study Earth Sciences at Cambridge. Traditionally, our students would spend a week over the Easter holiday tramping through the bogs and heather on the Isle of Arran – this would be their first taste of fieldwork and would be “the best revision any Cambridge undergraduate could ask for.”

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Emma Perry zooms in on the hidden depths of nuclear waste breakdown

Nuclear energy is a low-cost and reliable source of energy with a very low carbon footprint, and for these reasons is likely to be a key player in the green energy transition.  But, in order to include nuclear energy in our investment plans, we need to ensure the small amount of nuclear fuel waste generated can be stored safely. I am halfway through my PhD project, which is looking at how nuclear waste, stored in geological disposal facilities hundreds of metres below the surface, dissolves when groundwater seeps in through multiple barriers of protection.

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Cambridge seismology graduate named one of 2021 Top 50 Women in Engineering

Image of mountainous backdrop, with winding road extending into the distance

Grace Campbell is an earthquake geologist and remote sensing specialist in Arup‘s Natural Hazard and Risk Management Team.

After gaining a Master’s degree in Earth Sciences at UCL, Grace moved to Cambridge to study – firstly for an MPhil in Environmental Science and Remote Sensing at the Department of Geography, then moving to Earth Sciences to undertake a PhD on earthquake hazards in central Asia. 

Grace has now worked at Arup for 5 years, and was recently recognised as one of 2021’s Top 50 Women in Engineering. We caught up with Grace in the following blog post and heard more about her work on natural hazard and risk management.

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Carrie Soderman on interning with the Environmental Audit Committee

Carrie in the lab, wearing protective gear and stood in front of a mass spectrometer

From February to April this year, in the midst of lockdown and halfway through the third year of my PhD, I took 3 months away from geochemistry to work with the Environmental Audit Committee, a House of Commons Select Committee. This opportunity was part of an amazing policy internship scheme run by UKRI, who oversee the funding of my PhD. Although not sure that I wanted to pursue a policy career, applying to the scheme seemed like a great opportunity to learn more about the career path and develop transferable skills.

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Life after graduating, and life before the Cambrian Explosion

Before the unprecedented months of virtual everythings – hand sanitiser-soaked fingers and meetings in pyjama bottoms – I was happily enjoying my final year as an undergraduate. Whilst making the most of my time left in beautiful Cambridge and running the greatest student geological society there is (the unofficial title I awarded the Sedgwick Club), I found myself working on an interesting Master’s project with Alex Liu. The exciting results that came out of this project gave me something to focus on whilst stuck at home in the months after graduation. I’ll tell you more about my project, and my journey to getting my results published, in this blog post.  

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Masters student gets detailed snapshot of earthquake tremors in Reykjanes Peninsula, Iceland

Just hours after Dan Roberts, Masters student at Cambridge Earth Sciences, handed in his dissertation on the seismicity of Reykjanes Peninsula, Iceland, the volcano in his study area erupted… Here Dan reflects on how his work, which employs Cambridge-developed earthquake mapping software, is helping inform our understanding of seismic and volcanic hazards in Iceland.

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