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Thinking of studying earth sciences?
The primary reason for doing a PhD is to go into academia, although its highly prestigious status can also be extremely beneficial for careers in industry and the private sector. It requires perhaps 60-80 hours per week and takes at least 3 years to complete, so you need to find a suitable topic, which will engage your enthusiasm and interest for the long-haul.
PhD students are supervised by a main supervisor who steers the project,
PhD training tailored to the project, and logistics; and by at least one
secondary supervisor who provides an important scientific viewpoint. Other supervisors may be provided through
collaborating bodies, including academic institutions and industrial
partners. All PhD students at UCL also
maintain an active on-line report, completed at regular (~quarterly) intervals
by the student and signed off by their supervisors, which serves as an
effective method to ensure regular progression during their research training
for a PhD.
Departmental PhD students contribute and develop their communication and leadership skills as demonstrators, required to support undergraduate courses in the ES, especially including laboratory and field classes. They acquire teaching skills through specially arranged training courses, and they are encouraged to benefit from wider college activities available to them at UCL
PhD Career pathways
A few of our successful doctorates include:
2009-now: PostDoctoral Research Associate, GEMOC , Macquarie University, Australia: researching into diamond geochemistry for fundamental research in academia (PhD: "Quantifying Stress & Strain in Diamond":2009)
He says "My research interests are focused upon the study of diamonds and their inclusions. My PhD at UCL was based around the use of birefringence (which is a stress-related optical property in diamond) to investigate the history of diamonds. This work covered the full range of using quantitative birefringence analysis, starting with experimentally re-evaluating the photoelastic constants of diamond, using the MetriPol birefringence analysis system. After that, my work focused on using the strain birefringence halos commonly observed around inclusions to measure the remnant pressure the inclusions are under, and from that calculate possible source conditions in the mantle. As plastic deformation is another common cause of birefringence in diamond, and it is inherently linked to the development of brown colour, I undertook a HPHT experimental investigation into the deformation of diamond under mantle conditions." His first degree MSci Geoscience, Royal Holloway, University of London (2004).
Simon first joined UCL in 1999-2000 when he graduated with an MSc in Hydrogeology, going on to work in hydrogeological consultancy before returning to UCL as a PhD student in 2005. Following on from his NERC-supported research studentship at UCL (2005-8) Simon returned to professional work, rejoining his former employer Entec as a Senior Consultant. He is now Principal Consultant Hydrogeologist at AMEC plc, based in London.
Simon Quinn successfully defended his PhD thesis, entitled "Evaluation of a radiochemical method to estimate the rate of solute diffusion within a dual porosity Chalk aquifer", in May 2012, with External Examiners Professor Simon Bottrell (Leeds) and Professor Kevin Hiscock (East Anglia) both praising the work.
Simon's project was part of the LOCAR (Lowland Catchment Research) initiative funded by the Natural Environment Research Council to improve the scientific basis for managing the groundwater-fed river basins that provide water supplies to the majority of the population in England and Wales. Focussing on the Chalk aquifer his aim was to find out the factors controlling amounts of radon gas dissolved in groundwater, and to discover how the distribution of radon was controlled by diffusion through the porous parts of the Chalk rock. There had been previous scientific speculation that measurements on groundwater radon, which occurs naturally, could be used to predict the behaviour of man-made contaminants such as fertilizer and pesticide residues as they are washed by rainfall into Chalk aquifers.
Simon's research showed that diffusion was not the only factor controlling the variability of radon levels in Chalk groundwater - its radioactive parent elements, uranium and radium, turned out to have highly uneven distributions. Moreover, a direct comparison of radon-based predictions for contaminant behaviour with the results of tests using artificial tracers showed large discrepancies. This suggests that radon is affected by a hitherto unaccounted process, possibly strong sorption onto the grains of the Chalk itself which would slow down its migration rate through the pores of the rock when compared with the fluorescent dyes used as tracers. This result opens new areas for inquiry into the behaviour of radon in porous media, but effectively disposes of the hope that cheap, simple radiochemical measurements of radon and uranium in Chalk could be used to predict contaminant transport.