UCL Earth Sciences


Scientist Spotlight: Rosemary Willatt

1 October 2021

Hello, I’m Rosemary Willatt. I’m a Research Fellow at the Centre of Polar Observation Modelling.

Rosemary Willatt
I am interested in remote sensing of sea ice. Sea ice forms when sea water freezes and plays an important role in Earth's climate in and beyond the polar regions. To better understand how to interpret the satellite data used to estimate sea ice thickness, I analyse data from ground-based and airborne radars and lasers alongside coincident data on the snow, ice and meteorological conditions. I have had some incredible experiences conducting polar fieldwork. Working for Prof. Julienne Stroeve, I am currently analysing altimetry-type data gathered using the Ku- and Ka-band radar instrument 'KuKa' during the MOSAiC Arctic expedition. I was awarded the inaugural Konrad Steffen award for a presentation on this work.

Ever since I was young I have been fascinated by Earth's environment, particularly the sky and the ways that waves of light, or electromagnetic radiation, interact with everything else in our universe - so I studied MSci Astronomy. I loved my degree, which also included some environmental physics, and was awarded the Astronomy prize for best performance every year and made the Dean's list. I then had a great opportunity to work for the European Space Agency in Spain as a Young Graduate Trainee, working on astronomical data from the XMM Newton X-ray space telescope. I realised that I wanted to continue to work with satellite data, using electromagnetic radiation, but for Earth Observation. I did a PhD in UCL Department of Earth Sciences in the Centre for Polar Observation and Modelling, looking at how radiation interacts with snow-covered sea ice. I then had a career break from science research (working in the private and education sectors on environmental sustainability), and a family, and returned to science in late 2019. I am passionate about diversity in science and an active member of the department's groups WiES and Network for Ethnic Diversity. I have written an article for Women in Science day about my own experiences as a mum and scientist.