UCL Mathematical & Physical Sciences


Andrew Thomson, Earth Sciences

Andrew is a NERC Independent Research Fellow and proleptic Lecturer. He is Chair of the Mineral Physics group within the Mineralogical Society and co-chairs Earth Science's Athena Swan/EDI committee.

Andrew Thomson

Andrew grew up in Edinburgh, and moved south of the border to study Natural Sciences at Selwyn College Cambridge, convinced he would become a Chemist. However, after discovering the joy of fieldwork on rainy trips to Arran and Cornwall, his focus shifted to the Geological Sciences. Following a brief stint working for BP, he moved to Bristol to complete his PhD which studied how carbon that is recycled into the mantle ends up forming diamonds at depths of 300-800 km below the surface of our planet. Since 2014 he has worked at UCL, as a PDRA before becoming a NERC Fellow and proleptic Lecturer. His favourite aspect of work continues to be outdoor fieldwork which is now limited to teaching during undergraduate field courses.

His research in the lab continues to focus on understanding aspects of the Earth’s deep interior. Now, alongside studying the behaviour of carbon at high pressure, he spends large portions of his time at synchrotron facilities around the world trying to measure physical properties of materials that make up the interior of Earth and other planets. His current focus is on understanding the velocity that seismic waves travel through minerals at pressure and temperature conditions of the Earth’s transition zone, which is situated 410-660 km below Earth’s surface and has a temperature between 1600 and 2000 K.

Beyond science Andrew spends most of his time enjoying classical music, both as a performer or a member of the audience. Since primary school he always loved making a racket and regularly did so in various guises as a member of countless choirs and orchestras. After singing in the National Youth Choir of Scotland he was a choral scholar throughout his time at Selwyn College. His singing is now far less regular, and whilst he does occasionally sing on Sunday mornings unfortunately for his work colleagues his singing is now mostly lab-based. He is part of Khoros, a London-based choir, who are recording a CD of music dedicated to the Virgin Mary next month. If you would like to support this project, or find out more about Khoros, see: https://www.crowdfunder.co.uk/help-khoros-choir-make-its-debut-recording .