UCL News


Spotlight on Liz Jones

1 August 2012

This week the spotlight is on Liz Jones, Teaching Fellow in Geomatics, and Geomatic Systems Manager, UCL Civil, Environmental and Geomatic Engineering What is your role and what does it involve? Lots of acronyms! I am a Teaching Fellow in Geomatics, and Geomatic Systems Manager.

Liz Jones Essentially, I teach people how to measure things accurately and how to transform, analyse and visualise spatial data for use within a range of applications including deformation monitoring, setting out for construction, crime scene recording, hydrographic surveying and archaeology.

On our undergraduate programmes in Civil and Environmental Engineering, I deliver lectures and practicals on surveying and Geographic Information Science (GIS), and I run an annual residential field trip to Lampeter for two weeks in June.

For our MSc programmes, I teach students how to survey using the latest equipment: total stations, robotic total stations, automatic levels, handheld GPS/GIS devices, static GPS, RTK GPS, dSLR cameras and laser scanners; and how to model and analyse data using a range of software.

I also organise and participate in a residential MSc GNSS and surveying field trip on the Isle of Wight. Recently, I have taken on more consultancy roles, and designed and delivered a surveying and GIS course for Civil Engineering undergraduates at the new Nazarbayev University, Kazakhstan; an absolutely fantastic, if somewhat nippy, experience.

Aside from my teaching responsibilities, I manage the provision of Geomatic resources in the department and provide practical assistance on the department's research projects. We were fortunate last year to upgrade most of our survey kit, so staff and students alike now have the opportunity to work with cutting-edge technology.

I am also a personal tutor, the department's Adviser to Women Students, Editor for the UCL Women in Engineering website and I maintain the UCL Geomatics blog.

My background and research interests are in landscape archaeology, geovisualisation and the spatial analysis of historic environments, particularly in Egypt.

In addition to my activities in London, I am fortunate to work on the Gurob Harem Palace project and the Saqqara Geophysical Survey Project - projects that embrace geomatic methods and good practice.

I am fascinated by how people transform their environment and society, and I'm in awe of major engineering projects, such as Crossrail. Such endeavours demonstrate that good engineers not only need technical competence but lively imaginations and an understanding of the social sciences too.

How long have you been at UCL and what was your previous role?

I have been at UCL in my current role for nearly 4.5 years now. Prior to this, I worked as a surveyor in the 3D team of a leading UK survey firm, working mainly on heritage and forensic projects.

My journey into engineering has been a somewhat unusual one and I've only recently (with help from Jason Davies and the CALT team) quelled my angst about being a humanities person in a department full of engineers, physicists and mathematicians.

I first joined UCL in 2000 as an Egyptian Archaeology undergraduate, and then worked as a library assistant for the Egypt Exploration Society before undertaking an MA in Egyptology at Liverpool University.

I then worked on archaeological projects in Egypt and Greece, building up my surveying and GIS knowledge, before returning to UCL to complete an MSc in GIS in the department in which I now work.

I was motivated to learn how to survey with the promise from my undergraduate supervisor, Dr David Jeffreys, that he would take me to Egypt on the Survey of Memphis if I did so.

This led me to the opportunity to join the Saqqara geophysical project, under the direction of retired surveyor Ian Mathieson, and it was Ian, with his admiration for the work of Professor Paul Cross and Dr Jon Iliffe, who suggested that I return to the Geomatic Engineering department at UCL.

What working achievement or initiative are you most proud of?

The UCL Women in engineering group has the potential to make the greatest impact. Following the website launch at the end of last year, I would like us to set up a mentoring scheme that supports women engineers at various stages of their education and pairs them up either with women in academia or those in industry with similar interests or who have faced similar challenges in their careers.

I would also like more visible female role models and more information about the work-life balance of women working in engineering. This has been one of the benefits of social media for me - greater insight into how my colleagues handle their professional and personal lives.

What is your life like outside UCL?

Marking and sleeping feature quite heavily; having a stimulating and varied job that you love is all very well but it can take it out of you. I like to explore places, particularly in east London where I live, and I enjoy blogging silly anecdotes from my Worcestershire childhood.

To switch off completely, I like to play videogames - preferably ones with moustachioed plumbers, giant barrel-throwing apes or the ravenous undead. I have been known to play the piano and oboe, but my neighbours are not so keen. I can also be found on my roof, talking to various fruit bushes, veggie pots and aromatic climbers. You can take the girl out of Evesham…