Senior Geophysicist with Silixa Ltd.
1. How would you describe your work in ten words?
Helping scientists deploy fibre-optic sensing networks and developing data analysis.
2. What does a typical day in your working life look like?
In the office I meet with clients to discuss their fibre-optic Distributed Acoustic Sensing (DAS) and Distributed Temperature Sensing (DTS) projects and help them choose the right equipment for their monitoring needs. The areas we cover include monitoring for carbon capture and storage (CCS), geothermal, dam, mining and seismology projects. I also carry out field work to collect data for customers and do some seismic data analysis. The range of applications for DAS in geophysics is rapidly developing and so I often attend conferences and workshops to present project results.
3. How did you become interested in geophysics?
I have always been interested in natural physical phenomena such as weather, earthquakes and volcanic eruptions. After an undergraduate degree in physics I chose an MSc in geophysics which included earthquake seismology.
4. How did you get to where you are now?
For my MSc dissertation I spent time at the USGS in Menlo Park studying earthquake sequences in Long Valley caldera. I wanted to work in Japan and, from contacts made at the USGS, I was lucky to be offered a job at the Geological Survey of Japan. After 15 months in research I realised a PhD would help my future career and I complete a DPhil in earthquake seismology. Following a stint in academic publishing and then engineering consultancy, I moved back to research and a postdoc position. Last year I completed more than 8 years as a postdoc in microseismicity research, working on CCS and hydraulic fracturing monitoring. In my last project I worked with microseismic DAS data. I found the potential applications of the technology exciting and a year ago I left academia to work for Silixa Ltd, a DAS and DTS technology developer and supplier.
5. What is your most memorable experience in your career as a geophysicist?
Overall, 15 months living and working in Japan. My most memorable fieldwork was in Oman, it involved long days, desert driving (and getting stuck), navigation skills, staying in an oil camp and hard digging in carbonate rocks – but well worth it for the experience in a beautiful country.
6. What do you think are the big challenges in geophysics in the next decade?
I think the biggest challenge for geophysics is transferring the skills, expertise and jobs from the oil industry to transition to a low carbon economy and energy industry.
7. What are your future plans/aspirations?
I hope that I can help geophysicists make the most of fibre-optic monitoring. I am inspired by the ideas and new applications people come up with.
8. What advice would you give to anyone considering geophysics as a career (especially those from currently under-represented groups, e.g. BAME, women or people with disabilities)?
I would say make the most of every opportunity you are offered. Everyone you meet has the potential to be important in your future career.