Lights, camera soil!

So as my job comes to an end it feels nice to be able to reflect on a busy and varied last week. Amongst the many tasks I had more lab work, field work, my first appearance on film and of course more cake. Monday was much the same as the work I did last week but Tuesday and Wednesday brought the chance to do more fieldwork.

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The beautiful Newlands valley

The task was to dismantle the exclusion cages that were designed to keep cattle and sheep out of an area so they wouldn’t affect the vegetation or soil in the enclosures. The job basically involved lots of hammering, snipping, force and hard work, especially as the people who assembled the cages made a very good job of making them sturdy! It was nice to be outside and was a good break from lab work and the site of the farm is in Newlands valley, an absolutely beautiful part of the Lake District. I think if you’re going into research in the environment there are definitely good chances to work in some amazing places. Just speaking to people around the department students as part of their PhD get to go to places like the Scottish highlands, the Swiss Alps, China, the Amazon and the list goes on, so if you like beautiful places and travelling I’ve found there is certainly scope for that sort of thing in environmental science research.

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Hard at work!

The second day in Newlands marked the beginning of my film career which I’m led to believe will be long and fruitful! (or maybe not). Basically Beth was going to the natural history museum in London to present to the public the sort of research she was conducting. She thought to make soil science a bit more interactive and interesting it would be a good idea to make a short video on how to sample soil. As Beth explained this to me I agreed that it would be a nice but I didn’t realise that it would be me as the lead actor! So slightly daunted I hastily learned the script (that beth dictated to me just before she turned on the camera) and after a few takes my acting career had begun. I’ve just got myself an agent who said that I should expect an Oscar for my lead roll! Clearly this isn’t true but it was all good fun and something a bit different.

My last couple of days was back in the lab and seemed to go really quickly. On Friday afternoon the end of my time in the soil lab was marked with cake and a good luck card for the beginning of my masters, which was a really nice send off from a good bunch of people.

So that’s it a month working in the lab and field has given me fantastic experience and provided me with a few ideas as to what’s out there in the future. My Masters starts soon and I can’t wait to get stuck into a new challenge. On that note I recently received an email saying I had been granted a departmental scholarship that would contribute towards my tuition fees. This came as a really nice financial boost as Masters degrees don’t come cheap. Talking to some friends however, some of which with a better degree than me, were unsuccessful in their application for the same scholarship so it made me think why I got it and some others didn’t. I honestly believe that the voluntary work and the subsequent paid job with Beth was a big boost to my bid for a scholarship and definitely set me apart from some people with better grades than me. So on a parting note this sort of experience is fantastic not only to set you apart on your CV, but also as way to look inside the fascinating world of research and getting to know the people involved.

Alex 🙂

Ps I seem to be unable to upload the video at the moment but I will try later on, this isn’t an attempt to avoid public embarrassment!

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