Lyndsey Fox - MGeol Geology graduate

Current employer: The Natural History Museum, London

Current job title: Post-doctoral Researcher/Palaeontologist

Current location: London

"The staff in the geology department encouraged me to do a summer research project; this led to me presenting my work at conferences, publishing data, and gave me my first taste of real scientific research."

Tell us what you have been doing since completing your studies.

After my MGeol degree at Plymouth I went on to do a PhD at the University of Leeds. My research focuses on a group of microfossils called foraminifera and what they can tell us about the oceans and past climate change. In 2015 I was offered a research position at the NHM and have been here ever since!

What is the best, most exciting or fun thing that you have done in your career?

In 2015 I sailed for eight weeks on an International Ocean Discovery Program (IODP) expedition in the Indian Ocean. The aim of the expedition was to collect sediment cores that would tell us about the history of the Himalayas and Asian monsoon. I was one of the scientists responsible for dating the sediments we recovered using microfossils. I later got to do fieldwork in the Himalayan Mountains too! 

What would you do differently since graduating? 

I think if I were given my time again there’s not much I would change, even the low points of postgraduate life were important in getting me to where I am now.

Imagine you were about to start university again - with the benefit of hindsight - what would you now tell yourself to have done differently?

Don’t put off until tomorrow what you can do today. I was forever leaving things to the last minute, and sadly I still have my moments now! Also don’t do so many shifts in that dirty cocktail bar - you’ll just spend most of second year exhausted and ill.

What was your main reason for choosing to study your course at Plymouth? With hindsight how significant was this for you? 

I really liked the fieldwork offered with the course at Plymouth, with geology it’s so important to see real world examples to fully understand key concepts. During my degree I got to visit beautiful parts of Wales, Spain, Sicily, and Cyprus that I might never have otherwise seen.

How did we support you in your studies? If you used any support services whilst at the university how did they enable you to get to where you are today?

The library, with its private meeting rooms and 24 hour computer lab, was absolutely vital to me in my 3rd and 4th year. It’s where we revised and wrote up our dissertations and basically got stuff done. I’m also extremely grateful for the University hardship fund, which provided much needed assistance in my 3rd year when I had to give up my bar job to focus on my studies.

How did studying at Plymouth change your career aspirations and plans?

The staff in the geology department encouraged me to do a summer research project; this led to me presenting my work at conferences, publishing data, and gave me my first taste of real scientific research. Their support and encouragement early on in my degree has helped shape my entire career.

What is your favourite memory of studying for your degree at Plymouth? 

I loved living by the sea and all the opportunities to do water sports. I used to go sailing with my friends every Wednesday afternoon around Plymouth Sound. The University heavily subsidised water sports so I think it only cost us £3 each for boat and equipment hire. It was brilliant!

How well did Plymouth prepare you for the challenges that you have faced, or will face, in your career? 

Academically, during my degree course I learned the importance of critical thinking, and developed my spatial thinking which is important for visualising the 3-D problems I encounter every day as a geologist and researcher. In a real world sense, Plymouth is where I finally learned how to function as an adult.

Why would you recommend undertaking a course with Plymouth University?

The University was so welcoming to me; I remember attending the University open day as a 17 year old and instantly feeling at home. Plymouth as a city is just a great place to live to explore the south-west of England, which is still one of my favourite places in the world.

Inspired by this story?

For more information about studying MGeol Geology, please visit our MGeol Geology page. For more information about our range of courses within the School of Geography, Earth and Environmental Sciences, please visit the school page.

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