Clare Nasir is one of meteorology’s most recognisable faces, having fronted GMTV and ITN broadcasts for many years. A Plymouth graduate in mathematics, and at masters-level in applied marine sciences, she has recently returned to the Met Office, where she began her career in the early 90s. She is a filmmaker and author, and still presents the weather daily on Channel 5. In November 2017, she returned to the University to speak at the Postgraduate Open Evening – and sat down with CONNECT for a trip down memory lane.
Q: When did you first become interested in the sciences?
Probably when I was at primary school. I loved maths and geography, and I’ve always wanted to study them – and still do. You are as good as your teachers, especially in those early years, and so when I came to Plymouth to study maths I pretty much ‘struck gold’.
Q: What attracted you to the University at that time?
I wanted to study fluid dynamics, and so I needed a really strong department in that field. I was able to combine my love of the natural processes with mathematics as a language. I specialised in applied maths and my degree was the mathematics of the upper atmosphere, and I then went on to do a masters in oceanography – and the mathematics of – and that was a perfect set up to study maths but with a discipline attached.
Q: Why did you choose to do a masters at that time?
The masters was actually a step towards a PhD, so it was a no-brainer at the time. I had a high maths grade and there was NERC funding for a masters so I applied and got the only place. I had a lot of support from my professor at the time, Phil Dyke, and I was going to carry on to the PhD, but it was money that stopped me going further. So I set my goals on joining another scientific institution – and that was the Met Office. The odds were something like 1 in 800, but because of my maths degree here, my masters, and my thesis in both, it pretty much pushed me to the top of the list.
Q: What are some of your most treasured memories of being here?
I really loved the lectures and the diversity – I could have chosen to have gone down other routes such as computing. I loved the teachers and tutors and found them to be really accessible, and that helped to cement the knowledge you got from the lectures. I loved the campus even in the late 80s/early 90s, because everything was within walking distance. And I love Plymouth as a city; the backdrop is absolutely beautiful. So from my point of view it was a wonderful place to be and I never wanted to leave. You sensed there was magic going on, and to this day some of my best memories are from here.
Q: When you went into the Met Office, did you have any idea that you were going to be in front of the camera?
Yes. I had to do a screen test as well as the scientific interview, and I’ve always enjoyed talking about the weather. Even when I was an undergraduate, I was teaching maths to psychologists, so I’ve always felt I can communicate difficult subjects in a way that people understand. With broadcasting, you have to be able to bring the subject down from the technical level, so perhaps I was always better suited to that than being a PhD student!