Cast adrift. What does a geologist do between a degree and a PhD?

I’ve finally finished my degree! Currently waiting on tenterhooks until the 13th when I find out my results and whether I’ve got the grades I need. All going well, however, I’ll be starting my (fully funded, woohoo!) PhD on the geochronology of Shetland this September, and I can’t wait!

I’m excited about having the opportunity to carry on doing what I love, with a supervisor I get along well with, in a town I know and like! But right now I feel slightly cast adrift, as I have been working hard over the last 4 years to suddenly be in the position of having nothing to do but wait.

So what are the plans for the next 3.5 months? Well happily, quite a lot! I wouldn’t want to get bored, would I?


In June I’ll be attending the William Smith Meeting at the Geological Society and presenting my work as a poster. Keep an eye out if you’re going, and be nice as it’s my first ‘proper’ conference! I’m really excited about this as it’s directly related to my MSci research and also my PhD so it’ll be great to talk to people who get as excited about geochronology as I do. And the programme, which was released today, looks fantastic!


(Gratuitous picture of some lovely zoned zircons to show how cool they are, although not as cool as garnets – not that I’m biased…)

So presenting at a conference with lots of famous geochronologists. That’s cool. Anything else on the horizon for my 3.5 months ‘off’?


I have a few weeks of term left and I hope to get a few more analyses done to check reproducibility of my dates. This is largely because I had a batch of samples ready to run before I ran out of time on my project, so might as well get them run while I’m available! And the lab is getting a brand spanking new mass spectrometer next week (a TIMS if anyone is interested!) so it’ll be fun to see the effects of that on the data… And of course, I just think mass spectrometers are cool, so it’ll be fun either way!


I’m heading up to the Northern Highlands for about a week in July (the week before my graduation!) to help a friend pick up some samples for her MSci project which is on Rb-Sr in the Northern Moine. Camping up in the Highlands with good company, fantastic geology and excellent whisky. What more could a person ask for?

In August, I need to collect some samples for myself. So I’ll be going up to Shetland for two weeks or so to sort out some geology and do some good old-fashioned rock-bashing wit one of my supervisors. It’ll be great to see the geology again now that I have more of an idea what is going on, and what to look for. I obviously couldn’t turn down the opportunity to see some more geology that looks like this:


For a summer ‘off’ I have rather a lot of geological fun to be getting on with. But to be honest, I prefer that – if I had nearly 4 months of nothing but lazing around, I’d go mad, so it’s probably for the best!

I might try and get a few miles of the South West Coastal Path under my belt too, and maybe a trip up to the Lake District to try and conquer the Wasdale Horshoe if I can.

Anyway, fingers crossed that everything turns out ok, and that the PhD is waiting for me at the end of this!

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