Loreto Abbey Dalkey, Dublin and Trinity College Dublin
I have a BSc degree in Earth Science and am currently studying for a PhD
Rippon Vineyard (New Zealand) as a pruner and harvester of vines, lots of cafes and shops as a college student (too many to name!)
PhD researcher with iCRAG (Irish Centre for Research in Applied Geosciences)
My employer is iCRAG, otherwise known as the Irish Centre for Research in Applied Geosciences. iCRAG have lots of PhD researchers and Professors in many universities all over Ireland carrying out work related to our environment. I work from Trinity College Dublin as that is where my PhD supervisor is based 🙂
Check out iCRAG here: https://www.icrag-centre.org
Favourite thing to do in science: Field work!
About Me: Hi There! I am an Earth Scientist, studying for a PhD in environmental geochemistry. I love the outdoors, exploring the world and learning lots about our amazing planet!
I’m from Dun Laoghaire but now I live in Drumcondra with my two best pals! I love music (my favourite band is London Grammar). I also love to cook and experiment in the kitchen, it especially helps me de-stress after a long day of working on my PhD 🙂 I love hiking and swimming in the sea and generally being out in nature, what could be better!
My Work: I dig up bogs and search through them for volcanic ash from Iceland! This ash can help us understand how many big volcanic eruptions happened in the past over thousands of years.
Peat bogs are super cool….why? Because they can capture what falls from our atmosphere right at the time it happened and then hold these bits and bobs inside them as they grow over many thousands of years. Remember the big eruption from Iceland in 2010? Lots of aeroplanes were told not to fly, and some people in Ireland even found ash on their cars! This is because when an eruption is large enough, the ash (and lots of gases) can travel very far up into the atmosphere and move across the globe! So we can record volcanic eruptions from Iceland (and other places) in Ireland! All inside our peat bogs. The reason this volcanic ash in bogs is so important is because us scientists think that when an ice cap over a volcano melts (like they are doing today due to climate change) then more eruptions will happen! Think of it like a fizzy drink, the ice cap is the bottle lid, and the magma and gases are the fizzy drink, when we remove this lid, the gases want to come out…and if we’ve shaken it, the liquid will come out too! So when we melt an ice cap maybe we are increasing the chances that magma will come out onto the earth surface through a volcanic eruption. If we want to understand how future climate change might increase volcanic eruptions we need to look at the past, when ice caps have melted before, so we can learn about it. So our bogs act as records of important volcanic activity in Iceland over thousands of years. I also use some very fancy instruments to search for volcanic chemicals in the bogs that would have been carried in the gases from an eruption. Ask me any questions you like if you’re confused 🙂
Here we are in the field (on a bog) using special equipment to dig inside the whole bog!
My Typical Day: I am a PhD student so we don't have very normal working hours. I usually start work at 9 or 10 o clock in the morning. I will start my morning by reading! Then I will go into my lab and cut up peat so I can burn it and find out how much water is inside it. I will then play around with a special machine to make it work so it can search for volcanic ash and gases inside the bogs (this takes a lot of time!). In the summer time I can go out on field work in Northern Ireland and collect some samples using very heavy equipment! We will scramble through trees and bushes and bumpy ground to get to the perfect place to take a sample. Soon these samples will be ready to put into the machine so we can see what secrets they hold about volcanoes in Iceland :)
Right now (before coronavirus), my typical day would look something like this:
- Get into work at 10am. Read an article about work similar to mine, maybe take some notes and have a nice cup of tea or coffee.
- Collect my peat bog samples from the big fridge and open them up in the lab, they look something like this:
3. These samples then get split up into smaller bits and are put inside an oven overnight to calculate how much water is inside (peat bogs are very wet, think about when you walk on a bog…it’s easy to get stuck!). The next day I will have to put them into an even hotter oven to calculate how many plants are inside the bog. Plants are made of organic matter (carbon) so this burns away at really higher temperatures. The leftovers from this will be bits of rock and hopefully…..some volcanic ash!
4. I will also spend some time using this machine in the picture below. I play around with the settings so I can practice and make sure it works perfectly for when I want to find certain chemicals in the samples I collect from the peat bogs.
5. I will finish up in the lab at around 5pm and then spend another hour writing about what I did and what I noticed when I was working the machine and how I can improve it next time.
6. 6pm, now its time to go home, do some exercise and make a nice meal! yum
How would you describe yourself in 3 words?
Curious, Optimistic, Enthusiastic
Who is your favourite singer or band?
What's your favourite food?
What is the most fun thing you've done?
What did you want to be after you left school?
An Earth Scientist/Environmental Scientist
Were you ever in trouble at school?
What was your favourite subject at school?
What's the best thing you've done as a scientist?
Walked inside a lava tube!
What or who inspired you to become a scientist?
A natural curiosity for trying to understand how our Earth works, I find it fascinating.
If you weren't a scientist, what would you be?
A nature photographer
If you had 3 wishes for yourself what would they be? - be honest!
1. To write a good scientific paper 2. For humans to have better care for the environment 3. To see Earth from space
Tell us a joke.
How do you make an octopus laugh?? With ten-tickles!