About Me

I am a twenty-three year old NERC DTP Environmental Research D.Phil student at the University of Oxford. I hold a B.Sc in Geography and M.Sc in Quaternary Science from Royal Holloway, University Of London. I had an amazing time during my studies at Royal Holloway and during this period, developed my enthusiasm for climate sciences and the environment.

My undergraduate dissertation was entitled: ‘A multi-proxy approach: Detecting Abrupt Climatic Shifts Within The Holocene At Llangorse, Wales, UK.’  The project involved the analysis of a lacustrine carbonate sequence through the use of the following proxies: initial sedimentological analysis via Troel-Smith and Munsell colour classification; calcium carbonate; total organic carbon; magnetic susceptibility; thin section micromorphology; stable  isotopic measurements of δ16O/18O and δ12C/13C. It was an extremely enjoyable project but was hindered by a lack of chronological control.

In my undergraduate degree, I was lucky enough to be supported by excellent staff members. I was invited to support staff as a field assistant in Star Carr, North Yorkshire in order to obtain sediment for analysis. In addition, I was also given support in order to obtain an internship at the Niels Bohr Institute – Centre for Ice and Climate. I worked for 1 week here and undertook analysis on ice cores from Greenland – it really was a childhood dream come true. I also managed to work with incredible world-leading experts and learnt a lot during this period.

My learning continued during my Masters degree and I developed a better understanding for the need to have strong chronologies underpinning climatological findings. In addition, I became more aware that the Southern hemisphere is so, so understudied. As a result, I felt, and still feel, that this is an area of research that must be focussed upon with relative urgency. Therefore, I undertook my Masters thesis within the Southern hemisphere and focussed on using tephrochronology as a tool to improve chronological precision.

After the Masters, I was left exhausted (anyone who has done the Quaternary Science Masters will understand why!) and felt I needed some time away from education. After about 2 weeks, I missed the science and the reading and the work. I applied for PhD’s at the University of Oxford and the University of Adelaide and am now undertaking a fully funded NERC PhD at Oxford with Dr. Victoria Smith as my primary supervisor and Dr. Karen Fontijn and Prof. Stefan Wastegård as co-supervisors. This project is investigating volcanic activity in South America through the use of tephrochronology.

This blog is designed to provide a platform for regular or irregular (time-dependant) posts that are of interest to me. This may be directly related to my field of research, say, tephra, but equally, simply on the subject of climate change and the politics surrounding this. I appreciate comments and feedback.

Email: Rebecca.Smith_[at]_seh.ox.ac.uk

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