Research Fellow, Volcanology, Dr. Erouscilla P. Joseph @erouscillaj: A Day in the GeoLife Series

NAME: Dr. Erouscilla P. Joseph

CURRENT TITLE: Research Fellow (Volcanology) at The University of the West Indies (UWI) Seismic Research Centre

AREA OF EXPERTISE: Involved in the study of fluid geochemistry associated with active volcanic systems. My primary responsibilities include the collection and analysis of volcanic gases and geothermal waters in the islands of the Lesser Antilles and its application to monitoring changes in volcanic activity. My research interests also include the study of atmospheric dispersion of volcanic gases and their impacts on public health.


EDUCATION: UWI, St. Augustine, Trinidad BSc.Chemistry & Zoology 1999; UWI, St. Augustine, Trinidad M.Phil. Chemistry 2003; UWI, St. Augustine, Trinidad Ph.D Volcanology 2008

TWITTER: @erouscillaj

What’s your job like?

My job is challenging and fulfilling! There are two main components: monitoring and research. The Seismic Research Centre (SRC) is responsible for monitoring earthquake and volcanic activity in the English-speaking islands of the Lesser Antilles. My job involves fieldwork in these islands, where I do sampling of water and gases from fumaroles and hot springs. There is a lot of hiking involved and many hours in the hot sun. Then the samples have to be analysed and the results interpreted. I’m also involved in other research interests that look at how ambient gases from diffuse emissions from hydrothermal systems potentially affect public health. This has involved collaboration with other researchers from the United Kingdom (UK) on the use and development of low-cost technology for monitoring volcanic gases. At SRC, I also get involved in public outreach activities related to promoting earthquake and hazards awareness.


Research Fellow, Dr. Erouscilla P. Joseph (left) filtering water samples in the field at the Cold Soufriere, Dominica. ©2018 Dr. Erouscilla P. Joseph

What’s a typical day like?

An average day at the office may include helping with administrative things like the sale and shipping of books that the SRC publishes, attending meetings, scheduling and chairing in-house seminars, writing manuscripts and supervising graduate students. Fieldwork usually takes place during the first half of the year for us as it is less rainy, however, I sometimes still go in the field at any time of the year. Preparing for fieldwork usually takes careful planning as it requires going to other islands. SRC is based in Trinidad, which is non-volcanic, and we travel to the volcanic islands in the Lesser Antilles Arc. Ensuring that everything is packed and all of the necessary paperwork is done is essential to a successful field campaign. I am usually out from early in the morning until late in the evening while doing fieldwork because of the need to maximise our day. At the end of the evening, I usually enjoy a nice dinner with my field colleagues before we prepare for the next day.

What’s fun?

My job is a very enriching one that has allowed me to visit other countries and see parts of the world that I would have never been able to do otherwise. I’ve had opportunities to visit and explore countries such as Cuba, Chile, Ecuador, and British Colombia, as well as most of the islands of the Lesser Antilles, providing a chance to strengthen my language skills and meet people from other cultures. The chance to collaborate and learn from other researchers around the world and be involved in multidisciplinary research has been very rewarding.

KECK geology

Dr. Erouscilla Joseph with colleagues (Dr. Holli Frey, Dr. Laura Waters, and Dr. Amanda Schmidt) and undergraduates students from various United States universities on a KECK Geology funded research field campaign at the Boiling Lake, Dominica. ©2018 Dr. Erouscilla P. Joseph

What’s challenging?

Sometimes balancing home life and work responsibilities can be challenging. We also have financial constraints with our budget that does pose a challenge for research funding. This means we often have to look for external grants and partners to collaborate with in order to get things done.

What’s your advice to students?

My advice to students both during and after attending university would be to stay motivated. Hard work pays off and encountering challenges along the way is all part of the process. Get involved in groups and societies on campus or in the wider national society and meet as many people as you can–it can lead to many opportunities.

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