NAME: Pierre Lardeux
CURRENT TITLE: PhD Student
AREA OF EXPERTISE: Glaciology
YEARS OF EXPERIENCE: 3
EDUCATION: PhD candidate, self-funded; Aberystwyth University Athena SWAN Postgraduate Representative, Department of Geography and Earth Sciences, Centre for Glaciology.
What’s your job like?
There are two sides to my job: the office side and the fieldwork side. Obviously, the most exciting is the fieldwork part, but the office part is not bad at all. This is because when I’m in the office, I can prepare for fieldwork (you know the cool bit), use fancy software to build a digital version of the glacier that I’m studying (Glacier Noir, French Alps) in 3D, or make posters to present my results in big conferences like the American Geophysical Union (AGU) in two weeks or the European Geosciences Union (EGU) in April 2016.
My last fieldwork event was in 2014, with one full month on Glacier Noir and Glacier Blanc in the French Alps with two undergraduate students and one MSc student. This trip was great especially because the weather was nice and I was able to play with one of my favorite toys: the Global Positioning System (GPS)! I also played with new toys like water gauging stations, temperature probes and ablation stakes. So, fieldwork is definitely the best part of the job.
On the downside of the office job, there are endless email trails, super slow computers that take forever to interpolate 10,000 sampling points in my 3D models, and reading mountains of articles to be sure to not say stupid things. But all-in-all, I really like my job!
What’s a typical day like?
Can a PhD student have a typical day? Not sure…. and that’s the main interest of doing a PhD: you can’t really get bored. Yeah, sure, sometimes I do the same thing every day for a couple of weeks/months, but it’s to get the data and results. After, I can move on and do the fun part: analyzing the data and arrive with a big conclusion (sometimes :D). I like the fact that as a PhD student I can come to work and decide what I’m going to do when my computer starts… and usually the first thing I do is check my email (just in case somebody very rich wants to fund my research :P). Other than that, it really depends on what I’m up to at the moment: a giant table in Excel, micro-cartography in QGIS, or writing a mind-blowing article for a big journal or an awesome post for Rock-Head Sciences.
Deciding which direction I want my project to go and realising that I have amazing results thanks to that!
Deciding which direction I want my project to go and realising that I have awful results because of that! Yep, usually when it’s fun it’s challenging too!
What’s your advice to students?
If you want to do a PhD, brace yourself, find something well-funded because doing research without proper resources is really tiring and sometimes a bit depressing. One last thing: lead your project and be sure of what you want to achieve.