PhD Student, Glacial Hydrology, Marc Matterson @MarcMatterson: A Day in the GeoLife Series

Photograph taken again at the Aguille du Midi summit in Chamonix, France. Background shows the Matterhorn peak in Switzerland as well as Monte Rosa.  Copyright 2014 Marc Matterson

Photograph taken again at the Aguille du Midi summit in Chamonix, France. Background shows the Matterhorn peak in Switzerland as well as Monte Rosa. Copyright 2014 Marc Matterson

NAME:  Marc Matterson

CURRENT TITLE:  PhD student and lecturer at the University of Salford, England

AREA OF EXPERTISE:  Glacial hydrology, sedimentology, modelling and climatology

YEARS EXPERIENCE:  3 years (BSc Geography)

EDUCATION:  First class honours BSc Geography whilst also obtaining the Kerry Worthington Award for best Dissertation at the University of Salford 2014. Currently in first year of PhD studies.

What’s your job like?

Combination of tasks, obviously research on my PhD is the main focus. My area of study is Zermatt, Switzerland. Glaciers such as Findelengletscher and Gornergletscher both provide substantial data which has been collected now for more than 40 continuous years throughout the ablation season. Taking part in field trips, lectures and seminars for undergraduate students and helping develop their skills and knowledge along the way.

What’s a typical day like?

Not one day is the same as another. Some days are exciting, motivating, and happy whilst there are also days of frustration, fatigue and sometimes boredom. You just have to make sure that you remember the good times to push you through the bad spells. I am currently studying for my PhD along with working part-time in luxury goods. This is something which I have had to continue with in order to fund my living costs allowing me to stay close to university and not having to move home nearly 3 hours away. I have an office which I share with a small selection of PhD students as well as access to facilities such as the library and laboratories whenever I need them. I am now entering week 7 of my PhD studies so reading is vital at the moment. Learning computer programs which I had not used during undergraduate studies, for example, R Programming is also something which I am increasing my knowledge on.

What’s fun?

I personally love that moment when you link two pieces of information together and figure something out for the first time. Learning something new every day and then being able to pass on that knowledge to both students and peers. Going out into the field is also an experience you will never forget, even during cold days collecting samples you still have fun! Not knowing what is coming next also creates huge excitement, dealing with yearly sediment samples collected since 1973 and seeing how they alter throughout time due to a varying number of factors is especially exciting and challenging (particularly because they were collected 20 years before I was born!).


Photograph taken up the Aguille du Midi, Chamonix. Stop off point before heading to the summit. Copyright 2014 Marc Matterson

What’s challenging?

The biggest challenge which I have faced is the step up from BSc to PhD. I have always been credited on my punctuality and time management so sticking to deadlines and independent timetables was not too difficult. Mainly the enhanced workload, for example, vast datasets, extended reading, file organization, as well as learning new programming software. Luckily I have a good supervisor who I am in constant contact with and visit on a regular basis to keep me on track. Another side-challenge is having to work a part-time job alongside my studies, this means some days I may not be able to complete any research although I am often seen with some sort of literature on the train or bus heading to and from work.

What’s your advice to students?

Don’t look at your studies as something you need to complete, hand in and move onto the next assignment. Take a bit of interest, listen to the experts around you and take advantage of their knowledge on the subject. You can then use that knowledge to inspire yourself and others around you. Everybody has genius-level talent, they just have to find out what they are genius at and then apply themselves in a way that supports that genius. First recognise that genius, and then believe in it.

%d bloggers like this: