Only 1.5 weeks left at work before we close for Christmas and 2016 will come to an end – what better time to have a look back at the year –  my 2nd year as a postdoc at Heriot-Watt University – and do some cheesy reflection.

If I had to pick one word to sum up 2016 it would have to be TRAVEL:

  • 3 conferences: EGU-Vienna, AAPG-Italy & ALERT-France to give talks
  • 2 field work trips: France to collect oolitic limestone samples & Brazil to collect laminite samples and to meet colleagues from UFPE (Universidade Federal de Pernambuco)
  • 1 sponsor meeting to present our results: Brazil

(this does not include the trips I did for holidays or to visit friends & family)

There were a couple of times where it felt like it was too much and I missed being in the lab. But all of these trips were very useful for networking and to get new ideas. For example during our field trip to Brazil (August) I met a postdoc from UFPE who works on the same rocks as me but on the outcrop and basin scale.

Laminite quarry – Nova Olinda, NE Brazil

And we found out that some deformation features that we produce in the lab also occur in the outcrops – with that in mind we started to wonder if these features can be scaled up easily and what the relationship might be. So we applied for a Newton Research Collaboration grant to have a 2-way exchange to start working together more closely. I just found out that the application was successful and that Tiago will be coming to Heriot-Watt for 3 months in February – I hope he’s ready for the cold and wet weather…and I will be going to Brazil for 3 months in May – and I’m definitely ready for the heat.

The other trips were also very useful for networking and to make new connections – one of the reasons I love EGU and ALERT – these are 2 conferences at either end of the conference spectrum. EGU is attended by thousands of researchers with many parallel sessions and can be quite overwhelming. But I love it for its outreach sessions, events for early career researchers and to meet friends and colleagues that work in other Earth Science fields since we don’t tend to meet at specialised conferences.

My performance at the science poetry slam @ EGU 2016

ALERT couldn’t be further away from the EGU experience – it’s a specialised workshop in geomechanics and maybe 100-150 people attend and you all stay in the ski lodge with everything in the village closed – so you hang out with everyone for three full days – which is perfect to get tips on software, meet people who can help you on things you might be stuck and it feels very much like one big happy family.

Last but not least the sponsor meeting in Brazil (March) – it was my first time flying for this length of time and first time in South America. I’m not sure why but it was never on my travel list – but was I wrong. Rio de Janeiro and the other parts I have seen so far are absolutely great. Everyone was really helpful even when I had to wiggle my way through with a mix of English, French & Spanish – since Portuguese is quite tricky to learn.

Looking back I can’t believe I get to travel so much for work & have all of these great memories and experiences – even if sometimes I wish they could beam people already.

What word would sum up your 2016?