• Photo by Nicolas J Leclercq on Unsplash
  • Photo by Nicolas Tissot on Unsplash
  • Photo by NASA on Unsplash
  • Photo by USGS on Unsplash

PhD Life Experiences

Hannah Rogers has just submitted her PhD thesis at the University of Edinburgh and is a member of the IAGA Social Media team. Her specialism is in investigating regional magnetic fields of Earth at the surface and the core-mantle boundary using mathematical methodologies. In this blog, she tells us about her experiences during her PhD. You can follow her on Twitter at @Hannah_Rogers94.

I’ve really enjoyed my experience as a PhD student. This has mostly been due to the fabulous community of scientists I have had surrounding me during my research. My supervisors have been great at encouraging me to get involved in opportunities outside my project and I have developed so many skills to take forward in my career. My PhD has provided me with experiences I would not have had otherwise and I loved saying yes to them!

Assisting teaching undergraduate students has been an excellent use of my time. It gave me time away from my computer models and the chance to recap my geophysics knowledge outside of my main discipline. It is extremely satisfying to work with a student and watch the moment they grasp the concept they are struggling with and to know you have helped with their understanding of the world they live in. It’s given me confidence with explaining complex ideas and provided a structure during term time.

A very rainy electrical resistivity profile when teaching undergraduate students geophysical techniques in Shropshire, England.

I undertook two industry placements during my PhD which provided me with the chance to learn new skills like grant writing for ESA industry funding, organising projects and working with different remote sensing data. It was useful to see how academia and industry varied, and have exposure to different sized companies. I developed coding skills in different languages and my understanding of machine learning.

High resolution passive microwave temperature soundings of Typhoon Hagibis from Orbital Micro Systems, 2019.

I really appreciated meeting other graduate students within my department to provide perspective and friendship when times were tough during the PhD, and students from summer schools and other PhD programmes provided a way to broaden my knowledge and discuss ideas. I sat on a committee to run talks and social events for the Earth Science graduate community, which I absolutely loved! It was amazing to meet and work with scientists of all types from across Earth Science and give something back to the community that supported me. 

University of Edinburgh Grad School Event

Finally, working with the IAGA social media group has deepened my understanding of the magnetics community outside of the main field of Earth. I’ve met some really interesting scientists through this and feel like I am contributing to promoting the work of scientists in our field and creating a wider magnetics community.

My main pieces of advice for PhD students is to say yes to opportunities, build friendships with other PhD students (they are the only people who will understand the crazy roller-coaster you are on), and take time to rest in order to work at your best.

Read about her research topic in detail in the next blog. Find an abstract of her PhD topic here.

Ranking sci-fi movies

In today's blog, we plan to do something interesting. Rank space movies based on the science and absurdity they depicted. Science can be fun, so can stupidity. But if too much absurdity is miserably explained by science, it gets a little annoying. 

Disclaimer- This list only has movies that I have seen and remember

So, the first movie that passes all the vibe checks for being a sci-fi is *****drumroll***** THE MARTIAN

I know many of you will hate me for putting it as No. 1 instead of No. 2 but hear me out. It's just that the chances of it happening are much higher than my next choice. Almost all science checks out and it gives us a happy ending! Also, I think I'm partial because I work on Mars. Aannddd... the novel is good too. Give it a go if you have some spare time.

The next one HAS to be INTERSTELLAR of course!

No doubt it is one of the best and scientifically accurate movies and it is everybody's favourite. It has all the elements - it makes you happy, sad, scared and angry, all at the same time. And not to forget that the soundtrack is just out of this world (pun intended).

This also has a novel to explain all the science that happened theoretically. 

No. 3 is GRAVITY

It was a lonely and depressing movie for me but that's exactly how space is if you get stranded. We really should be happy just to be alive and living perfectly well on Earth. That itself is a miracle. Any other scenario and our planet would have ended up like one of its near or far neighbours. After many failed attempts at life in countless other planets, this one just finally managed to get the equations right :D

No. 4...... I think is CONTACT

Let's admit it, we all want to see aliens. At least I do! There's no way we are alone in this huge huugeee universe. Just that I think if we are the higher beings in terms of intelligence and scientific advancement, we need to find life elsewhere. And if the aliens are the higher beings, they probably saw us and don't want to get in contact??? 

#sadlife #alienshateus #waitingforET

Well, the blog is getting long and I think I need to do at least one that is bad too. 

So, let's put No. 5 as GEOSTORM

Oh my god, the movie was a storm. In a really bad way. Normally, I like watching disaster movies (Special mention - Twister! I think that movie cemented my decision of studying science to become a scientist) or the-world-is-going-to-end movies, but definitely not this one. It was just a lot of things that don't make sense.

Other Disclaimer- I have seen many other good (and bad) movies in many different languages but I just don't have the space to write about them. Maybe we need a continuation of this blog? Comment movies you think should have been here!

Shivangi Sharan is a third year PhD student at the Laboratory of Planetology and Geosciences in France. Her research focusses on the study of the magnetic field of planets and to infer their internal structure from it. She is an active member of the IAGA Blog Team and can be contacted via e-mail here.


PhD in IAGA #4

IAGA has a lot of different scientists working on various topics. In this series of blogs, we will introduce some topics that are being worked on by PhD students. Hopefully this will give a better picture of the work being done in the field and encourage more early career researchers.

Hannah Rogers, a PhD candidate at the University of Edinburgh, says:

In my research, I'm interested in separating the Earth's magnetic field into local regions to better comprehend the core-mantle interactions. Most core flow and magnetic field models are described by spherical harmonics. However, they are not suitable for separation into different regions due to leakage. I instead use spherical Slepian functions to spatially and spectrally separate bandlimited potential fields. Long-lived features of the magnetic field have been guessed to be linked to Large Low Velocity Provinces (LLVPs). They are low seismic velocity regions in the lowermost mantle. My aim is to use the Slepian functions to investigate how LLVPs affect core surface flows over time.

The outer core and lower mantle interactions. The arrows represent the magnetic field lines. Credits : Kay Lancaster