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

IUGG ECR events

The 28th General Assembly of the International Union of Geodesy and Geophysics (IUGG) will take place from 11-20th July 2023 in Berlin, Germany. The conference has tons of scientific and outreach sessions pertaining to all the 8 associations within IUGG. But more interestingly, for Early Career Researchers (ECR), there will be events catering specifically to their role in the community.

Within the 'Big Themes' sessions of the assembly, many different events will be organised. One of them is focussed entirely on the worries and needs of ECRs. The 'Early Career Scientists: Needs, Wishes and Demands' session will be held at the conference venue on Sunday, 16th July from 12:15 to 13:15 local time. A social evening will be held on Saturday where questions will be developed that will be answered by panel members on Sunday. The events can be attended only by ECRs registered for IUGG. A registration is also required for the social, the details of which have been sent by email to all participants.

Other events in the 'Big Themes' include sessions on equality, diversity and inclusion, the changing practises in science as well as contributions to international frameworks. Even without the events, IUGG will be a great platform for people of all associations to meet and interact with each other. After the pandemic, this will be a major face-to-face event in the community. Look out for sessions beyond your field!

More details about the events can be found here. Additionally, more events within the 'Big Themes' can be found here.

IAGA Workshop Experience: Dr. Amoré Nel

The 19th IAGA Workshop on Geomagnetic Observatory Instruments, Data Acquisition and Processing was held in Tihany and Sopron in Hungary from May 22nd to 26th 2023. Dr. Amoré Nel (in picture at the South African Antarctic base), one of the attendees from the South African National Space Agency tells us about herself and her experience of the workshop.

Friday morning the 19th May, armed with my poster for the 19th IAGA Workshop on Geomagnetic Observatory Instruments, Data Acquisition and Processing I boarded my flight from Cape Town to Vienna. This year it was hosted by the Tihany Geophysical Observatory and the Institute of Earth Physics and Space Science in Sopron, Hungary. There was a short layover in Doha, Qatar, which made my journey to Vienna, Austria 17 hours in total. From there it’s a hop, skip, and a Flixbus to Tihany in Hungary, where the IAGA summer school was held.

This is a long way from where I was born and raised; on a farm in the Free-State, South Africa. There I would spend hours on top of our barn at night with my Cambridge star atlas, becoming familiar with the seasonal patterns of the constellations. This instilled in me a lifelong passion for science. Years later I obtained my PhD in Space Physics: I studied black auroras by analysing EISCAT incoherent scatter radar and optical data and for this I had to do a brief stint in Tromsø, Norway, to get hands-on experience with the instrumentation. During this time I had the most irrational fear of meeting a rabid moose on that isolated road between the optical hut and our accommodation in the dead of night (It never happened of course).

After my PhD I traded in my laptop for an ice pick, and joined the 2018/2019 Antarctic summer takeover team to assist with the maintenance of the South African research base SANAE. Since 2019 I cut my teeth in Geomagnetism with a research visit to the Helmholtz GFZ German Research Centre for Geosciences, where my focus was on recording and analysing magnetometer observatory data and developing Southern African regional geomagnetic field models, under the mentorships of Drs. Jürgen Matzka and Achim Morschhauser. This prepared me for my new position as geomagnetic researcher at the South African National Space Agency in Hermanus.

Group photos from the 19th IAGA Workshop in Tihany (left) and Sopron (right) held in Hungary.

We were met with lovely spring weather in Tihany, and on Sunday we hit the ground running with a lecture on geomagnetic measurements presented by Jürgen Matzka. Detailed talks on observatory instrumentation was given by Hegymegi Lászlo and Domján Ádám on the second day of the programme. Another lecture that stood out was that on Data Processing, presented by Christopher Turbitt from the British Geological Survey. Practical sessions were held by Alan Berarducci at the Tihany observatory, which included DI measurements and Sun shots. Barbara Leichter from GeoSphere Austria and Balazs Heilig from the IEPSS did a fantastic job in organising everything, and guiding us from event to event. Hats off to them, I think it must’ve felt like herding cats! Monday evening we were treated with goulash and some of the local wine at Ferenc Pince overlooking Lake Balaton. Here I could’ve easily stayed for the rest of the week, absolutely marvelous food and company, the Hungarians are fabulous hosts.

Throughout these lectures and social events we had the chance to engage with other members in the geomagnetic observatory network, and I cannot overstate how important these face-to-face interactions are for those still new in the field: The knowledge and connections I’ve gained pertaining to the development and maintenance of geomagnetic observatories are invaluable, and I want to thank the organisers for creating this opportunity for us.

The train from PhD to PostDoc #2

In this new series, we are asking postdocs who have recently received their PhDs on the whens and hows
of the process.

Our interviewee for today's blog is Dr. Hannah Rogers, a postdoc at ISTerre, Universite Grenoble Alpes. She did her PhD at the University of Edinburgh, Scotland. She works on applying mathematical methods to the inversion process that produces core surface flow models from satellite magnetic field change (secular variation) data. Currently she is a member of the GRACEFUL ERC grant, looking at incorporating weighted averages of satellite data to improve stochastic flow models. One day she hopes to use the secular variation to constrain the regional dynamics happening under the seismic anomalies observed at the base of the mantle.

When is the right time to start looking for a postdoc?

This is a very difficult question as I don’t think that there is a ‘right’ time. Unfortunately, there is an element of luck and good timing depending on who gets funding when. Personally, I started thinking about postdocs and future jobs about 7 months before my thesis submission because I wanted to contact people who I had never met (Covid-19 limited conference interactions) and I would have struggled to fund a prolonged career gap. I had multiple rejections and was applying to jobs outside of academia as well. Be flexible and consider what your priorities are: is it staying in the country you live or staying in academia or staying within your direct discipline? It is okay to apply for multiple positions and decide which way you rank them later.

Assuming you want to start right after, how to obtain a postdoc position?

Depending on your situation, it is very difficult to start ‘straight after’ the PhD. When I moved country to start my postdoc, visa applications and paperwork coincided with the French holiday period, meaning that I had to delay my ideal start date. Some friends (particularly those staying at the same institution) were able to start immediately with zero problems! However, I’d recommend that you schedule some time to rest for yourself as well. You will have just submitted (probably) the biggest piece of writing from (probably) one of the most stressful periods of your life! You deserve to give your brain some rest before diving into the next chapter! 

What changes come between PhD and postdoc?

Quite a lot changed for me between my PhD and postdoc – new country, new day-to-day language, new department, new coding language, new satellite dataset, new mathematical process…. However, my colleagues are amazing and I feel excited by tackling new problems that I hadn’t seen during my PhD. I feel like I’m juggling a lot more projects as I try to finish papers from my PhD alongside working on my current job and also having to consider what comes next as well. At the end of the day though, I’m still using satellite data to study an interesting inversion process to try and find out more about the Earth’s outer core motion. Personally, the jump to a postdoc has been really positive and I’ve loved it. This is despite the beginning being overwhelming and at moments you question why you do a job that seems more difficult than working outside of academia.

Let us know your questions in the comments you want answers to in the next blog of the series!