Photo:

Kate Salmon

Amazing live chat!

Favourite Thing: I love going out to sea and exploring to collect my samples. I have to go aboard a large ship for weeks at a time to collect mud from the bottom of the ocean!

My CV

Education:

Shrewsbury High School (a long time ago), Durham University (2005-2008), Southampton University (2008-2009), Open University (2011-present)

Qualifications:

BSc. MSc. (PhD- pending!)

Work History:

Geosciences Advisory Unit

Current Job:

PhD Student

Employer:

Open University

Me and my work

I look at how climate change is affecting the biology of the oceans

There is more CO2 in the atmosphere today than there has been for the entire of human history.  This CO2 dissolves in the ocean and reacts with ocean water to create a weak acid.  This is called “Ocean Acidification” and it is particularly harmful to bugs in the ocean which build their homes out of calcium carbonate (the same thing as chalk and the white cliffs of Dover).

The microscopic bugs which I am looking at are called “Foraminifera” and they are very beautiful myimage1.  They are also like time machines because they have existed for millions of years and are used by geologists to look at ancient climate change which happened when the dinosaurs lived.  This is why I am using them to look at the recent past (the last 30 years) to see how they have been affected by the current climate change and ocean acidification which is happening today.

My Typical Day

Looking at beautiful bugs under the microscope, plotting graphs and meeting other scientists to talk about their discoveries

Every day is different for me and can vary based on what part of the project I am doing.  Here’s a selection of some of the things I get up to:

Ship Work

Sometimes I go out to sea myimage3– anywhere from the Pacific Ocean to the Arctic Ocean to the sub-tropical Atlantic Ocean to collect sediment samples from the sea floor myimage2.  My other samples are collected in a big cup called a “sediment trap“, suspended in the ocean water at ~1.5km depth.  This cup collects all the dead stuff which falls from the surface of the ocean .

Microscope Work

In the microscope lab I look at the dead bugs under the microscope and pick them out with a very fine paintbrush.  I then measure the size and weight of the bugs using a computer program and this can tell me something about how happy these bugs were.  The bigger the bug, the happier!

Chemistry Work

I crush my dead bugs so they can be cleaned with chemicals.  When they are cleaned, I can measure the chemistry of their shells on a big machine and this can tell me something about the water where they lived and how acidic it was.

Computer Work

Eventually, when I get all my data off the machine, I then have to plot it in diagrams and write a story about what is happening based on what I see and what other scientists have seen.  I will then try to publish my findings in a scientific magazine so they can be read by other scientists.

What I'd do with the money

I haven’t decided yet but I want you lot to give me some ideas

I am looking forward to speaking to you guys about science and I want to find out more about what you would like to know.  I need your help to give me some ideas about the things that you think would help other kids learn about science.  I will then take some of the best ideas and put them to the test!

My Interview

How would you describe yourself in 3 words?

Passionate, Inquisitive, Outdoorsy

Who is your favourite singer or band?

Too many to choose… but I think Beethoven was a bit of a rockstar

What's your favourite food?

The 3 C’s. Cheese, Chocolate, Curry

What is the most fun thing you've done?

Camped out on a glacier in Alaska

What did you want to be after you left school?

A writer, a musician and a scientist

Were you ever in trouble in at school?

Yes! I started a petition against the head teacher once to extend P.E. lessons. Our whole year got detention for signing it!!

What was your favourite subject at school?

Biology, Chemistry and Music

What's the best thing you've done as a scientist?

Sailed to the Arctic

What or who inspired you to become a scientist?

My biology teacher Mr. Brown and chemistry teacher Mrs. Day. Also my maths teacher said I was bad at maths and I wanted to prove her wrong.

If you weren't a scientist, what would you be?

An explorer- science is also exploring so that’s good enough for me

If you had 3 wishes for yourself what would they be? - be honest!

To walk to the South Pole. To build my own eco-house in New Zealand. To become a mushroom scientist (mycologist)

Tell us a joke.

What do you call two dinosaurs that have been in an accident? Tyrannosaurus wrecks

Other stuff

Work photos: