Josie Robinson: How did I become involved in Ocean Sciences?


In this post I’ll talk a little bit about how I ended up doing a PhD at the world class National Oceanography Centre, Southampton. Let me hold my hands up and say it was never my grand design from childhood to be an oceanographer, I have very much been carried here by the current of my life.

As for most, my life direction was decided during high school, when I had to choose between Geography and History for my GSCE’s. Fortunately for me, I made the correct decision, aided by the offer of a school trip to Malham, North Yorkshire, if I took geography.

I did ok in my GCSE’s, a solid average, but geography was by far my favourite subject from school so naturally I took it again at A-level, though, mainly for the physical geography (I hated human geography!). In addition to geography, I took geology, because I had an older cousin who’d done that at university and seemed to enjoy. You’re probably realizing at this age I was yet to be captivated by natural sciences, but it was during these A levels years that I really set my heart on the natural world and it developed into what will no doubt be my life long passion. It was also during A level geology that I had my first taste of oceanography, along side plate tectonics, volcanoes and earthquakes! All very exciting!

Hawaii_confAlthough I miss out on cruises, I still get to travel the world going to international conferences. I took this picture at the last conference I attended which was in Honolulu, Hawaii. At conferences, we can present posters of our research to discuss with like minded people. Here’s a small crowd around my poster, they’re clearly very impressed!

I managed to carry on this exciting earth science path by being accepted to study at the University of Leeds. I hadn’t been able to chose just one area of nature that I was interested in, so I took a course called Earth System Science, which basically meant I learned the basics of all the earth sciences (meteorology, oceanography, palaeoclimatology – the list goes on) and crucially how they interact and influence each other. It soon came to my final year and I had to do a dissertation, so daunting! None of the listed projects I could chose from interested me that much, so, and I don’t really know why, I sought out the University’s only resident oceanographer at that time. When the results were announced I found out that I’d produced a first class dissertation, the greatest achievement of my life up to that point. From then I was set on oceanography. I decided I no longer wanted to be a “jack of all trades, but master of none” – so I took my masters in Oceanography at the National Oceanography Centre and here I am, still here today doing a PhD!

Hai_conv_centreHawaii really is the place to go for a conference. Here’s a snap inside the Hawaii Convention Center, that’s a palm tree growing inside, almost as tall as the building itself! Nearly everyone was wearing holiday wear, mainly Hawaiian shirts. Some wore swim wear underneath so they could go to the beach for a snorkel with turtles after a hard days work. 

I am by no means a genius, but I found something that I was interested in enough to push myself to the limits of my abilities. I’ve been extremely lucky in having the most amazing teachers, tutors and lecturers (and now supervisors!) throughout my entire time in education. I’d like to thank them for getting me where I am today.


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