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VMSG 2020

Hello and happy new year!

The end of last year was quite a whirlwind! Alongside tutoring on three undergraduate courses during semester one, I also completed a teaching course organised by the Institute for Academic Development (IAD) in order to gain Associate Fellowship. In my own research I’ve been trying to write my first paper (which is a whole other blog post for another time!) and preparing for the VMSG conference in Plymouth in the new year. I took a well earned break over the Christmas period, at home with friends and family, and I hope you were all also able to take some time away from work.

Blue skies making an appearance over the Barbican on Thursday.

This is the third annual VMSG conference I have attended during my PhD and I think it always gets the new year off to a great start. It’s hard to leave not feeling buoyed up and full of inspiration for the year ahead. Plymouth’s winding cobbled lanes and picture-perfect harbour front made for the perfect backdrop for the this years meeting.

I’ve previously found conferences to be a little overwhelming sometimes. Perhaps it just comes with experience, but this was the first conference I’ve really enjoyed and felt like the discussions and interactions I was able to have with fellow scientists were really positive and productive. This was the first talk I’ve delivered at a conference, and with no parallel sessions, my aim was to communicate my message clearly to a very broad audience. My fitbit watch recorded a peak heart rate at 124 bpm which I think means I was particularly nervous, but as we say in the lunch time running group in the Grant Institute – it’s retrospective fun. I really enjoyed being able to talk about my work to this audience.

My talk featured in session 5 on the theme of Volcanic Hazards & Monitoring. Photo credit: Sally Law

I’m in the process of getting this work written up, so hopefully you will be able to see some of these results very soon. Broadly speaking though, I was presenting my findings from the analysis of a drumbeat episode that occurred at Tungurahua Volcano in Ecuador. Drumbeat seismicity is the name we give to episodes of highly similar, repeating, periodic long-period earthquakes. I’m interested in what volcanic processes generate these curious phenomena and I’m open to discussions with folks about these source mechanisms. So if you have ideas about plug processes in intermediate volcanoes or magma bodies degassing, I’d love to have a chat.

Across all 7 themes in both posters and talks, there was a huge variety of research on show and it was great to see so many students presenting! I particularly enjoyed VMSG Award Winner David Pyle’s talk, using a number of historical references and accounts of volcanic activity.

I’d like to say thank you to both the VMSG and local organising committee for putting together such a great week of science. Congratulations go to all the prize winners, including colleague, friend and room mate for the week, Sally Law, who was awarded the Bob Hunter Prize for Best Student Talk. I’m looking forward to seeing everyone next year in Manchester for VMSG 2021!

27th Annual IUGG Conference

Last week I headed out to Canada, to my first international conference during my PhD. Over 4000 participants gathered in Montreal for the 27th meeting of the International Union of Geodesy and Geophysics (IUGG). The union itself is formed of 8 individual associations covering everything from deep Earth seismology to atmospheric sciences, so there was a hugely varied programme of talks and posters available over 10 days.



Myself, Hannah, Gina and Ashley at the view point from Mont Royal on our penultimate evening

As such, a good group of Edinburgh PhD students from all fields of geophysics were in Montreal for the week. Hannah, Gina and (recently handed in!) Ashley, all gave great talks in their sessions. My poster presentation on Saturday was also a really good experience. It’s the first time I’ve been involved in such a specific Volcano Seismology and Acoustics session and it was great to hear so many talks from those really advancing the field. I had some interesting discussions about the use of the quality factor (Q) across different applications in seismology and plenty of ideas for wrapping this work up into something publishable. The IAVCEI meeting began with a day reviewing 100 years of volcanology and concluded with the most recent advances in monitoring and modelling. With over 250 IAVCEI delegates in attendance, the Sunday night social was lots of fun – even bumping into some of my supervisors old students!

Presenting in the session Advances in Volcano Seismology
7am roof top yoga organised in the conference schedule

In a first for me, the conference also hosted a yoga session at 7am on the penultimate day. In the 7th floor conference room that opened out onto the roof of the venue, 12 delegates started their morning totally re-energised with the sunshine pouring in. This is definitely something I hope more conferences can include in the schedule.

The city of Montreal was a beautiful place to explore in between talk sessions. As well as trying the local favourite, poutine, the conference venue was based in the middle of Chinatown so we had plenty of good food. The Canadian F1 Grand Prix circuit is also in the city and the track is open to the public throughout the year – so of course I had to go for a run around it!

The Canadian F1 Grand Prix track

It was a brilliant opportunity to present my work at such a large conference. Plenty of interesting discussions were had and I’m looking forward to drawing some conclusions in this most recent piece of work on Tungurahua.

I’d like to thank the IUGG for awarding a Student Grant to cover my registration costs – having one less expense to worry about in the lead up to the conference really made preparation so much easier.

A downloadable copy of my poster from this meeting is available here.




PGR Conference

Surgeons Hall Museums, Edinburgh – 13 and 14 May 2019

The PGR Conference is an internal event hosted each year in the School of GeoSciences. It gives 1st year students a chance to deliver a talk for the first time, and students in the 2nd year of their PhD, like me, are tasked with a research poster. With the School of GeoSciences being so broad, it’s a fine art pitching the content of your research topic to be accessible to everyone – from human geographers, to ecologists to computational geophysicists.

I was presenting some recent work on the quality (Q) factor – one particular quantitative way we might describe an earthquake. It was great to have discussions with people from outside the field, particularly those in climate modelling, who have great experience with time-series analysis and might be able to lend a hand with some of my own questions. I’ll be presenting this work in a specific volcano seismology session at a conference this summer in Canada so it was great to get a test run presenting with fellow researchers in the department.

The invited keynote speaker this year, Anson Mackay, proved that 3 talks is better than 1. In a whistle-stop tour covering his own research in Holocene carbon dynamics, the importance of pre-print opportunities for early career researchers and some the challenges that LGBTQ+ scientists face – it’s fair to say the audience questions were varied.

On the Tuesday evening, the GradSchool hosted a ceilidh to celebrate the end of the conference. After an unprecedented 48hr heatwave, the temperature in Teviot Debating Hall sky rocketed from Gay Gordons all the way through to Strip the Willow.

A huge thanks go to the PGR team for organising another enormously successful conference.


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