09 July 2014

Open day

If you work on a short contract, you often get out of helping out on university open days. It makes sense; the students you might recruit will probably only enroll after you've already left. You don't gain anything from doing a good job, other than the satisfaction of doing a good job. And you can use your time better; you might advance your career so you manage to land another short contract! I suppose it's fair to give those with a permanent job more of a burden when it comes to institute propaganda. And the PhD students; they get paid extra for doing this, while a postdoc like me doesn't. But this time I didn't escape anyway. It seemed the powers that be had decided to have some many open days that the permanent people and PhD students were spread thin! And I am keen to make a good impression on my current employer with whom I'm very happy. So on my normally free Saturday I directed myself to the School anyway. Luckily I wouldn't have to say to much about the inner workings of the university; I've only worked here for three months! But I can talk about palaeoceanography for England. Or Wales, rather.

And it went rather well; I had a set-up of a core from the European continental slope, and some sieved samples with foraminifera and IRD, and some microslides with the same. I just told them that at the School of Ocean Science, you can learn to read an archive like this core. Sieve out the forams, find out what species you have in there, and how they change; all species have their own environmental preferences. Do you see warm water species change into cold water species? Do you see species coming in that like seasonal ice cover? Do you find residues of sea ice algae in there? You see an ice age coming! And if you have bits of rock brought in by icebergs; can you see what lithology it is? Is it something that only occurs in one place? If so, you can see where the ice came from! Do you see a change from Canadian rocks being brought in to Icelandic rocks? You may see a change in coean currents! And so forth. So much information in a bit of mud. I hope I fascinated some of them. We'll see in September what the numbers are!

My set-up in the lab; a sediment core, a poster, and a microscope with mounted digital camera and a screen to show some samples

Prospective students tend to be too shy to look down a microscope, so we showed what they would see on a screen

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