I can use my knowledge obtained in Sheffield to collaborate on interdisciplinary research topics

Amy Macfarlane
Amy Macfarlane
Recent PHD recipient now working with oceanographers and atmospheric scientists
MSc Polar and Alpine Change alumni
PAC alumni Amy Macfarlane discusses her time as a student at Sheffield and her career since graduating.

What has your career path been since leaving Sheffield?

I spent 1 year working in software development in London then an internship at the Snow and avalanche research in Switzerland which led to a PhD studying snow on sea ice. I have just graduated from ETH-Zurich with a PhD titled “Influences of snow microstructure on the Arctic sea ice energy budget”.

My PhD had 5 phases of work:

  1. Expedition preparation (packing, testing and calibrating all the equipment needed for a year-long expedition to the high-Arctic)
  2. Data collection (8 months onboard an ice breaker in the Arctic)
  3. Data tidying and publishing (I worked on the snow datasets where we measured microstructural changes of the snow for one complete year)
  4. Data analysis (I analysed changes in the microstructure and related this to heat transfer and optical properties of the snow)
  5. Publications (x3 publications and a data paper required a lot of writing and reviewing)

What are the most rewarding aspects of your job/PHD?

I enjoy the practical side in combination with working on a computer, publications are extremely rewarding but I also get equal enjoyment out of a successful day in the field or creating a beautiful graph!

What did you enjoy most during your time in the School of Geography and Planning?

The freedom to work on a research topic and develop my data analytical skills. I enjoyed the field work and attending a course at UNIS as part of the PAC course.

Were there any particular modules, lecturers or researchers who really inspired you?

I enjoyed working alongside Grant Bigg, who was my master thesis supervisor. I also found working with Felix extremely inspiring.

Which skills did you develop at Sheffield that you used in your PHD?

Many skills from my research masters (MRes) translate to my PhD. In particular the writing and data analysis component of research.

What aspects of your experience in undertaking the PAC Research Project have helped in your PHD/current job?

Time management and working independently have been critical components of my PhD and I developed a lot of these skills during PAC course. I also learnt a lot about ocean and atmosphere mixing during PAC and I used this knowledge to place my snow research into a larger context. I now work with oceanographers and atmospheric scientists and I can use my knowledge obtained in Sheffield to collaborate on interdisciplinary research topics.

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