The year that was…2013

Team Between a Rock provides some reflection on the past twelve months, and looks forward to to the year ahead.

Elspeth and I had been talking about setting up a blog for quite a while, but since taking the plunge in January, we haven’t looked back. BaR went live in February and since then we’ve had over 20,000 views, joined the EGU Blog Network, and gained three (and counting!) fellow contributors. On a personal level, the most satisfying post to write was The Bristol ‘tsunami’ – flood or fallacy?; I only found out about this historic event via a chance visit to a tiny museum in Porlock and it became a real journey of investigation and discovery.

For me, 2014 will be a year of change and exciting new opportunities. I am handing in my thesis at the end of January but plan to keep contributing to BaR from perspective of a post-PhD job seeker. And hopefully I’ll have a little more time to blog :)

Charly at the Diamond Light Source, a synchrotron near Oxford. Possibly the most ‘sciencey’ thing I’ve done all year! Credit: Charly Stamper

BaR started as a little pet project and throughout the year it’s been amazing to see it go from strength to strength. We had no idea that the blog was going to be so widely read and so thank you to everyone who has given it really positive feedback. We’re not sure how the blog will evolve during 2014, especially as the majority of authors are final year students, but rest assured we have a few awesome posts and projects lined up!

My favourite post of the year to write and research was “There’s an app for that: must have geology apps“. It was a great excuse to download lots of fun apps to play with when commuting to work in the summer. Lots of people suggested other apps to review so there’s a second one in the making. Next year is going to be busy PhD-wise, so I think my entries may be on the shorter side, but there are a few good ones in the pipeline. Charly and I are also working on some non-traditional blog posts too…keep reading the blog to find out what they are.

I joined BaR in August because I really enjoyed reading the others’ contributions to the blog and wanted to be part of it. My favourite post that I’ve written was about my Masters project, using garnet geochemistry to investigate the lithospheric mantle beneath Tanzania. Looking back at this research reminded me of how much I actually like natural rocks, as opposed to experiments! The samples I studied were particularly fresh and pretty (vivid pink garnets), and the amount of information we can extract from mantle xenoliths still amazes me.

My plans for the year ahead mainly involve finishing my PhD in the next few months. Being in the writing-up phase has allowed me to reflect on the varied techniques I have been fortunate to use during my research and I hope to write about some of these, such as the FEG (Field Emission Gun)-SEM and FEG-probe.

I caught the bug for blogging when I started a blog for my field work in 2012; however I knew I would never be able to maintain a solo blog as I’m easily distracted (and a little lazy!). Getting involved with BaR was a great opportunity to express my love of science to a wider community, but also to be part of a collaborative blog covering many different aspects of science and PhD life. My favourite blog to write this year was about the Cascades. There is nothing more inspiring that visiting the place you are writing about and I was excited to share my experience.

Best BaR photo of 2013: KT driving up Mt Hood in a Mustang. Credit: KT Cooper

Next year, I have a few blog posts in the pipeline. One will be about the microbes which live deep within the earth, hopefully including an interview with a researcher at the forefront of this work (fingers crossed!). And another will be a collaborative blog with Elspeth about our experiences as interns. Finally, as my own research goes increasingly down the road of geomicrobiology, I want to share this with the BaR audience.

I joined BaR quite simply to share science with more people in an informal way. My favourite post that I’ve written this year would have to be about my experience on “I’m a Scientist”.

In 2014 I plan to blog about the link volcanoes and food! I’ll also report on how Bristol Earth Sciences celebrated Movember, produce a guide to conferences for newbies, and write about the over-hype associated with the Yellowstone ‘MegaVolcano’.

Movember. Credit: James Hickey

I got involved with the blog because I really enjoyed reading it and I like writing, so thought contributing would be a good way to combine the two! It also means I can have some guilt-free time researching things that aren’t PhD-centric. My favourite entry to write was the Blue John post. Science AND a heart-warming story? Lovely stuff.

The Smithsonian Institution’s Volcanoes of the World database will be available to download in the new year (hopefully!) It’s full of numbers that I can analyse and write about.

Related posts:

About Charly Stamper

I’m an ex-experimental petrologist.
I used to make pretend volcanoes; now I work in renewable energy

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