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The University of Southampton
Ocean and Earth Science, National Oceanography Centre Southampton

Catriona Menzies PhD Geochemistry

Interviewed as a third year research student

Catriona Menzies's Photo

Hi, I'm Catriona Menzies and I studied PhD Geochemistry within Ocean and Earth Science, National Oceanography Centre Southampton at the University of Southampton.

Demonstrating to undergraduates has personally been very rewarding. It is an important part of the PhD experience in helping to improve your teaching technique as well as keeping up to date with material you may not have covered since your own undergraduate days.

I decided to continue my studies to PhD level after particularly enjoying my research project during my undergraduate degree. The Graduate School of Ocean and Earth Science initially impressed me with their large number of projects on offer, several of which caught my interest. After successfully interviewing and deciding on a project I was set to devote the next three and a half years to studying geochemistry of the Alpine Fault zone in New Zealand. This has included two trips to New Zealand, involving stimulating fieldwork, exciting helicopter trips and great opportunities to make connections overseas, especially since I received Natural Environment Research Council CASE funding linking my work with GNS Science, where I worked while in New Zealand.

Southampton’s geochemistry labs are very well equipped meaning most analyses can be carried out in the department, allowing hands on experience and a good understanding of techniques, with experts on hand with advice when required. The Geochemistry Research Group has weekly meetings with informal discussion between postgraduates and staff, where topics of discussion vary from general lab queries to practicing presentations for conferences.

Postgraduate study is very different from undergraduate study. You have much more freedom and can devote your time to working towards answering real questions in science, which I find particularly rewarding. Although the Graduate School is large, the weekly coffee breaks, informal seminars and various social events run by the postgraduates mean there is a good sense of community. There are plenty opportunities for interaction with undergraduate students too. I have demonstrated for many geology modules at various levels including demonstrating on a third year structural geology field trip to Anglesey. Demonstrating can be very rewarding and I would say it is an important part of the PhD experience in helping to improve your teaching technique as well as keeping up to date with material you may not have covered since your own undergraduate days.

Having never lived in a city before, I was apprehensive about moving to Southampton. However, its numerous large parks and proximity to the New Forest mean it’s easy to find your way somewhere green to relax.

After completing my PhD I hope to continue working in research as I have found it stimulating and my studies so far have generated many more questions I would like to answer.

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