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

Achievements recognised in the prestigious SET Awards

Published: 3 October 2012

Joe Emmings, a Geology graduate from the department of Ocean and Earth Science, was a finalist in the 2012 SET Awards, which recognise outstanding students in science, engineering and technology. The best undergraduates in 14 subject areas received their prizes in front of an audience of leading academics and industrialists at a ceremony at Kensington Town Hall. More than 500 entries were received from 100 universities.

Throughout his four year Master of Science (MSci) degree in Geology, Joe consistently achieved first class marks. His final year independent research project investigated how effectively organic carbon was buried in deep sea sediments from offshore northwest Africa.  Joe studied turbidites, sediments deposited as a type of underwater avalanche, and determined where and what types of organic carbon were found in individual horizons, and what factors might control the carbon burial process.

"Joe's results were very significant, as they have provided us with our first detailed understanding of organic carbon burial and its breakdown into carbon dioxide in this type of deep sea sediment.  We can thus start to determine whether such sediments act as sinks or sources of carbon dioxide and assess the significance of these sediment systems as factors to incorporate into global climate prediction models for the first time - an important consideration in a warming world," says his supervisor, Senior Lecturer in Palaeontology, Dr Ian Harding. "The scientific results Joe produced may prove to be of great significance to the academic community, and have already led us to extend his work in new directions.  Joe achieved an outstanding mark for his research project, and proved himself an exceptional student, proudly continuing our tradition of producing academically gifted but also practical graduate MSci students, sought so keenly by employers in recent years."

Joe Emmings at the 2012 SET Awards

Joe says he was pleased and delighted to reach the final of the SET Awards and was accompanied to the ceremony by his very proud mother Vicky to the ceremony as his guest. "It was a wonderful opportunity to network with senior people in science and engineering; I met both the Vice-President of the Geological Society of London and Rio Tinto's head of mineral exploration in Europe," he says.

Joe has just started work with Fugro GeoConsulting analysing submarine geohazards around offshore structures. During his studies, he gained work experience in summer vacations at the British Antarctic Survey in Cambridge. Joe joined research teams in generating important results about the past climate of the globally-important Antarctic region.

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