Earth Science Week 2019 – Meet our Hydro Team!

It’s ‘Earth Science Week’! With this year’s theme being “Earth Science is for Everyone” our Hydro Team look at three famous Earth Scientists, before sharing how they each got into earth science.

Mary Anning (May 1799 – March 1847) was from Dorset, England. Her first forays into earth science were as a child, when she assisted her father in collecting fossils from the seaside cliffs close to their home. In later life Anning is credited with the discovery of several dinosaur specimens that assisted in the early development of palaeontology. Anning was self-taught in geology, anatomy, palaeontology and scientific illustration, and despite facing difficulty due to her gender, earned herself a reputation which would eventually lead to her being recognised by the Royal Society in 2010 as one of the 10 most influential women scientists in British History.

Marie Tharp (July 1920 – August 2006) was an American geologist. She first experienced earth sciences as a child, introduced to map making by her father, a soil surveyor for the United States Department of Agriculture. Her studies led her away from earth sciences, however World War II meant more women being recruited into professions like petroleum geology, and Tharp completed her Master’s degree in this subject. Tharp’s most famous work is probably the identification of a continuous rift valley along the axis of the Mid-Atlantic Ridge, which supported the then controversial continental drift theory.

David A. Johnston (December 1949 – May 1980) had originally planned to study journalism, however a poor grade, and an interesting Introduction to Geology class caused him to change his major. His first geologic project involved investigating the remains of an ancient volcano, which planted the seed of Johnston’s passion for volcanoes. Johnston was the first geologist on Mount St. Helens following the first earthquakes on March 16 1980, and became the head of volcanic gas monitoring. He strongly believed that scientists should take these risks in order to prevent civilian deaths, and kept the death toll at a few tens of individuals, rather than the thousands who may have been killed has the region not been sealed off. Johnston was the first to report the eruption, however sadly died protecting the public.

The Wardell Armstrong Hydro Team

Lauren Ballarini | Technical Director & Service Lead for Hydrogeology and Hydrology
I decided I wanted to be a Geophysicist at the age of 11 after doing a careers quiz at school. From then on my school career was directed to doing geophysics at university, unfortunately when I got to the end of my degree in Geology and Geophysics I decided what I didn’t want to be a Geophysicist! During the course of my degree I had studied Hydrogeology and enjoyed it, but not wanting to repeat the mistake of the past 7 years, I went and worked at a consultancy for 6 months to see if I enjoyed the type of work a Hydrogeologist would do. I loved it! The MSc course at Birmingham University was the next step and as they say…the rest is history!

Craig Speed | Associate Director
I got into earth science initially from a love of natural sciences and chemistry at school, and an interest outside school in geology from being given a book called Hong Kong Rocks and a rock hammer. Later on, I had a chance meeting with a member of the geology department at Edinburgh University about a new course starting called Environmental Geoscience which gave me an introduction to environmental geochemistry, oceanography and hydrogeology, and it went on from there.

Phil Burris | Associate Director
I did an A level in geology in the 1980’s in Cornwall, mining and geology being ingrained in local traditions and schooling. I did a degree at Leeds and was fortunate enough to be tutored by Mike Leeder who’s recent book GeoBritannica explores the theme of culture and Earth Sciences. I started a job as a hydrogeologist and subsequently did my Masters in Sydney. Hydrogeology appealed to me as it combined the disciplines of geology, geochemistry, physics with something that seemed laudable to me: water resources assessment.

Anna Saich | Principal Geoscientist
Growing up at the foot of the North Downs I have always enjoyed the Chalk downland landscape, as well as the iconic Chalk cliffs along the south coast. Inspired by how the landscape was influenced by the underlying rocks I went on to study environmental science and geoscience. I learnt about the millions of micro-organisms that make up the Chalk, the flint and marl bands that can be traced across Europe and how the Chalk is an important aquifer providing a source of drinking water for London and the southeast of England.

Thea McCready | Senior Hydrogeologist
My interest in geology began before I knew ‘geology’ was a thing. Growing up I collected rocks, played with dinosaur figures and loved watching ‘the land before time’. It wasn’t until aged 15/16 when choosing which A-levels to study did I realise I could combine what I love: science, the outdoors and rocks; into a career.

Rachel Graham | Senior Environmental Scientist
Growing up my dad was a Geography teacher therefore from a very earlier age I have been exposed to the natural world and this has created a lifelong love and fasciation of geomorphic processes. Since undertaking my BSc in Geography and MSc in Environmental Consultancy, I have been working at Wardell Armstrong within the Water Team where I have been involved with exciting, and at some times challenging, projects across the UK.

Joe Skuse | Hydrogeologist
Growing up in Cornwall, the legacy of tin and copper mining, along with the current china clay excavation and reinstatement, has always interested me greatly. As a result of this interest I decided to study an undergraduate degree in Environmental Geoscience at the University of Birmingham. As part of my degree we looked at various groundwater related issues including; acid mine drainage, water scarcity and the water cycle. The importance of water as a resource and the complexity of the issues related to groundwater encouraged me to further my understanding by undertaking an MSc in Hydrogeology from the University of Birmingham. Infrastructure, energy, mining and construction projects are essential to modern life and this is what spurred me to join Wardell Armstrong.

Bethan Joule | Graduate Environmental Scientist
When I was younger I was always interested in the natural environment, requesting subscriptions to National Geographic for birthdays, and looking forward to geography fieldtrips where I could spend time outdoors and understand the things that were discussed within the classroom. As a result, I went on to study Geography, and subsequently Environmental Engineering at university, before beginning my career within the Hydro Team at Wardell Armstrong.

For more information on our hydrogeology and hydrology services and projects, please click here.

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