GeoTalk: Roelof Rietbroek, Early Career Scientist Representative

GeoTalk: Roelof Rietbroek, Early Career Scientist Representative

In addition to the usual GeoTalk interviews, were we highlight the work and achievements of early career researchers, over the next few months we’ll be introducing the Division early career scientist representatives (ECS). They are responsible for ensuring that the voice of EGU ECS membership is heard. From organising short courses during the General Assembly, through to running Division Blogs and attending regular ECS representative meetings, their tasks in this role are varied. Their role is entirely voluntary and they are all active members of their research community, so we’ll also be touching on their scientific work during the interview.

Today we are talking to Roelof Rietbroek, ECS representative for the Geodesy Division.

Before we get stuck in, could you introduce yourself and tell us a little more about yourself and your career?
Looking back, I have to admit that I’m not a geodesist by ‘birth’. I originally studied aerospace engineering at the TU Delft in the Netherlands, not so far from The Hague where I was born. Choosing that field study seemed to be a good idea at the time, although it turned out that I found the Earth to be more challenging to study compared to building aircraft. During my Msc I then found myself studying oceanographic (mass) variability with the use of geodetic satellites (i.e. the GRACE mission), and doing a 3-month internship at the oceanographic institute IFREMER in Brest. After graduating, I moved to Berlin and worked with data from the GRACE mission, satellite radar altimetry and a network of permanent GPS stations at the Helmholtz Centre Potsdam GFZ. Since 2010, I work at the university of Bonn at the institute of astronomical, physical and mathematical geodesy. In 2014, I obtained my PhD, and now have a post-doc position (post-docking?). Currently, observed sea level change is the main focal point of my research.

Although we touch upon it in the introduction of this post: what does your role as ECS representative involve?
I really value the regular skype meetings with the ECS-reps from the other divisions. Although this involves a whole bunch of ECS-reps these meetings are relatively low-effort, and are nevertheless surprisingly effective. It enables me to have my say on ECS-issues. From these meetings we gather recommendations which we then propose to the EGU divisions and board. They are very open to our input, and several recommendations have since then been adopted.

Furthermore, I stay in close contact with the geodesy division (deputy) presidents, and they actively involve me in for example the planning and structuring of sessions. Besides that, they gave me the opportunity to have my say on the geodesy division business meeting during the general assembly. As a final remark, I consider it to be my role to write more blog-posts for the geodesy division, although admittedly there is room for improvement there.

Why did you put yourself forward for the role?
In fact, I wasn’t aware of the possibility to become a geodesy ECS-representative, until it was proposed to me. Considering this, I suspect that there are a lot of other ECS out there which are unaware that they can be involved. Initially, I was somewhat afraid that it would take up a lot of additional time, but itturned out that this is not the case. In hindsight, I’m happy that I took the decision to candidate, and I can recommend it to anyone. Under the new definition of an ECS, I may stay ECS-rep somewhat longer, but would happily make room for a new candidate as well.

What is your vision for the EGU ECS Geodesy community and what do you hope to achieve in the time you hold the position?
I would like to see a small team of motivated ECS’s who want to organize some events, and want to increase the visibility of the geodesy division. You can get inspired by looking at the activities of the hydrology division. I think they set a really nice example on what is possible.

What can your ECS Division members expect from the Geodesy Division in the 2016 General Assembly?
Besides our sessions? I’m involved in organizing a short course on presentation feedback again. ECS who want to improve their presentation skills can sign up for a rehearsal where they can take home some tips and tricks.

Maybe we can reverse the question as well? What do I expect from the ECS division members in the 2016 General assembly? That they come and approach me, and express their interests in becoming involved in ECS activities.

How can those wanting to, get involved with the EGU?
It is quite simple really, If you don’t let yourself be heard we don’t know that you’re there. So use your voice, phone, PC: speak to, phone, email and tweet your division presidents and ECS-reps.

Job opportunity at the EGU General Assembly: press assistant

Job opportunity at the EGU General Assembly: press assistant

We have a vacancy for an early career science communicator or science journalism student in Europe to work at the press office of the 2016 General Assembly, which is taking place in Vienna, Austria, from 17–22 April. Applications from geosciences students with science communication experience are also welcome. We are particularly interested in receiving applications from people with experience in photo and video reporting.

The student will join the team assisting the EGU press officer and the journalists at the press centre, and is expected to help run press conferences. Other possible tasks include reporting on the events at the Assembly through photographs and video, writing blog posts, and distributing EGU Today, the daily newsletter at the General Assembly.

This is a paid opportunity for an early career science communicator to gain experience in the workings of a press office at a major scientific conference, and to interact with journalists, freelance science writers and public information officers. Like the other media assistants at the conference, the successful candidate will receive €600 for the week and will be given support towards travel expenses.

The position is open to University students (final-year undergraduates or postgraduates) or recent graduates in science communication/journalism or to students in the Earth, planetary and space sciences with experience in science outreach. Applicants must have an expert command of English and good computer and internet skills.

Applications must include

  • Cover letter and CV (one page each) summarising relevant experience
  • Two samples of recent science communication work such as photo features, videos or written articles (published or unpublished, aimed at a general audience)

Application documents (in English) should be submitted by email in a single file to Bárbara Ferreira, the EGU Media and Communications Manager ( Bárbara can also be contacted for informal enquiries. Please note that people who are presenting an abstract at the General Assembly are not eligible to apply.

The deadline for applications is 7 February 2016.

The European Geosciences Union (EGU, is Europe’s premier geosciences organisation, dedicated to the pursuit of excellence in the Earth, planetary, and space sciences for the benefit of humanity, worldwide. The EGU organises a General Assembly that attracts over 11,000 scientists each year, as well as reporters interested in hearing about the latest research in topics that range from volcanology and earthquakes to climate science, and from solar physics to planetary science.

Looking back at the EGU Blogs in 2015: welcoming new additions

Looking back at the EGU Blogs in 2015: welcoming new additions

It’s a little over 12 months since we launched the new look EGU blogs and with the holidays and new year approaching, what better time to take stock of 2015 as featured in the EGU Blogs? The past year has been full of exciting, insightful and informative blog posts. At the same time, we’ve welcomed new additions to the network and division blogs.

The network blogs

A recent highlight of the year has to be the addition of a new blog to the network: please welcome our new blogger Professor David Pyle, author of VolcanicDegassing – a blog about volcanoes and volcanic activity. In 2016 you can look forward to posts about David’s ongoing research in Latin America, the Caribbean, Ethiopia and Europe, as well as historical and contemporary descriptions or other representations of volcanic activity across the globe.

Vesuvius in eruption, April 26, 1872. Original caption ‘from a photograph taken in the neighbourhood of Naples”. (Palmieri and Mallet, 1873). Published in the Decemeber 15th post:  'The first volcanic eruption to be photographed?'

Vesuvius in eruption, April 26, 1872. Original caption ‘from a photograph taken in the neighbourhood of Naples”. (Palmieri and Mallet, 1873). Published in the Decemeber 15th post: ‘The first volcanic eruption to be photographed?

Richly illustrated and referenced posts have featured across the network throughout the year, with topics ranging from the journey aerosol particles go on throughout their life time, through to the role peculiarities of geology and geomorphology play in deciding on big international governance.

The most popular post written in 2015 was brought to you by Jon Tennant and featured the ichthyosaurs, an unusual turtle-fish-dolphin like marine reptile which cruised the seas 250 million years ago. The post focuses on the discovery of an ichthyosaur fossil named David, or rather Cartorhynchus lenticarpu as it is formally known, and how the remarkable specimen sheds light on the origins of these unusual creatures.

Matt Herod’s post on Geosphere in early December 2014 featuring the story behind the legal battle of Italian geochemists who were sued after publishing results stating that they could not find above background levels of depleted uranium in former Italian military firing ranges, is the second most read post across the network in the past year. With a strong resemblance to the L’Aquila verdict against the Italian seismologists, which was resolved in 2014, Matt highlights there are lessons to be learnt from both cases in the post.

Natural hazards and the April 2015 Nepal earthquakes featured heavily across the network too. In the immediate aftermath of the earthquake, the Geology for Global Development blog compiled a comprehensive list of links and resources which readers could consult to find out up to date and reliable information about the events in Nepal. A list which is still a useful resource some 8 months after the tragedy and which is the third most popular post on the network this year. Simon Redfern, of Atom’s Eye View of the Planet, wrote a piece on how and why scientists have identified Kathmandu valley as one of the most dangerous places in the world, in terms of earthquake risk.

With many of the network bloggers being in the thick of PhD research or having recently submitted their thesis, tips and hints for a successful PhD completion also proved a focus of the content across the network. Despite being originally written in April 2013, Jon Tennant’s blog post on why and how masters students should publish their research was the most popular post of the year! The most read post from Geology Jenga advertised a new, and free, online course on how to survive the PhD journey.

The division blogs

Since their launch last December, the division blogs have gone from strength to strength. Keeping you updated with news and information relevant to each division, they have also featured accounts of field and laboratory work, as well as professional development opportunities and open vacancies.

Throughout the year the division blogs have been enhanced through the addition of the Atmospheric Sciences, Energy Resources and Environment blogs and, most recently, the Biogeosciences Division blog too.

Cross-section of the age of the Greenland Ice Sheet from radar data. Credit: NASA's Scientific Visualization Studio and MacGregor et al., 2015.

Cross-section of the age of the Greenland Ice Sheet from radar data. Credit: NASA’s Scientific Visualization Studio and MacGregor et al., 2015.

The most popular post of the year was shared by the Seismology Division and touched upon the controversial topic of whether cloud formations can be used to predict earthquakes, while the Cryosphere Division blog’s image of the week of late October featuring a cross section of the Greenland Ice Sheet was the second most popular post. Round-up posts about the 2015 General Assembly, tips for convening sessions at the conference, as shared by Geodesy Division, and some soul searching by the Geomorphology Division as to why a proposed session wasn’t included in the final conference programme also proved very popular.

Get involved

Are you a budding science writer, or want to try your hand at science communication? All the EGU Blogs, from GeoLog (the official EGU blog), through to the network and division blogs, welcome guest contributions from scientists, students and professionals in the Earth, planetary and space sciences.

It couldn’t be easier to get involved. Decide what you’d like to write about, find the blog that is the best fit for your post and contact the blog editor – you can find all editor details on the individual blog pages. If in doubt, you can submit your idea for a post via the Submit a Post page on GeoLog, or email the EGU Communications Officer, Laura Roberts, who can help with initial enquiries and introduce you to individual blog editors.

Don’t forget to a look at the blog pages for a flavour of the content you can expect from the new, and existing, blogs in 2016. The blogs are also a great place to learn about new opportunities, exciting fields of research and keep up to date with news relating to the upcoming 2016 General Assembly.


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