This blog post is part of our series: “A day in the life of a geomorphologist” for which we’re accepting contributions! Please contact one of the GM blog editors, Emily or Emma, if you’d like to contribute on this topic, or others.
post by John Hillier, Reader in Natural Hazard Risks, Loughborough University (UK)
I am sitting at my kitchen table, at home. Children’s pictures of birds, dragons and lots of rainbows are on the wall behind me. In front of me, outside the window, I watch birds feeding – just common garden UK birds (sparrows, starlings, goldfinches ….), but they are soothing. OK, the bird feeder is above the decking that has gone rotten in places and I’m halfway through repairing, but still soothing. It’s Friday. I work Monday to Thursday, part-time. What on Earth has this to do with geomorphology? This is explained by my job title ‘Reader in Natural Hazard Risk’ (Reader is roughly equivalent to Associate Professor). Glacial geomorphology is my hobby now, not where the funding and circumstance have taken me.
So, my day in the life of a geomorphologist is 1-2 hours, on a Friday, actually doing a little analysis and occasionally staring at the birds, slotted amongst the details of life – details such as picking the children up from school and feeding them. This may seem a little absurd, but I find it relaxing as long as I stick absolutely to my rule of no e-mail across the weekend.
Why do I do it? This is a question about academia in general I guess, and I know from conversations with colleagues that lots of us question why we bother with university-based life, its long hours and continual pressure from too many directions. The core of the answer is that for me, it’s a delight to discover something new, even about the most apparently parochial subject, such as drumlins, and I do really enjoy doing research if the pressure – which builds during a career – is absent. I must remember this, and handle the feelings of inadequacy and over-stretch that ever threaten to invade. I also look forward to the British Branch Meeting of the International Glaciological society (IGSBB) in September, a small and enjoyable meeting. Providing a reason to attend this gives me an immediate incentive to keep going on this analysis.
In a little while, I will go for a run, promise myself I will do an hour of fixing the decking before school pick-up, and look forward to IGSBB in September.
Did you enjoy this blog post? This blog post is part of our series: “A day in the life of a geomorphologist” for which we’re accepting contributions! Please contact one of the GM blog editors, Emily or Emma, if you’d like to contribute.