Scientific Discipline/Field: Ecology/Biogeochemistry
Pick some letters (L,G,B,T,Q etc.): G
What does your job involve?
I’m a 2nd year PhD student at the University of Sheffield looking into the role of vegetation in methane fluxes across Arctic tundra in Alaska. The ultimate goal of my PhD is understanding the role vegetation plays in influencing methane emissions and using a combination of hyperspectral data and multispectral imagery to upscale methane emissions from the plot scale to the landscape scale.
How did you get to this job (education etc.)?
After mistakenly thinking I could be a journalist and doing a year of English/Politics at university, I completed MA (Hons) Geography at the University of Dundee and an MSc Polar and Alpine Change at the University of Sheffield. This career pathway has included field work on debris covered glaciers in the Italian Alps, working in the Scottish uplands and across Svalbard. I rather enjoy fieldwork in far off places – although I am a little accident prone…
Do you feel being LGBT has affected your career decisions?
No, I don’t think being part of the LGBT community has affected my career decisions. I’m very fortunate to have an extremely supportive family and friend network, so although the thought of coming out was an extremely stressful process internally, the reality of it all meant it was pretty smooth.
Have you had any reactions from colleagues about being LGBT, either good or bad?
In the postgraduate stages of my career, I have always been open about who I am. My colleagues are completely accepting of my sexuality. I do get questions or queries from a few (all with good intentions) and I’m often asked for my opinion on sexuality matters that arise in the media etc. but over all I’ve had no bad experiences from colleagues.
Due to undertaking a lot of fieldwork, you do meet people from around the world and I have occasionally had to deal with comments that are less than polite but at 25 years old, I have finally started to use the mantra ‘water off a ducks back’ and not take things too much too heart. It took me 7 or so years to get used to it, so I don’t mind others taking a little longer – as long as the comments are not homophobic and/or offensive.
Did you have any role models growing up (LGBT, STEM, totally unrelated…)?
Role models… yes, but they weren’t necessarily LGBT. I was completely motivated by the work of Gavin Maxwell and Sir Peter Scott when I was wee and their passion for the natural world was an incredible inspiration for me. During my school years, I was told a career in biology wasn’t for me so I put it on the back burner. I’m glad I found by way back to what I love.
What are your plans for the future?
Finish the PhD and potentially continue on in academia. I get a real kick out of research but I also really enjoy the teaching side of things. I do have a favourite saying which is ‘It is no will-o-the-wisp I have followed here’ – I like to just take my own path and see what happens.
Anything else you’d like to add?
You can follow me on Twitter – @scootjd