‘Covid had a big influence on my choice after graduation’

Avery Fenton: ‘I want to look at the past not just to understand the present, but to help understand what the future may look like’

Avery Fenton: My degree has opened the door for me to find new loves in science'

I studied earth and ocean sciences for my undergraduate degree, and it opened up opportunities for a career in industry and academia.

As a young kid all I wanted was to be a paleontologist, but as I got older and learned what was going on in the world, particularly related to climate change I knew I wanted to help be part of the solution to that.

Covid had a big influence on my choice after graduation. Having finished my degree in level five lockdown, I really wanted to get out of the house and eventually got a job in industry that involved field work five days a week.

My degree has opened the door for me to find new loves in science and the experience to be chosen for those opportunities. I’ve been able to keep an eye out for anything that comes my way because I got to explore a wider range of sciences.

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Right now I am a research assistant on the BlueC project, which focuses on coastal and intertidal environments. I love the balance of being in research, there’s a great mix of field, lab, and desk work in this particular project. I also get to work with people at all stages of their careers and all doing slightly different things, so I can always find great advice and insight from the people around me.

The part that I don’t like is that my part of BlueC is only a two-year project. I could continue the research on this for what feels like forever and still be learning new things and not feel like it’s done.

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Because there is such a variety of work opportunities that come from a degree in earth and ocean science, there is so much a graduate of the programme can do to make an impact on the world using what they learn through the degree. Environmental research, ground-truthing data to improve climate models, and so much more to help further our understanding of the natural world of the past and present.

Working in natural sciences can sometimes seem kind of bleak given the state of the world, but this degree offers hope in the form of action.

I see myself combining my two main loves, palaeontology and climate science, and doing palaeoclimatology. I want to look at the past not just to understand the present, but to help understand what the future may look like. I have found my place within academia and love that at any turn I can go down a rabbit hole of whatever I find interesting, and that the skills I am learning are transferable.

In conversation with Peter McGuire

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