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School of Geography

Bruno Ladvocat

Project title: Spatial-temporal reconstruction of Amazon flood pulse and dry season length over the past century using tree rings and isotopes of floodplain tree species Macrolobium acaciifolium

Supervisors: Dr Roel Brienen & Professor Emanuel Gloor (School of Geography University of Leeds), Jochen Schongart (National Institute for Amazon Research) and Arnoud Boom (University of Leicester)

Why did you decide to study for a PhD, and why Leeds?

I had been doing ecological research in the Amazon for a few years before I came to Leeds but felt I should know how it is to do research from the more professional perspective of having a research career. So a PhD for me is a way to both continue doing research, and to get as close as possible to how professional life as a researcher can be. I met my supervisor in a workshop and as I already knew that Leeds had a very good reputation on tropical ecology research, I thought it would be a great place to have this experience, at the same time as being supervised by people whose work I knew and considered very important for tropical research, and to also study abroad.

What is your experience of PhD study in the School and what skills have you learned?

The cluster I am part of, Ecology and Global change, has weekly seminars of varied subjects, which I find quite nice. The research group I am in also has weekly meetings, so I am always discussing papers and practical issues with my supervisors, other students and researchers. I work in an office with other PhDs from different countries, who work on different subjects, and I also work in the labs. In particular, I am most enjoying the experience I am having with the research group, and the opportunity to work in the School’s labs, with a very supportive technical staff. However, in a PhD you end up learning much more than just what is necessary for your subject, like knowing how to work in an independent way and as part of a group, dealing with constant deadlines and having to make important decisions, and managing your own time and priorities, all of which are very good skills to have at any work environment you are in.

What are your career aspirations?

I really enjoy doing research, being part of a research group and teaching. So I hope in the future I will either be part of the research and teaching staff of a good university or use all the skills I am learning to work at an environmental agency, developing and applying environmental projects and regulations, and hopefully teaching as well, which I find to be an important part of the academic process.

More generally, what would you say to someone else who may be considering studying a PhD in the School of Geography?

I know that choosing a place to do a PhD is a big step and I strongly recommend Leeds! Just go through the School’s web site to find out as much as possible about the research clusters and try to contact potential supervisors that most match your research interests. Working in the Department is very nice and living the academic life in Leeds is great!