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School of Geography

Gemma Dooling

Gemma Dooling
Gemma conducting fieldwork

Managing Peatlands as Carbon Stores

Supervisors: Prof Andy Baird, Dr Pippa Chapman
Funding:
 NERC CASE studentship (CASE partner: Natural England)

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

I’ve always enjoyed learning, and so research was the best way to continue learning.  At the time I wasn’t sure on the career path I wanted to take, but knew that having a PhD could give me lots of options.  In terms of the subject of my PhD, I chose a topic that followed on from modules in my Masters degree so that I could build on an existing knowledge base on a topic that had captured my attention.  I had studied for my Masters degree in the School of Geography at Leeds, so when I made the decision to apply for a PhD, it was the first place I looked.

What was your experience of PhD study in the School and the skills you learnt?

The PhD community in the School of Geography is quite large, and PhD students are welcomed and encouraged to participate in research cluster meetings with the academic staff. I’ve also been lucky enough to gain some teaching experience through demonstrating on some undergraduate modules and fieldtrips.  Within the University there are lots of courses on offer on a wide range of subjects from time management to improving your skills on various computer software packages.  The university itself has lots of facilities with a big Union building full of different shops and bars and also a big sports complex, which is great when you’ve had a hard day and need to let out your frustrations.

What is your current employment situation and longer term career aspirations?

I now work within the School of Geography as a Postdoctoral Research Fellow in Peatland Science.  I was lucky enough to start the position only two weeks after submitting my thesis.  Although the subject of my job is very similar to my PhD, it has been challenging learning to adapt to working on more than one project at the same time. 

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

Make sure that you genuinely enjoy the research subject of the PhD you want to do.  There will almost certainly be some tough times, but they’re much easier to get through if you love what you do.