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School of Geography

Thomas Kelly

Thomas Kelly

PhD project title: The environmental history of abandoned river channels and peatlands in the Peruvian Amazon
 NERC Studentship

Applying to do a PhD is not a decision that should be undertaken lightly; it is a serious commitment! That said, I have never once regretted choosing to do a PhD here at Leeds, and I think that this is the case for a number of reasons. Firstly, the department has an unusually large contingent of postgraduate researchers, which makes it a pleasure to come into the office each day, and also makes for a good social life. Secondly, I have good supervisors who are prepared to put aside time to help me out whenever I need it. Thirdly, Leeds is a good place to live and there’s lots going on here both inside and outside of the University.

Of course, the other reason that I enjoy my PhD is that I have a research topic that is fully aligned with my main interests: geology and ecology. I have always had a passion for geology and the earth sciences since I was a boy collecting rocks on the Yorkshire coast, and wherever else I happened to find them! During my undergraduate degree, my focus was on the geological side, and I for my dissertation I mapped the geology on an island off the west coast of Italy. But as time went on I became increasingly interested in more recent earth history and the lessons this can provide about the functioning of the earth’s climate and ecosystems. At the end of my BSc felt I needed further training in skills related to Quaternary Science (the study of the recent geological record), and I studied for an MSc with the intention of using it as a bridge which would take me from my BSc into a PhD with most of the skills that I would need.

Looking to the future, I still have a fair bit of my PhD left to do before I have to think about what I am going to do next. If I can, I would like to get a Postdoctoral position and continue to work in this area of research. For me, choosing to do a PhD was a commitment to pursuing an academic career, although this is not always the case. But even if I don’t end up in academia, I will always be glad that I chose to do a PhD, and chose Leeds as the place to do it.