Laura Roberts Artal
Very sad to be out of the competition, but have had a great time! Thanks to all who voted for me :)!
The British School of Barcelona (1999-2003), University of Liverpool (2003-2007).
MSci Geology (Hons)
I worked an Environmental Consultanfor three years after I graduated in the contaminated land sector. During Univeristy I was a bar maid. Whilst at school I ran a tutoring group.
University of Liverpool
Favourite thing to do in my job: Spending time in the field learning about rocks and the thrill of working on something that no one else has done!
I study some of the very oldest rocks in the world!
Through my research I am hoping to learn what the Earth was like shortly after it formed.
I’m particularly interested in whether it had a magnetic field. Earth is an amazing place because the conditions were right for life to start forming at about 3 billion years ago. We aren’t sure why life doesn’t exist on other planets, but we think that one of the reasons life is found on Earth is because we have a magnetic field (as well as water, carbon and oxygen). We don’t know now how old the magnetic field is and I am trying to find out. I collected some of the oldest rocks in the world which, if asked nicely, (through hours of experiments) might be able to give us information about the very ancient magnetic field.
My Typical Day
There is no such thing! I might be in the lab, out in the field or teaching!
Most of my time is spent at the Geomagnetism Laboratory at the University of Liverpool, but I also spend a fair amount of time at a lab in Holland. When in the lab, chances are you’ll find me in our rock preparation room, where I cut rocks to size for hours on end. Otherwise, I’ll be in one of our shielding cages working on experiments. A normal experiment will take me between one and two weeks and I work on little else in that time. During term time I usually help out in practicals about volcanoes, fossils and earthquakes teaching to undergraduates once or twice a week.
I’m also lucky to spend some time out in the field, either collecting rocks for my research or helping to teach undergraduates how geology is done.
I am also encouraged to go to conferences two or 3 times a year, where scientist share their latest discoveries. They are so much fun! You get to hear about groundbreaking science and network with leading experts.
What I'd do with the prize money
Split it between two projects: 1) Raising awarness of natural hazards in developing regions 2) Developing of an outreach activity in contaminated land in the UK
Millions of children all over the world live and go to school in areas prone to natural hazards such as volcanoes, earthquakes and landslides. In developed countries, the U.S.A for example, children often get training on what to do in the event of one of these disasters striking, as do their teachers. Unfortunately, this kind of education is costly and so children and teachers in poorer countries often do not have the resources to access it. If I was lucky enough to win the Earth Zone, I’d donate some of the money to a project working in a school in a developing country that would educate children about the risk of natural hazards and what to do if one strikes.
Did you know geologist play a major role in everyday life in the UK? Did you know that construction of most buildings can’t go ahead without the involvement of a geologist? Geology isn’t only about volcanoes, earthquakes and dinosaurs, many geologist go on to have jobs that are heavily involved in the building industry or cleaning up contaminated land (petrol stations, large factories etc..). If I won the I’m a Scientist prize money, I’d use some of it to develop a board game (a little bit like Cluedo) that I could take to schools (or schools could visit us here at the University) to give school children the chance to be an environmental or engineer geologist for the day!
How would you describe yourself in 3 words?
Diligent, Inquisitive, Bubbly
What's the best thing you've done in your career?
Engaged other people with science.
What or who inspired you to follow your career?
Pierce Brosnan as Harry Dalton in Dantes Peak!
Were you ever in trouble at school?
No, not really. One thing my teachers complained about was me drifting off into day dreams whilst they spoke.
If you weren't doing this job, what would you choose instead?
I’d like to be involved with science communication and outreach. Failling that, I’d run my own farm shop, it would sell great cakes.
Who is your favourite singer or band?
It varies on my mood, but I couldn’t pick between: Muse, Ben Howard and Snow Patrol.
What's your favourite food?
What is the most fun thing you've done?
A two week holiday exploring the volcanoes of Hawaii and playing with lions in South Africa.
If you had 3 wishes for yourself what would they be? - be honest!
Have a job I enjoy,travel the world seeing lots of amazing places and cultures and bring something to those around me.
Tell us a joke.
How can you tell the ocean is friendly? It waves!