Taking the plunge into an oceanography career

matthew thomasMatthew Thomas is a post-doctoral research position based at the French Institute for the Exploitation of the Sea (Ifremer) in Brittany. Here he tells us about why he chose to embark on research career in Oceanography after a BSc in Physics (University of Leeds), MSc (University of Southampton) and PhD in Oceanography (University of East Anglia).

Why Oceanography?

Beyond simply being excited to work in a field that is both fascinating and globally relevant, I was drawn to the fact that it is a young and relatively unexplored field. By the end of my physics degree I felt that I had been trying to learn and demonstrate practically things that had been known to the community for a very long time. In oceanography, on the other hand, I could almost go straight into researching new problems. Even an undergraduate project can uncover interesting and as yet unknown findings, something that will continue to benefit me as I become further involved in student projects.

What are the best bits about your job?

I'm interested in my work. I am driven by my own interests and career aspirations and so never regret going in to the office. It's also a great working environment that always has interesting like-minded people around.

A day in your life....

It is a sad truth that a very good way to explore a great many interesting research questions is to use a computer. I therefore sit in front of a computer for much of my typical working day either processing numbers, reading papers or typing up my own manuscripts.

But is there a downside?

Yes, having to work on fixed term contracts until being ready to apply for highly competitive permanent positions. This, along with the massive rejection statistics that accompany very time consuming grant proposals, can create a lot of uncertainty around a future career.

But would you recommend it to others?

Absolutely. The positives of working on something you enjoy will for many people outweigh the negatives.

Examples of research areas targeted by EMBRACE


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