Romesh Palamakumbura talks about geology as a lifestyle and how friendships forged during fieldwork trips are friendships for life.
Masters of Earth Science (Geology)
|Year of leaving
Your time at the University
I have always had an interest in the big processes that have shaped our planet, and particularly applying chemistry, physics, biology and maths to understand natural systems. The study of earth science was a great opportunity to study and understand a broad range of sciences in a natural outdoor laboratory.
The degree programme at Edinburgh provided an excellent grounding in fundamental geology, as well as giving me the opportunity to undertake lots of fieldwork in the Scottish Highlands and abroad. Also, when visiting the department staff were incredibly friendly and welcoming.
The interaction between theoretical and practical work. The structure of the degree meant that you would learn the fundamental theory in lectures, develop that understanding in laboratory and then finally understand these processes in a wider context in the field. The friendships you develop in your degree, and particularly during fieldwork, will last well beyond your degree and I am often bumping into people I studied with in my current career.
Edinburgh was an incredible place to study, with a vibrant city, local hills nearby and easy access to the Scottish Highlands, allowing for an excellent work-life balance. It was the people that I met during my undergraduate at Edinburgh, whether during my degree or during extracurricular activities such as the cycling club, that made my experience so enjoyable and memorable.
Your experiences since leaving the University
After my degree at Edinburgh I went on to do a PhD looking at tectonic controls of mountain building in Cyprus and then a post-doc on the geochemistry of volcanic arc sediments in New Zealand. I am currently working as a geologist for the British Geological Survey, where I get to work on a wide variety of projects from geotechnical properties of post-glacial marine sediments in Scotland to fracture networks and their impacts on groundwater permeability in India.
The friendships you develop in your degree, and particularly during fieldwork, will last well beyond your degree and I am often bumping into people I studied with in my current career.
The advice I was given during my PhD, which was at an early stage in my training and career was to think about what makes you a unique geologist, and tailor your training and experience towards this whether it is the modules you take at undergraduate, a specific taught masters or work experience during summer holidays.
Studying geology is more than just a career choice, it’s a lifestyle. No matter what direction you take in your career you’re sure to meet some incredibly interesting people, find yourself in some spectacular settings from remote field work areas to meetings and conferences around the word and the work is always challenging and interesting.
British Geological Survey (external link)