May 18, 2012, by Tim Meadows

A day in the life of a Geographer… Tim Meadows

From spending a week and a half in the Lake District with the first years (see Andy’s post for details) to a day trip to Turkey Brook in Hertforshire with a couple of students from the second year rivers module, and even a chance meeting with Sarah Metcalfe and Alex Vasudevan on an ill-fated train journey back up from London, the last nine weeks have certainly been fairly full-on. One of the more notable things for me, however, was getting an abstract accepted for the BSG (British Society for Geomorphology) Conference in June. It’ll be the first major conference at which I’ll be presenting a proper oral paper in front of a number of leading academics, so a bit daunting but definitely a great opportunity at the same time. Getting the paper accepted has really spurred me on in terms of my research as I need to make sure I’ve got everything done in time to be included in the presentation. So a busy month or so lies ahead, but it gives me a good reason to crack on and really make some progress before a trip to Washington State and Mount St Helens later in the summer.

My research has also come a long way since my last post. Some data and computational issues have slowed things down to a certain extent, but now that most of these have been sorted I’ve been able to start analysing and evaluating the results of some initial model runs in more detail. Early indications are promising and suggest that the model that I’m using (CAESAR) could provide some really interesting insights into future landscape evolution in my study catchment. A new version of CAESAR was also released this week, and although I haven’t had much of a chance to use it yet, this marks an exciting(!) new development and I’m looking forward to putting it through its paces at Mount St Helens.

My day-to-day PhD research has been supplemented this week by a number of other activities. The first of these was an introductory session to R on Tuesday given by George Swann. R is basically a programming language which enables you to carry out statistical analysis and to plot graphs, but has far greater functionality and is able to handle much larger data sets than things like Excel or SPSS. I was really keen to use R and George did a great job of explaining how to get started to novices like me. The session was part of a ‘lunchtime learning’ series, set up principally by Darren Beriro (another PhD student), which encourages postgrads (and staff in George’s case) throughout the School to share their knowledge and expertise of different methodological techniques. So far a very successful innovation and hopefully it’ll continue for a long time to come.

The second interesting interlude came on Thursday when I was asked to take part in a photo shoot for the Geography postgrad prospectus along with Georgie Wood. This basically involved an hour or two of setting up different scenarios that would encapsulate PhD study in the School, which is actually a trickier task than it may sound. I think the pictures came out well though, so we’ll be awaiting publication of the prospectus to see which ones made the cut.

The week ended with a supervision meeting with Colin Thorne and Nick Mount on Friday morning. Our meetings are always fairly entertaining and a variety of topics usually gets discussed, sometimes even my PhD! It’s great to chat to them both and they have some really good ideas and interesting perspectives on various aspects of my work, and this morning’s meeting was a particularly productive one. I now need to get cracking with writing my year 2 update report, can’t believe I’m coming up to the end of second year already!

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