Monday, 27 November 2017

Stable Isotope PhD training at the BGS...by Melanie Leng

In November the BGS hosted the second PhD training course in “Principles and Practise of Stable Isotope Geochemistry in Earth and Environmental Geosciences”. This intensive 2 day course attracted 30 PhD students from across the UK (from St. Andrews to Exeter) who are researching a diverse range of subjects including stable isotopes in Martian analogues, mantle perdotite, Mesolithic artifacts and Namurian shales!

The course had the aims of providing an introduction to general principles of isotope geochemistry (which are very similar across a range of disciplines), understanding notation and standardisation, to mass spectrometry physics. There were also lectures on isotopes and the water cycle and how these get transferred to palaeoclimate archives, how isotopes are used to trace nutrient and pollution cycles, isotopes in ecology and archaeology and also how we apply isotopes to a variety of geological questions, including the genesis of volcanic magmas, ore deposits and geothermal systems.

The course included a tour of the BGS Geological walkway (thanks to Steve Parry), the National Core Repository (thanks to Simon Harris), and the Centre for Environmental Geochemistry (including the stable isotope laboratories).

The responses from a Survey Monkey on the course were overwhelmingly positive, with the course being given an overall rating of 82%. When asked how clearly the course content was presented over 80% of the participants thought the background material and the application of stable isotope science content was presented either “very” or “extremely” clearly. Students were very happy with how their questions were dealt with, all respondents answering either “extremely” or “very” well. The students were also very impressed by the opportunities to network provided throughout the event. The comments about the course were positive: for example “Fantastic course with fantastic staff would like to be kept informed of other events hosted by the BGS” and “Enjoyable and useful course - locating it at BGS also useful for gaining insight to facilities and meeting staff”.

Thanks to all the students who attended (and gave 2 minute / 2 slide fast track presentations on their research which was extremely diverse!) and to the speakers: Adrian Boyce and Jason Newton (from SUERC); Jack Lacey, Angela Lamb, Melanie Leng, Andi Smith (Stable Isotope Facility, BGS)  and Kyle Taylor (Elementar). The course was sponsored by Sercon, Elementar, ThermoFisher and Elemtex. Next year the course will be held at SUERC in East Kilbride.  Check our web or social media or contact Adrian Boyce.


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