Owen King

Owen King

Funding: National Secretariat of Higher Education, Science, Technology and Innovation of Ecuador (SENESCYT scholarship)

Supervisors: Dr Duncan Quincey (University of Leeds), Dr Jonathan Carrivick (University of Leeds), Dr Ann Rowan (University of Sheffield)

Why did you decide to study for a PhD, and why Leeds?

I found all aspects of physical geography fascinating during my time as an undergraduate at Leeds. The behaviour and future of the cryosphere really grabbed my attention, and I followed up my BSc with an MSc in Glaciology at Aberystwyth University. One of the main things that I learnt during my MSc is that there are still large gaps in our knowledge of glaciology, and that there are still many opportunities for people to conduct research in very lightly or indeed completely unstudied areas. The prospect of undertaking my own research in such an area was the main thing that convinced me to apply for a PhD. I chose to apply for a PhD at Leeds because the city is a fantastic place to live and because the department and University has a brilliant reputation for the research it carries out.

What is your experience of PhD study in the School and what skills have you learnt?

The School of Geography is a great place to work. There is a large group of sociable but hardworking postgraduate students who are brilliant to work alongside. More senior members of staff are also enthusiastic and approachable for advice and help with your work. The school has also recently relocated to a newly refurbished part of the University campus, and our office spaces and lab facilities really are top quality.

I’ve had to learn a range of skills over the first couple of years of my project. I’ve been away on fieldwork twice (amounting to 10 weeks working high in the Himalaya), and there has been a lot to learn in regard to organising such trips. I’ve also attended a number of different workshops and conferences where I’ve presented my own work. Being able to practice those presentations in front of other members of the River Basin Processes & Management group (http://www.geog.leeds.ac.uk/research/river-basin-processes-and-management/) here in the department has really helped. PhD students are also encouraged to submit work for publication in research journals, so learning how to clearly write up and present your work is an important skill to learn.

What are your career aspirations?

I’d love to carry on with research in glaciology and to do more fieldwork in the Himalaya and elsewhere. I’ve also really enjoyed demonstrating in undergraduate practical classes, so would be interested in teaching somewhere down the line.

More generally, what would you say to someone else who may be considering studying for a PhD in the School of Geography?

I’d strongly recommend visiting the department and meeting the prospective supervisors of any project you apply for. I’d also encourage anyone who hasn’t been to Leeds before to spend a couple of days exploring the city and the surrounding area.