- Course: MSc Geological Sciences (Industrial)
- Year of graduation: 2003
Ruth Fain is putting her Master’s degree in environmental geology to work helping to make British industry cleaner and greener. She came to Leeds from Wath Comprehensive School in South Yorkshire and her degree included a year at the University of California in Davis, near San Francisco, which she describes as a great experience.
“The year abroad was a major reason for choosing Leeds and I’m so happy that I did! Being in America gave me total independence and real confidence and I visited some amazing geology and scenery - crater lakes, volcanoes, hot springs in the snow, and Yellowstone. The trip was a real eye-opener and also helped me appreciate the breadth and depth of study at Leeds – my course gave me a great grounding for my career.”
Today Ruth, 26, works for environmental consultants Golder Associates (UK) Limited, monitoring pollution from factories and waste management sites. She advises industrialists on applying Pollution Prevention and Control Regulations to reduce their environmental impact by cutting back on their use of natural resources and limiting their emissions.
The knowledge that Ruth gained at Leeds is invaluable in her daily work, “I regularly use geochemical processes to analyse contaminated land, and environmental management techniques to implement systems or to assess environmental impact, and I apply software expertise gained during all those long hours of computer training on spreadsheets, modelling, visualisation etc. I learnt the basics of pretty much everything I do today at Leeds.”
Although the job can be pressurised at times, often with several projects on the go at once, Ruth relishes her responsibilities and the variety of her work, “I liaise closely with leading industry managers and must be able to translate scientific ideas and media hype into tangible economic and environmental benefits for them.”
Ruth’s work takes her all over the UK and has included waste treatment surveys and investigations in Scotland, air quality and odour impact assessments in England, and industry workshops in Ireland. “The travelling can get a bit tiring at times but I’m never bored and rarely spend more than a couple of days in the office – it’s great.”
Ruth is happy that her work has a direct effect on improving the environment, “At university, I really enjoyed the environmental side of my degree so working in an industry that assesses and addresses the human impact on the Earth is perfect.
I get great satisfaction when my clients recognise how they harm the environment and see that small changes in their behaviour can reduce their impact significantly. It’s difficult with some industries, but now and then you really get through to someone and that feels great.”