Kirsty Pringle

Why did you decide to do a PhD at Leeds?
I was first interested in studying at Leeds because of the range of PhD topics on offer; subjects ranged from measurement based studies to PhDs based purely on numerical modelling.  When I went in for my interview day I was shown around and introduced to staff and students.  I met a few different supervisors to discuss different PhD topics, so I was able to get a good idea of what was on offer before deciding.  In the end, I chose the department because I thought the project was really interesting. 

How do you think a PhD degree has helped you develop?
I had no experience about numerical modelling before I started my PhD, so the most obvious skill I learnt is programming; I learnt how to run computer models and write computer code.  These are all skills I use daily in my current job so have clearly been important for my career.

In addition, I think you need a lot of self -discipline to do a PhD; in most jobs, your boss sets your deadlines, but in a PhD you have control over your own research, which means you set deadlines for yourself and you are responsible for choosing how and when you do the work.  From this, I think my time management has improved and also my organisational skills.  Learning to communicate your results is also really important.  I got a lot of experience presenting at conferences, which has given me more confidence in public speaking and I know I feel much more comfortable discussing scientific findings in meetings and seminars. 

Please give a brief profile of your career path to your current job
My first degree was in Chemistry at Edinburgh Uni.  After that, I spent six months working for an environmental consultancy firm as a researcher, which I enjoyed but it made me realise the importance of specialising in a particular field.  This led me to do a MSc in environmental science in Manchester, where I did a course on remote sensing of the atmosphere and another on atmospheric chemistry. Both these course stood out to me as fascinating, so I started looking at PhDs in atmospheric science.

What are the challenges and rewards of your current job?
I am now an air quality scientist in the Met Office Hadley Centre in Exeter.  This gives me the opportunity to carry on doing the research I am interested in, but it is a bit more applied so the research I do is targeted to the research needs of the government.  I like this as you get more of a chance to see where your research is used and why it is needed. 

What direction do you want your career to go in the future?
At the moment, I am happy carrying out research and learning more about my chosen field.  During my PhD I had the opportunity to help teach on some undergraduate modules, an experience that I really enjoyed, so in the long term I may look for an opportunity to combine my research interests with some teaching.