Professional updates


Whiteboard markers and a whiteboard.This term, in addition to my modelling work at Marine Scotland, I’m the instructor for two masters modules at ICIT (Heriot-Watt’s Orkney campus). This is my first experience of teaching, beyond the occasional seminar here and there, and I’m really enjoying it. I have a small group of interested students, who want to be there (I realise that this is a privilege of teaching postgrad), who ask intelligent questions… and that makes it really rewarding.

It’s also very hard work. I was brought in at fairly short notice after a lecturer left, to fill in the gap before a new one could be recruited. I’m only going to be delivering this content once, yet I’ve chosen to put together my own material for it based on what the previous instructor did, rather than using his directly. That’s because the content follows a different logical order in my head to his, and… well, as anybody who has tried giving a presentation using somebody else’s slides will attest, it’s not a great experience for anybody concerned. So I’m talking to students for 2-2.5 hours most mornings, and spending the afternoons preparing future material – trying to stay 2-3 days ahead, but occasionally catching up with myself. It’s not a pace that I could sustain in the long term, but it works for a few weeks.

This experience has reassured me that, should I be successful in landing a long-term academic role in the future (and I realise that that is a very long way from guaranteed), then I would be able to embrace the teaching side as enthusiastically as the research.

Of course, this is only half of the job. My lectures finish next week, but towards the end of the year the marking will begin….

Posted by simon in Professional updates, Reflective

Corrections accepted!

When I had my viva I reflected that although it was an important milestone, it didn’t feel very climactic because it was simply a gate passed beyond which there was more work to do.

A few weeks ago I finally got word back from my internal examiner that my thesis corrections had been accepted. This felt far more joyful and climatic, because this was an agreement that from an academic perspective, I had passed and would receive a PhD; the only remaining hurdles were bureaucratic ones.

A week later I printed four copies of the thesis and organised an overnight trip to Edinburgh to get them bound and handed in. I got a receipt, and I clutched on to it like the special document that it was. This was what I was waiting for – the point at which I could fully relax. Well, before worrying about the next job 😉


Two pictures. On the left, a cardboard box with "Simon's Thesis" scrawled on the top in marker. On the right, four hard bound theses - black books with gold lettering.

Before and after. Photos: Author.


Posted by simon in Professional updates, Reflective

News! Thesis! Job!

Hello world. I have two bits of news.

A stack of paper, about 2cm high

And that’s double-sided!

The first one is that a couple of weeks ago I sent a complete draft of my thesis to my supervisors. This isn’t the end of anything as there’s still plenty of work to do, both before and after they get back to me, before it’s ready to be submitted for examination; but it’s a milestone. I’d never printed the whole thing in one go before, and I was surprised by its bulk…

The second piece of news is that I have a new job! I’ve been lucky enough to win a NERC “innovation placement”, which will allow me to spend a year working with the Oceanography team at Marine Scotland Science. From next month I’ll be doing the same type of modelling that I’ve done for most of the last four years, but instead of using it for energy I’ll be working on applications in aquaculture.

This doesn’t mean that I’m leaving energy behind, at least for now – apart from anything else, if time permits there’s at least one more energy-related paper waiting to be written. But it will be valuable for me to diversify my skills and experience in a different area for a year.

Posted by simon in Professional updates, Reflective