Rachael Sanders - Ocean Sciences MOSci (Hons)

What does your role involve and what is a typical work day like?

The work for my PhD involves using computer models to investigate changes in the temperature and salinity of the Southern Ocean. I focus specifically on how changes in the amount of sea ice and the strength of the winds around Antarctica have impacted the surface mixed layer of the ocean in recent years. To do this, I spend much of my time writing code in order to analyse the data. I also get to travel regularly to attend conferences and courses, and have taken part in two Antarctic research cruises, where I learned to use various oceanographic equipment as well as seeing some amazing scenery. Additionally, I have just completed a three month research placement at the University of Tasmania, where I was analysing data collected under an Antarctic ice shelf by an autonomous underwater vehicle.

Why did you choose to study xxxx at the University of Liverpool?

Before I went to university, I was very interested in science but didn't know which of my A Level subjects to continue with. When I found out about the ocean sciences courses, it seemed really interesting and a great way to combine all the subjects I'd previously been studying. The University of Liverpool was an easy choice because I love the city of Liverpool and after attending an open day, found the Ocean Sciences department to be very friendly. When I started, I was particularly interested in the climate aspect of the course, but became more and more interested in physical oceanography and switched to the four year MOSci Ocean Sciences as soon as it was introduced.

How did your degree prepare you for your current job?

I would not be able to do my PhD without the thorough understanding of physical oceanography provided by the course, as well as the skills that I developed in computer programming that I now use on a daily basis. Having a background in all aspects of oceanography also allows me to understand how my current research fits with wider research in areas of chemical and biological oceanography.

What did you feel was the most rewarding element of the course?

Completing my research projects in the third and fourth years of my course was incredibly rewarding. It made me realise how much knowledge I had gained during the previous three years, and allowed me to combine much of that knowledge to do my own research.

What did you enjoy most about your student experience?

I really enjoyed being in a small department where help was always on hand if needed. I also made some great friends who I still see regularly, as well as sometimes bumping into them at conferences.