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Lawrence Amy interview

Dr Lawrence Amy, Lecturer and Assistant Professor, UCD School of Earth Sciences

 Headshot of Lawrence Amy

What is your research about?

There are two aspects to my research. Broadly, it’s about understanding sediment transport

processes, which means figuring out how sediment is transported and what controls this

  1. I use a variety of approaches to understand sediment transport, from mathematical
  2. And you don’t need to do a geoscience job afterwards. You will acquire practical,

modelling, to laboratory modelling, to looking at outcrops and physical modelling. Some of this research includes studying the largest sediment transport events on the planet, 1000s of kilometres long. The models I work with can also be applied to the understanding

of processes on other planetary bodies in our solar system, such as Mars and Titan, where we know fluids play an important role in moving sediment and forming their landscapes.

The other aspect is research about stratigraphic traps, which are where reservoirs pinchout

keeping fluids in the subsurface that can apply to hydrocarbons or CO2 storage.

Ultimately, if you understand sediment transport, you can understand erosion, deposition,

and start to make some educated guesses about where you might find stratigraphic traps

and reservoirs in the subsurface.

How did you end up choosing geology as a career?

I took geology as a subject in school as part of my A levels in the UK. Then my brother did a

geology degree, and when he was doing his mapping project in France I went camping

there: just wandering around in the mountains was great! What drew me to geology was

being out in nature and the feeling of discovery that you get when doing fieldwork. I did my

degree at Leeds and after that I was able to work in America and travel to the southwest US, including Arizona and Utah. I love the beauty of the natural landscape and being able to see geology in all its glory. If that element wasn’t there, I’d probably be doing something else.

Can you describe a typical week for you?

A typical week would include teaching, working on scientific papers and with theoretical

models, using MATLAB for example. During the summer mainly I get out on field work and

work in the laboratory playing with water and sediment in big “fish” tanks. What keeps me

interested in my work is that every day is slightly different, and you’re always learning new things, whether it is through writing a paper, talking to research students and helping them

with their projects, doing mathematical modelling, going into the lab, or doing fieldwork.

What is your advice for someone interested in studying geology?

If you’re interested in the way the planet works, what’s around us, then consider studying

problem-solving skills that are transferrable. Geoscientists are usually quite flexible in their approaches. This is evident in industry because geoscientists work with uncertainties and

need to be flexible.