Tuesday, 11 June 2013

Busy bees

Things seem to be rather busy at the moment. Two weeks ago (seems like yesterday) I made my first trip to Finland. I spent a brief day and a half in Helsinki acting as the "Opponent" for the PhD defence of (now) Dr Salla Venalainen at the University of Helsinki, Faculty of Agriculture and Forestry. Salla had written an excellent thesis about how mine waste pilings from a mine in northern Finland could be used to stop phosphorus pollution in streams and remediation shooting range soil that is contaminated with lead due to all the bullets that miss the target (this is a common problem, it's not that the Finnish are particularly bad shots!). Helsinki was lovely and sunny with some great architecture, I can recommend it.

Helsinki harbour, the large white building is the cathedral

I've also been up in Glasgow acting as external examiner for the Environmental Chemistry BSc. Once again I've been very impressed by the practical skills that the students develop on the course, really good hands on experience.

This isn't a current Glasgow chemistry student but Joseph Black. He was (according to Wikipedia) an 18th century physician and chemist who discovered, amongst other things carbon dioxide. Perhaps without him global warming wouldn't exist? The chemistry department building in Glasgow (and coincidentally in Edinburgh) is named after Joseph Black.

There is also preparation for "I'm a scientist - get me out of here!" which luckily doesn't involve eating grubs but instead doing live web chats with school pupils about science. That kicks off next week - wish me luck.

Then there are grant deadlines coming up (for anyone reading this not familiar with the academic system, to do research you have to fund it and to do this you have to persuade some one to give you the money, a grant) - and a conference "Minerals for life" next week in Edinburgh all about how we are dependent on minerals for 21st century living. Should be good.

A view of Edinburgh, a lovely city surrounded by extinct volcanoes.

I guess it's all better than being bored but I'm hoping things quieten down next month.

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