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Siobhan Whadcoat Profile

Geography Alum Siobhan Whadcoat


What year did you graduate? 


What subjects did you study prior to arriving in Durham? 

A level: Geography, Maths and Biology. 
AS level: English (Literature & Language). 

Which degree programme did you study at Durham and why? 

BSc in Geography because I've always enjoyed (and been better at) the sciences than the arts. I love being outdoors and was really excited by the opportunity to study more about the world and to better understand our natural environment. Aspects of physical geography at school had always proved very interesting so the BSc program was an easy choice for me. 

What were the highlights of studying at Durham? 

The people. Being taught by world leading researchers, not only in a large group setting (i.e. a lecture) but also in smaller tutorials and project work. I gained so much from their knowledge and from their enthusiasm for the subject. Also, Geography at Durham presented lots of opportunity for group work. This was always a fun and challenging way to work - we learnt a lot from one another and the ability to work well in a group is an invaluable skill to leave with. 

The fieldwork. The undergraduate program provided so many opportunities to get out and see the environments that we were studying. This was always really fun and proved a very engaging and effective way to learn. 

What was the topic of your third-year dissertation? 

Investigating the use of the Alpine treeline as an environmental indicator. This was based on a case study of the Arolla Valley in Switzerland. 

What are you doing now and how did your degree help prepare you? 

Beyond my undergrad I stayed at Durham for a Research Masters on the topic of post-earthquake landsliding and sediment dynamics. This project and the opportunity to do the masters came from working alongside one of the Professors in a 3rd year project. Following my masters I went to study and teach at a university in the USA for two years and since have returned to Durham to work towards my PhD. I am currently halfway through and I am focusing on the evolution of rockfalls, using numerical modelling to help understand how this happens over different spatial and temporal scales. 

My degree enthused me to continue studying further: It showed me the breadth of the subject, whilst particular modules inspired my focus on mountain environments; it provided me with the skills necessary to undertake research and to work with a wide variety of people; it challenged me and encouraged me that there is always more to learn; and it gave me a passion to share this with others through education and outreach.