My Geology Note-blog

A chronicle of my PhD journey and other geology writings

Month: September, 2016

Fix’d: Mary Rose project archive announcement

After months of rigorous work including talking thousands of photographs and processing the data for days on end, Sarah Aldridge’s work has culminated in the launch of virtualtudors.org, an online repository for 3D models of the remains of those who died on board the Mary Rose and the items the men once owned.

Working closely with other academics at Swansea and Oxford University as well as the Mary Rose Trust, whose multi million pound bespoke museum has just officially opened, Sarah has created an archive of data open to the public and possibly the first of its kind.

Sarah’s Engineering supervisor has been quoted as saying that Sarah’s work ‘would test the scientific value of digital archaeology – and the world’s burgeoning collection of cyber-artefacts.’ And that “Lots of museums are digitising collections, and a lot of the drive behind that is creating a digital copy of something,”

Sarah’s Biomechanics supervisor also highlights the potential impact for modern human health: “It might be that somebody in, I don’t know, Arizona, has a particular speciality and they say, ‘Do you realise that this person here has such-and-such a condition?’ It’d be very nice if that happened,”

Sarah has commented that during her time performing the photography for each 3D model things have got a lot quicker, at the beginning a single skull could take an entire day. Sarah’s lab mates are grateful that with the successful launch of the website they might actually get some time on the computers again. One colleague has been quoted as saying, “Sarah’s work is awesome, we’re so please it’s got some much press coverage…. But we need another computer to cope with all the work!”

With 92 almost complete human skeletons,  over twice as many individuals identified from the ship not mentioning the thousands or artefacts found Sarah’s work will create an unprecedented window for the public to interact with Tudor history.


Author note: This is a satire on how PhD student’s work will always come second in priority to those who originally had the idea.

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I’m bad at self-promotion, yo

It took me 9 drafts to write my UCAS personal statement. Nine. And I don’t mean 9 edits, 9 completely different, total start-over rewrites. Basically, I find it difficult to talk about myself.

Ask me to talk about Star Wars? I’ll give you plot summaries for a dozen different expanded universe novels and a full critical analysis of the films.
Mention Robot Wars? I’ll give you my top 10 robots and all the series winners.
Doctor Who? I can do a one woman re-enactment of the episode “Eleventh Hour”.
Geology? I hope you’re sitting comfortably because I’m about to give you a ten part lecture series with particular focus on volcanology, petrology and the applications of X-ray tomography.
Science fiction? Let me tell you about the last 5 novels I’ve read and what else the authors of said works have also written.
Ask me to sell my skills and/or talents in a 60 second elevator pitch? I’ll clam up faster than a bivalve out of water.

Applying for things have always required a certain level of selling one’s self. It makes sense, who else is going to explain why someone should hire you except you? Except when you can’t do it well at all. And that’s particularly worrying for the perpetually self-deprecating. This type of self-promotion is needed as much for taking part in events and activities as applying for jobs. The outcomes are different but the methods are similar.

More generally, my issue is trying to walk the fine line between “hay, I’m taking part in a thing” and “hay, check out how brilliant I am for doing this thing” and fearing I come off more like the latter than the former. One solution seems to be removing the “I” and “me” from the equation, i.e. “Hay, this thing is something really exciting and interesting, hope you can come along!” Shifting the focus from the self onto the action or topic, if you will.

The other solution is the aforementioned self-deprecating route, i.e. “Hay guys, come along and laugh at me doing a very public thing”. Which certainly works as a way of hiding real insecurities under a facade of exaggerated, artificial insecurities.

Another is to speak plainly and not second guess what people may or (as likely) may not be thinking vis.: “Hay, I’m taking part in an event called Soapbox Science on Saturday 10th September with a group of other female scientists in Swansea City Centre and I’d really like to have some friendly faces in the crowd.”

There, I finally said it.