Catherine Wheller discusses her research as a PhD candidate in the School of Earth Sciences.
My PhD studies seek to extend our knowledge of metamorphic geology – the study of rocks formed deep in mountain belts. My fieldwork is enabling me to discover how minerals form at high-temperatures as well as the formation conditions of Madagascar and the supercontinent Gondwana.
I was awarded the John and Allan Gilmour Research Award in 2014, which allowed me to undertake fieldwork in remote southern Madagascar to collect samples for my PhD research that I would have otherwise been unable to do. My work up until that time had been largely theoretical and it was incredible to be able to visit an area where exploration is lacking.
The scholarship provided for my airfare and transport within the country and ensured I had access to safe food, drinking water and a local guide. I now have invaluable experience working in a remote area as a field geologist.
Receiving the scholarship was a fantastic confidence boost and I was proud to be representing The University of Melbourne and the John and Allan Gilmour Trust overseas. The funding came mid-way through my PhD candidature and there is no better time to feel that your research matters and that the faculty supports what you are doing. I was also excited - such an opportunity to take my skills to the field.
I have caught the fieldwork bug, so I would like to explore many more field areas as a postdoctoral researcher. I also enjoy the teaching opportunities I have had within my department and would like to develop these further and one day lead my own students into the field. A career in Earth Sciences has the potential to be incredibly diverse, and I am excited and motivated for the future.