#SmashingStereotypes – An Interview with Marianne, Senior Environmental Scientist at CTS
For the launch of British Science Week, we wanted to share an interview with one of our inhouse Geoscientists Dr Marianne Brett.
The science, technology, engineering, and maths (STEM) sectors are much more diverse than you may first think. We are supporting @ScienceWeekUK and highlighting that the construction industry needs scientists too. Read on to find out more.
Where did you go to University and what did you study?
I studied a four-year integrated master’s course in Geosciences at Durham University. This course covered geology, geophysics and environmental chemistry with some meteorology and oceanography thrown in for good measure. My highlights were doing my dissertation research in New Zealand and the geology road trip from Denver to San Francisco in the fourth year while everyone else was doing exams! I went immediately into my doctoral studies at Royal Holloway University where I studied climate change in the South Pacific and was lucky enough to do field work in Fiji and the Cook Islands, as well as presenting my research in conferences in Melbourne and San Francisco.
Why did you choose Science as a career?
During my doctoral studies I realised that the science is conclusive that anthropogenic climate change is happening and that humans need to stop polluting so much! I considered that the most effective way for me to help the environmental was to go into industry and help clean up pollution, divert waste away from landfills and be part of the move to the green economy and sustainable ways of working. Construction is a huge emitter of greenhouse gases and there are loads of opportunities to clean up historical pollution as part of new development, so this is where I think I can have the greatest positive impact.
What do you enjoy most about science and what you do?
Science is being curious about the world and asking lots of questions; that has always appealed to me as I like to know the “why” and “how” of everything. In this job I get to think about unique sites, design investigations, collect data, scrutinise it and write reports, which is similar to academia in some ways, but it’s a lot more fast paced and is applied in the “real world”. I also love that we work in teams and all support each other, as well as sometimes working with different parts of the business on site investigations.
What is your role at CTS and what does a typical day look like?
I am the Senior Environmental Scientist based out of the Harrietsham office in Kent. The COVID-19 restrictions have changed the way we work, but we are still team oriented. Even though we are working from home we have a short team meeting every morning via Teams, it’s great to feel that we are still part of a community even though we don’t see each other as often. A typical day involves preparing tendering documents, meeting with clients to discuss their projects, writing or checking reports and discussing project strategy with my team or the geotechnical engineers. I’m also involved in the COFE Club (Creating Opportunities for Excellence, a CTS women in business initiative) and attend CPD events such as webinars and online forums. I do get out on site for the more involved projects, but much of my work is desk based.
Why would you encourage people to consider a career in STEM?
STEM underpins the economy, and it drives innovation and progress in every industry: even music, art, culture, and fashion need STEM specialists. With a STEM career the world is your oyster because your skills will be in demand wherever you go, and they are applicable across every sector. You also get to be at the forefront of change and innovation, which is so exciting, and your role can be as broad or specialised as you like. I learn new things every day and for me that’s essential for a happy life.
What do you like doing out of work?
Outside of work I am an outdoors person, I love rowing, sailing, and cycling, climbing and hiking; ideally, I would be outside all day every day, even in the rain, maybe with a pub lunch and some camping! During the last year of course a lot of these things have been restricted so I have taken up allotment gardening, video gaming and sea swimming. I try to go for a dip as often as possible, usually 3 or 4 times a week, I live close to the sea so I can nip down there at the drop of a hat.