Frances Boreham

Frances Boreham

Causes and Consequences of Hazardous Lava-Water Interactions, with Particular Focus on Rootless Eruptions
University of Bristol
Hi! Tell us a bit about yourself – what stage of your PhD are you in and what’s your project about?

I’ve recently finished my PhD; I had my viva in November 2020 and submitted my corrections in February 2021.

What did a typical day or week look like for you?

I’m now working outside research, but during my PhD my work was really varied.

For the first few years of my PhD I focused more on geospatial analysis, interpreting satellite images and matching them with observations from fieldwork. I did intensive field trips at the start of my first and second years of PhD, and used the data gathered to inform my work. In the final year of my PhD, I focused on numerical modelling, so most of my time was spent building and running models and then interpreting the data. Throughout all of this, I had busy periods of writing as I prepared my work for publication.

What’s one thing that you enjoyed the most during your PhD?

Learning new skills in a new field. My PhD is in geology but my previous career was in engineering. And the great field trips to Iceland and the Oregon Cascades.

What’s been the most challenging part of it?

Switching fields, and learning to write up my research as journal papers.

Where do you see yourself 5 years after having now completed your PhD?
While I enjoyed my PhD and loved my subject, I’ve now moved out of academia and research and am working in renewable energy. The perpetual uncertainty of early-career academia and post-docs seems incompatible with family life; I had my son mid-way through my PhD and decided to prioritise stability.

What’s one piece of advice that you’d offer students that are thinking of doing a PhD?
There will always be ups and downs during a PhD, or any research project. Everyone has them, and the best way to get out of a difficult period is to be open and honest with your supervisors, friends or other advisers. Don’t be afraid to ask for help, the earlier the better.

What makes your university a good place to study?

I love Bristol as a city, and I really liked the friendly, welcoming environment in the School of Earth Sciences there.

Lastly, what do you enjoy doing in your free time?

I enjoy hiking and hill-walking, reading, sewing and knitting. However most of my spare time is now taken up entertaining my toddler!

Thanks Frances! How can our readers learn more about you and get in touch?

My Twitter handle is @FrancesBoreham
My ResearchGate profile is: https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Frances-Boreham-2

I have two published papers:
Boreham, Frances, et al. “Linking lava flow morphology, water availability and rootless cone formation on the Younger Laxá Lava, NE Iceland.” Journal of Volcanology and Geothermal Research 364 (2018): 1-19.

Boreham, Frances, Katharine Cashman, and Alison Rust. “Hazards from lava–river interactions during the 1783–1784 Laki fissure eruption.” GSA Bulletin 132.11-12 (2020): 2651-2668.