Myles Watson talks to Smart Futures about his career as a geologist.
What is your job title?
I am a junior geologist with Providence Resources.
What work does a junior geologist do?
Finding oil fields is crucial to understand how the area has evolved over geological time, and that involves taking a look at all the information gathered over decades. I assist in these investigations by looking at geological evidence, rocks samples, research and geophysical surveys.
How did you choose geology as a career?
Coming out of school I had a strong interest in science, but I hadn’t the foggiest which avenue to take.
I studied biology and chemistry and had a notion that’s what I wanted to do, so I chose the science omnibus course in UCD to give me a broad spectrum and to see what I liked. That involved 12 modules in first year and I gravitated toward geology and modules that involved field work, because I always had a strong interest in the natural world.
What advantages are there to being a geologist?
A main advantage is that a petroleum geologist can work absolutely anywhere and everywhere. Irish geologists are working all over the world, including places like Africa and Canada, working onshore or offshore on an oil rig. It is a pretty cool to travel by helicopter to work every day. Besides being financially rewarding, the work is exciting too.
What’s a typical day like?
There isn’t a typical day. We are a small company and we have a range of projects, so I work on different projects on different days. I might be looking at data from drilling rigs or seismic surveys. Recently I investigated new areas that might be rewarding for the company, and I assisted with a geophysical survey on Rathlin Island.
Is field work then a big attraction for you?
I’m from the country and I like getting out and about. For my final-year project in UCD, I spent almost the whole summer doing a mapping project in the Alps in France, which was an amazing experience. Physically looking at rocks, making observations and then interpreting these observations is, for me, a very elementary kind of science.
How did you become interested in science?
I’d always an interest in the natural world. That would have come from my dad, who has a strong interest in science and is outdoorsy; he would have had science magazines in the house so that sparked my interest. And in a way, geology found me, as I just chose subjects I liked and gradually moved into it.
What subjects in school helped?
Science subjects like biology and chemistry get you thinking in the mind-frame of a scientist. I also did art, and surprisingly that helped a lot. Undergraduate geology involves a lot of drawing, sketching specimens and picking out important details. English is also important, because there is lots of report-writing in science.
You are now doing a master’s degree?
Yes, I’m doing the MSc petroleum geoscience course in UCD. This is the first year it has run and it’s a fantastic course. It was something I needed to do [for my career]. I put the idea to Providence Resources and they offered to sponsor me. The people here in Providence have been fantastic since I joined as an intern [in the summer of 2012].