Laura Soul, DPhil, Worcester 2011

Postdoctoral fellow, Smithsonian NMNH

When I finished my undergraduate degree I didn’t know what I wanted to do, my main plan was to leave the country. I had really enjoyed my masters research project but wasn’t sure if a PhD was for me. The following year I applied for several PhD courses that really interested me, as well as Masters and jobs in different fields. In the end I was offered the project at Oxford that had been top of my list and continuing into a DPhil was definitely a good choice for me. However, I think I would have been happy working in any of the areas I had applied to and I’m glad I took time to explore my options after finishing.

I’m currently a postdoctoral fellow in the paleobiology department at the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History in Washington D.C. My fellowship is a new idea that they’re trying out at the museum where I conduct research similarly to most postdocs, but have time allocated for outreach. I took part in outreach throughout my DPhil but it’s nice to have it written into my job, as it means I can devote serious time to developing different projects. At the moment I’m working on strategies for citizen science in palaeontology. Museums are excellent places to work, and a great alternative to the traditional university centred route in academia, particularly for Earth Scientists.