The School of Geography, Politics and Sociology

Nicholas Barrand

Dr Nicholas Barrand

Nicholas graduate in 2001 with a BSc in Geography. He is now Higher Scientific Officer at the British Antarctic Survey.

Studying at Newcastle

I would say that the most valuable way in which my time in Newcastle shaped my career path was by introducing me to a wide variety of topics in earth science, and to some of the scientists working in these fields.

Having the time and opportunity to spend learning about these subjects meant that by the end of my degree I had a much better idea about what I was interested in, and perhaps as importantly, what I was not interested in.

I was also able to learn how I could pursue a career in my chosen field, and the skills I learnt during my undergraduate degree meant that I was now qualified to conduct further research.

Career profile

I'm currently employed as a Higher Scientific Officer at the British Antarctic Survey in Cambridge. I'm a research scientist in the Ice Sheets Group. In my role, I conduct scientific research on the glaciology of Antarctica.

My present role involves the use of airborne and satellite remotely-sensed datasets, in combination with in situ measurements and numerical models, to examine the response of the Antarctic Peninsula ice sheet to climate change.

After graduating from Newcastle, I completed an MSc in Geographical Information Systems at the University of Leeds (2001 – 2002). I then did my PhD in Glaciology / Remote Sensing at University of Wales, Swansea (2002-2007).

Before starting my current role I worked as a Post-Doctoral Research Fellow at Department of Earth & Atmospheric Sciences, University of Alberta, Canada.

Remembering Newcastle

The opportunity to learn about many different fields of physical geography/earth science research was really valuable. It offered me a solid grounding in the principles of the scientific method and rigorous quantitative analysis. It also allowed me the opportunity to conduct scientific fieldwork in the UK and abroad.

I really enjoyed meeting people (both students and staff) who were enthusiastic about their work and highly motivated by the advancement of knowledge in their respective fields.

In terms of the taught modules, I was most interested in topics such as:

  • philosophy of science
  • quantitative analysis
  • field techniques and field courses
  • quaternary climate change
  • geomorphological techniques
  • geographical information science
  • catchment hydrology

My field trip memories include the second year field course to the Loch Assynt region of north west Scotland with Ian Boomer, Andy Baker and others. In the third year I went to Western Canada with Darrel Maddy, Ian and others.