Joyce Vetterlein

PhD Geology   

'About 20 years ago I was doing an A-level course via evening class, and I heard about Birkbeck then. I started out not really intending to do a geology degree, but I did my undergraduate degree at Birkbeck almost ten years ago and enjoyed it so much that I then signed up for my PhD at the College almost immediately afterwards.

'I have just finished a PhD in Planetary Geology.  I did my thesis on The Structural Geology of the Cerberus Fossae on Mars. There were cracks near the equator of Mars, so I looked at NASA data and it looked like fault lines. It was really very exciting because if there is active volcanism on Mars it means that conditions for life might be present. It’s incredibly exciting to be involved in this area of research, looking for evidence of past or present life elsewhere in the universe. Studying geology has got me looking a lot more carefully at the land I’m on. Looking at it with a completely different eye, it’s the ultimate historical perspective.

'The last year that I spent doing my PhD, there was a lot of pressure, but I just got up very early in the morning and got through it. Although I was obviously under pressure, I didn’t feel at the time that I was because I was so absorbed in my research. Education has always been part of my life.

'My relationship with my supervisor at Birkbeck was great and the other students couldn’t have been nicer. There’s a lovely atmosphere at Birkbeck.'

Find out more about our geology courses.