Last night I went to the 59th Annual Bennett Lecture, an annual occasion when a guest speaker comes in and gives a lecture for students, staff and the public, in memory of F.W. Bennett who played a key role in establishing the university and was a keen amateur geologist. This year, the speaker was Dr. Sue Loughlin who is Head of Volcanology at the British Geological Survey (BGS). Sue gave a talk entitled “The Role of Earth Science in Disaster Risk Reduction and Development” which raised some very interesting points to think about.
The talk was all about the role geologists have to play in reducing risk and building resilience to natural disasters, with a particular focus on volcanic hazards. Sue also talked about the importance of interdisciplinary research in order to best mitigate against hazards, with examples of how geologists can work alongside social scientists, engineers and medics to achieve results. A particularly important point that was highlighted was how crucial it is to engage with local communities to understand their experiences of disasters and how it impacts on their lives and livelihoods. It was a real eye-opener in terms of the amount of work that goes into volcano monitoring and responding to disasters and the amount of potential that there is for future work and research into disaster risk reduction. It’s always great to hear about how geology is applied in a real world context to save and improve lives.
The Bennett Lecture is just one of several opportunities for students to have to opportunity to listen to guest speakers. The student-run PCSB Geology Society and its sub-societies put on a weekly programme of talks with speakers from academia and industry. Recently the PCSB Society hosted Tim Gregory, one of the finalists on the BBC’s Astronauts: Do you Have What it Takes? which was won by Leicester’s very own Suzie Imber! I unfortunately wasn’t available but it sounds like it was a great talk. There’s also lunchtime research seminars where academics present aspects of their research, which are mainly aimed at staff and postgraduates although 4th year students are also invited. The Leicester Literary and Philosophical Society (LLPS) has a geology section which hosts a series of talks covering all aspects of geology. They take place on campus and students are welcome to attend.
Having the opportunity to listen to so many guest speakers is great, as it’s a great way to expand your knowledge about all areas of geology, get an insight in to the sorts of jobs available out there and have an opportunity for networking.