Member Spotlight

Here we showcase some of our amazing members


Dr Lorna Strachan

Senior Lecturer of Sedimentology, University of Auckland

What is your current field of research?

I am a marine geologist who specialises in understanding the way in which sediment moves and is deposited in the deep ocean. I do this by studying the seafloor, analysing sediment cores and also by looking at ancient seafloor sediments that have been turned to rock and are now exhumed at the earth’s surface.

What has your career path been like?

I followed a fairly typical education trajectory, once I finished high school I went to the University of Leeds to study a BSc (Hons) in Geological Sciences, followed by a PhD at Imperial College and Cardiff University. I then worked as a science administrator for year, did 2 post-doctoral research jobs and then moved to NZ where I was employed as a Lecturer in Sedimentology at the University of Auckland.

What’s the best advice anyone has ever given you? 

Someone told me to form collaborations with people you’d like to spend time with in the pub! I think that this was a great piece of advice! I have found the best and most enduring collaborations are with people I consider to be good friends. It’s a pleasure to work with them.

“Form collaborations with people you’d spend time with in the pub!”

What do you enjoy most about your job/research?

I enjoy several things, first the interaction with research students both in developing a good working relationship and in idea bouncing, second the luxury of essentially being my own boss, I get to decide what direction I want to take my research in and what information I want to share in my lectures. I think both of these aspects make academia a pretty special place work.

What does a typical day of work involve for you?

As a mother of 2 young children my days start early and involve getting the family up and ready to start work/daycare. Once at work my days are very varied. They can involve many hours of lecture and laboratory teaching, meetings with colleagues to plan teaching and research, skype meetings with research collaborators, meetings with my students, hands-on research of rock or core samples, or spending the day in the field. I am constantly juggling many tasks and priorities and so no two days are the same.

What advice would you give someone starting out in the same field?

Follow your passion and find a great team of people to work with.

Is there anything you find difficult/challenging? If so, how do you deal with this, is there any advice you have for someone in a similar position?

The juggle of work and family life is particularly tough sometimes, particularly during that 1st year back after parental leave. I have been lucky enough to have a mentor who has recently gone through a similar experience. The act of sharing experiences and talking about strategies to protect myself from taking on too much have been immensely helpful.

“These women are role models and trailblazers for others, like me, to follow.”

How has the field you work in changed (particularly regarding women) since you have started working?

There have always been a healthy number of women in the field of sedimentology, but only a relatively small number have remained in academia. This has certainly changed, with more and more female role models remaining in the field and reaching the highest echelons. These women are role models and trail blazers for others, like me, to follow.