Photo courtesy of the Hanse-wissenschaftskolleg

M o t i v a t i o n

Philippa grew up near Newcastle upon Tyne in northeast England, with her four siblings, navigating the dichotomous synergy of competitiveness and community. With an interest in exploring individuals’ identity and sense of place she was initially destined for a Fine Art degree, but along the way discovered a deep-rooted desire for exploration and understanding of the natural world. She switched her lens from inward to outward-looking, and moved to study Environmental Science at the University of York, UK, achieving a First-Class (with Distinction) degree. Feeling charged by learning and completely in awe of the physical, chemical and biological interactions driving the engine that is our global climate system, Philippa immediately went on to study for a PhD in Marine Biogeochemistry at Newcastle University, UK. She has since worked on a number of international multidisciplinary collaborations exploring UK estuaries, German bays, Swedish lakes, the North Sea and Atlantic Ocean.


Now working in aquatic biogeochemistry in the Carbon-Water Dynamics team at the Lyell Centre, Heriot-Watt University, Edinburgh, Philippa is focussed on the functioning of the uppermost 1-mm of water; something that covers ~70% of this blue planet’s surface and holds a whole world within. This microlayer is a complex mixture of organic matter, home to a distinct ecosystem, and is the gatekeeper for the movement of gases and particles between the atmosphere and our Ocean, rivers and lakes. Understanding the microlayer is essential for climate change predictions, and ultimately socioeconomic mitigation strategies.

E t h o s

Somewhere on the South Atlantic, February 2023. Photo: Federico Ienna

Learning remains a fundamental driver for Philippa, and she firmly believes in embedding her values in her career path, which centre around community, sharing perspectives of the world with others and that we can all learn something from everyone we meet. Philippa has benefited from incredibly proactive and supportive role models and mentors, who have provided her with opportunities during her academic career; from working as a Research Assistant during her undergraduate degree to, more recently, being sent on a six-week expedition on the Atlantic Ocean. This has underpinned the importance of diverse role models, experiences and peer support into Philippa's approach to teaching, to enhance equitable access to learning.


Philippa actively seeks out opportunities to engage and collaborate in interdisciplinary settings, with scientists, educators, artists - and most recently, historians and novelists. She has spent time as Editor for science communication magazine and blog, {react}, was a member of the Enviresearch Foundation funding panel, and currently hosts Confidence Intervals podcast, which explores and questions our markers of success in society and revisits Philippa's innate interest in identity through a scientific lens.

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