Student Spotlight September 2020: Liam Taylor

Our monthly spotlight on the work and lives of the next generation of water@leeds researchers.

This month we introduce Liam Taylor, who is the joint recipient of our 12th S.P.R.I.N.G competition.
PhD title: Using a new generation of remote sensing techniques to monitor Peru’s mountain glaciers
School of Geography
Supervisors: Dr Duncan Quincey, Dr Mark Smith, and Dr Malcolm McMillan (Lancaster)

Tell us a bit about yourself:

I grew up, and completed my Undergraduate degree, in Exeter. I’m a first-gen student, so I didn’t know that moving away to study was normal! Alongside my PhD, I’m trying to learn the violin. So far I can just about manage ‘Puff the Magic Dragon’.

Why did you choose Leeds University? 

It was time to spread my wings! Leeds is one of the best places to study geosciences and climate science, so it felt like a natural home for somebody who was not yet sure where they wanted to specialise. I did a Masters by Research in permafrost ecology (also with water@leeds), before switching fields to glaciology. The breadth of research at Leeds allowed that transition.

What is your research about? 

In the last few years, there has been a lot of new and exciting technologies to observe the Earth. Satellites are becoming sharper, and in-field techniques (drones, time-lapse cameras) are becoming cheaper and easier to deploy. My research tests whether these technologies are useful in future monitoring, and hazard prediction, of mountain glaciers in Peru. Traditionally, mountain glaciers are very difficult to observe (they’re small, cloudy, steep, and tricky to access) but some of these new techniques might be genuinely useful for monitoring the rapid melt of this ice.

 What did you wish you knew before starting a PhD? 

Keeping in check with your mental health is so important. Take breaks, get involved with the wider PGR community, and talk regularly with your supervisors. It’s important to build up a support network (that doesn’t have to be academic!) that you can lean on in tricky days.

Follow Liam on Twitter

and read his blog ‘A Wild Geographer‘.