Dr Andrew McPherson


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Earthquake Geologist

Dr Andrew McPherson Describe some daily tasks that you complete in your position

I spend a reasonable amount of time looking at digital elevation models (DEMs) and visible imagery (e.g. Google Earth) to identify fault scarps. These small (usually 1-2 m) ‘steps’ in the landscape can indicate where earthquakes large enough to break the ground surface have occurred in the past. We can use this information to help understand how large future earthquakes might be. Based on the work we do I also produce reports and papers for publication, and provide advice to internal and external clients. I work with colleagues elsewhere in the building, interstate and overseas, and occasionally travel to attend conferences or undertake fieldwork.

What is it that you find most enjoyable/challenging/rewarding about your position?

Like so many others who find themselves working in the sciences, I love knowing "stuff"! Being given the opportunity to go and find out new things about the world around us is a privilege, especially when you contribute to solving problems that help others in their everyday lives, whether they know it or not.

Describe your career pathway(s) that led you to where you are today?

In my last two years at school I was all geared up to start a chef's apprenticeship, but when that didn't happen I had to look at other options. I had always been interested in the world around me, so, being unsure what to do, I started studying subjects such as geography and science. This led me to complete a degree in Resource and Environmental Science, which I followed with an Honours year project in Regolith Geology. Subsequently I worked as a spatial (GIS) analyst, soil scientist, and natural resource scientist (looking at land use change over time) before returning to university to complete a PhD in Quaternary and Regolith Studies. This combination of skills and experience enabled me to work at Geoscience Australia. Since being here the majority of my time has been spent researching various natural hazards in Australia, including tsunami, bushfire, landslide and particularly earthquake.

What formal/educational training have you completed?

B. App. Sci. (Resource and Environmental Science), B. App. Sci. Honors (Regolith Geology), Certificate IV in Asset Management (GIS Practices), Ph.D. (Quaternary and Regolith Studies).

Dr Andrew McPhersonWhat are the benefits of working at Geoscience Australia?

Geoscience Australia is Australia's national geoscience agency and has many staff who are leaders in their field, both nationally and internationally. This provides opportunities to learn from some of the best in the business. The organisation provides a variety of interesting work in a building full of friendly, helpful and knowledgeable people. Best of all, I occasionally get to do fieldwork, which often means visiting places that I’ve never been to, or seeing ones that I am familiar with from a completely new perspective.

Topic contact: recruitment@ga.gov.au Last updated: June 17, 2013