Elaine Mawbey

Favourite Thing: Look down a microscope at a new sea floor sample to discover what is in there! (hopefully lots of fossils)



HNC Chemistry (Huddersfield), BSc Geology (Leeds) MSC Geochemistry (Leeds) PhD (Cardiff)


Work History:

Too many places to list! I worked part time during my degrees and have since worked at Cardiff and Bristol Uni.

Current Job:

Post-doctoral research assistant


University of Bristol

Me and my work

Measuring the chemistry of little tiny fossils to find out how climate changed in the past.

My Typical Day

Chatting to other scientists, looking for fun fossils under the microscope and measuring fossil chemistry using big machines.

In a typical day I might “pick some samples” this involves separating the fossils I am interested in analysing from the rest of the sample. These tiny little fossils then get crushed (it doesn’t hurt them because they are dead), dissolved in acid and then I analyse them in a machine called a mass spectrometer. This machine tells me what different chemicals are in the fossils (forams) and how much of each. I then use this information to try and work out what the temperature of the oceans where the fossils came from were like in the past.

What I'd do with the money

Donate it to a outreach program who are designing a computer game based on the Natural History Museum.

My Interview

How would you describe yourself in 3 words?

curious, environmentalist, kind

Who is your favourite singer or band?

The Foo Fighters

What's your favourite food?

Pizza of course, what could compare…….

What is the most fun thing you've done?

camping in the Grand Canyon with some amazing friends.

What did you want to be after you left school?

I wanted to be a scientist or work towards protecting the environment……

Were you ever in trouble at school?

Not really I was always trying to keep up.

What was your favourite subject at school?


What's the best thing you've done as a scientist?

Helped university students train to become scientists.

What or who inspired you to become a scientist?

Scully from the X Files (I am such a geek it is actually scary)

If you weren't a scientist, what would you be?

A conservationist

If you had 3 wishes for yourself what would they be? - be honest!

Stay happy, stay healthy and make a contribution to society.

Tell us a joke.

Why did the crab blush? because the seaweed!!!!!

Other stuff

Work photos: