Name: Claire Guimond

Hometown: Toronto, Canada

Extracurricular interests: Music, particularly experimental rock, and College rowing having started as a complete novice

Postgraduate degree: PhD in Earth Science

Life before Catz

“I completed an undergraduate degree and two-year MSc at McGill University in Canada. My BSc was on Earth Systems Science – the larger scale processes that happen on Earth to enable it to regulate itself. My supervisor was a challenging influence on my academic career and I had to proactively convince them that I was right to pursue a PhD.”

Life at Catz

“I didn’t really know much about the collegiate system in Cambridge before arriving at Catz, but Catz has fortunately turned out to be a really good fit for me. As a smaller-than-average College, it is easier to meet new people and get involved in new activities, like weekly discussion groups about equality. Another great example has been learning to row: since there were fewer students at Catz competing for boats, I enjoyed lots of opportunities to train and even rowed in the W1 boat during Lent Bumps.”

Postgraduate studies 

“My research is trying to answer how exoplanets might be Earth-like and understand what ‘Earth-like’ actually means. Ultimately, we don’t really know how unique our own planet might be: there are many, many Earth-sized planets but what else can we know about them? I’m looking at geodynamics – how the interior processes of a planet might affect the surface character.”

The Harding Distinguished Postgraduate Scholars Programme

“Coming to Cambridge would not have been tenable for me as an overseas student without securing full funding. The experiences in a Department can be quite narrowly focused so it is also nice to be part of a cohort of Scholars across a range of different disciplines feels. I hope to make use of the research allowance by attending conferences online or when it is safe to do so again in person.”

Advice for undergraduates thinking of applying for postgraduate studies

“Before applying for a PhD, I’d encourage anyone to take the time to go to conferences and meet current PhD students, who are doing what you want to do. Ask yourself if you can see yourself in in their shoes. Even if you are not presenting, conferences and other scientific meetings are great exposure to the latest developments in your field – you get the chance to experience first-hand what issues are driving scientific debates and find out where you want to focus your attention during a PhD.”