Katie Pearson shares her experience as a UEA graduate

Since graduating in 2003, Katie Pearson (BSc Environmental Sciences with a Year in Europe) is directly applying the skills and knowledge she gained from her course to her successful career in hydrology.

Photo of Katie Pearson smiling

Did you enjoy studying environmental sciences at UEA?

After deciding I wanted to study environmental sciences, there was no other choice but UEA! I was impressed by the very strong reputation for teaching and research, and after visiting the campus for an open day, I knew it was for me. The course was demanding and I worked very hard, but have definitely seen the benefits. There were lots of modules to choose from, which meant I could tailor the degree exactly how I wanted. I didn't particularly specialise and took a wide range of subjects which gave me a chance to be taught by lots of different people and try lots of field trips. I spent my third year studying at Umea University in the north of Sweden. The opportunity to spend a year studying abroad was one of the reasons I selected the course, and it was a chance to take some different modules and experience another culture.

What did you think about the teaching on your course?

The timetable was full and intense but there was a good mix of teaching styles which meant it never seemed boring. I particularly enjoyed the practical classes and fieldwork opportunities which provided a chance to work with other students, lecturers and researchers in groups. It was inspiring to be taught by lecturers with such strong international reputations.

Tell us how you got your first job after university and what that role involved

I applied for a number of jobs as a hydrologist in the summer after I graduated at university and accepted the offer I had from Capita Symonds, one of the top engineering consultancy firms. The first project I was involved with was the preparation of the Environmental Statement and Flood Risk Assessment to accompany the planning application supporting London's bid for the 2012 Olympics. It was very exciting to be involved in planning meetings for the London Olympics just a few months after graduating.

What job are you doing now?

I work as a hydrologist in the Flood Risk and Water Management team of Capita Symonds. I am currently working on two projects for the Environment Agency – one managing a flood risk mapping study on the River Leven, and the other a large flood forecasting project which involves developing new rainfall runoff models to improve the Environment Agency's flood warning service. During my time with Capita Symonds I have been lucky enough to have opportunities to work in other organisations. In 2006 I spent 12 months working for WBM in Brisbane, Australia working on 2D flood modelling projects, and in 2009 I spent six months working in the Environment Agency Midlands Region Flood Forecasting team developing my skills in real time flood forecasting modelling.

Has your course helped you in your career so far?

It has helped me in my career by giving me a well rounded education in the environmental sciences and an understanding of the interactions between environmental issues in the real world. I studied a wide range of modules at UEA covering topics including hydrology, soil science, countryside management, pollution and toxicology, ecology and geochemistry. I also think that a lot of my transferable communication and presentation skills were developed at UEA, together with an ability to think for myself, research and investigate.