Corinne Le Quere Corinne Le Quere

Corinne Le Quere right

I am a Royal Society Research Professor of Climate Change Science and former Director of the Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research. I conduct research on the interactions between climate change and the carbon cycle. I worked at UEA since 2005. Initially my post was jointly with the British Antarctic Survey in Cambridge.  View Corinne's Staff Page


What inspired you to pursue a career in environmental sciences? 

I chose to research the interactions between climate change and the carbon cycle because I really liked the rapidly moving science and the fact that I would be working on a topic that has direct implications for society. It took me a while to find this topic though. At university I initially studied anthropology, then physics (with a brief episode on astrophysics), then meteorology, to finally settle on Earth Sciences through a series of decisions that mostly followed the inspiration of the moment. I didn’t have a grand plan. There are no scientists in my family. I just drifted into it because it was fun and satisfying. 

Who has encouraged you along the way?

I’ve always had the chance to have mentors that have looked out for me with their advice and wisdom. Many senior professors in ENV have helped me along the way, actively promoting my career internally and externally. This has been critical for me, to avoid traps and open opportunities. In part I have been lucky, in part I have knocked on doors at difficult moments – and found them wide open. 

What do you most enjoy about your job?

I like the fact that everyday is different and I have a lot of control on what I do. I can choose my research projects and my collaborators, be they local, national or international. I can try out new ideas, take risks. This is a very stimulating job, that progresses along with my own interests. I am never bored. 

What do you particularly appreciate or enjoy about working in ENV?

There is a broad range of interesting people working here and the juxtaposition of disciplines, from natural sciences to social sciences, including geography and economics, makes for a stimulating environment. ENV is also very supportive of science-society interactions and promotes informed decision-making in society. I like this. I think it adds value to my work and it gives me a sense of accomplishment in the long term. 

How easy is it to achieve the balance you would like between an interesting career and your other responsibilities and interests?

I was a single parent for 10 years. Handling a demanding career as a single parent was not easy, but I have been surprised how often people went out of their way to help out. Be it for fixing meeting dates that met my very tight schedule or for helping with overnight babysitting or sick child care, I’ve had lots of help. In fact, one of the most difficult parts for me has been to accept all this help, most of which I could never pay back, at least not directly. But being a single mother with a career made me feel fulfilled, and I always thought it was both good for me and good for my child. Now she is grown up with a career of her own which she loves. Job done, phew. It’s her with me in the picture, during a recent holiday. I love this picture. 

What advice would you give someone thinking about a career in science?

Trust yourself. Be patient. Learn to master your imposter syndrome (most scientists have it, especially women). Celebrate small steps. Take risks. Seek support when you need it (inside and outside work). Maintain networks of trusts. Enjoy! It has worked for me.