Name: Jayne Elizabeth Simmons

Field of Work: Exploration

Place of Birth: Twillingate, Newfoundland

Age: 25

Job title: Geophysicist

So you love math and physics, but have you ever wondered what you can really do with all those equations? You could be a teacher or an academic, or you could combine them with your interest in the outdoors and travel (i.e. helicopters) to have a career in geophysics!

Geophysicists like Jayne use math and physics every day for things like studying earthquakes and finding diamond deposits underground. They even get to hike as part of their work. If that sounds pretty great to you, read Jayne Simmons' profile to learn more!

What is a geophysicist?

A geophysicist is someone who measures, examines, and explores the physical properties of the earth. This involves using physics to determine the properties of the subsurface (below the earth’s surface).

What is a typical day like for you?

I am currently working at a company where I study microseismic data created by faint earth tremors. I look at data and use the arrivals of P and S waves to locate microseismic events. Where the microseismic events are located will influence how well oil can pass through a bedrock. My previous work in geophysics involved mineral exploration, and I would get up every single day and hike (with a magnetometer and Global Positioning System) and use my data at the end of the day to make maps of magnetic fields. These maps can be used to locate diamonds and/or several types of platinum group metals. So as a geophysicist, you could be working in an office or exploring the world!

Did you always want to be a geophysicist?

Definitely not. I’m sure for a very long time, I had no idea what a geophysicist even was. It could have been rocket science for all I knew (by the way, geophysics is not rocket science!). I did a BSc in Math before entering the geophysics program and had always planned to be a math teacher.

What courses in high school prepared you for this field?

Mathematics, Physics, Geology, and Chemistry.

Where did you go to university/college?

Memorial University of Newfoundland

How did you decide where to go?

Memorial has excellent facilities and is number 1 in the country for research funding growth. Tuition prices are very reasonable. Plus I’m from Newfoundland, so for me, it was an easy decision.

Was there extra training required for this career after you finished college/university? If so, what?

When you choose a career in math and sciences, you never really stop learning. However, most additional training courses I have relate to safety. You usually need these courses to just get “on site”. I have hydrogen sulphide (H2S) training (H2S is a dangerous gas, often encountered in the Petroleum industry), Workplace Hazardous Materials Information System (WHMIS) training, Petroleum Safety Training, and, naturally, first-aid training.

What is the coolest part of your job?

I get to travel, a lot! I’ve been all over North America, even far up north in Nunavut. I’ve seen the Arctic Ocean and lots of animals like grizzly bears, muskox and caribou. I’ve stayed in tents for weeks on end, and hike all day and explore. It’s exciting. Ooo, don`t forget helicopters.

What’s the worst part of your job?

Hours and hours of data processing. Face time with my computer! Too much is never a good thing.

What’s the salary range for this particular job and field?

Between $45,000 and $150,000+ depending on your experience and the state of the economy.

Ooooops! Everyone makes mistakes so what was the dumbest thing you've ever done at work?

While carrying out a magnetic survey with a friend, I gave her my GPS so she could walk ahead of me to beat a path in the snow. I was carrying the magnetometer and the data had to be synced via time using the GPS locations (from my GPS!). (So the map would be completely wrong once the GPS location was synced with the magnetometer readings), the whole afternoon was wasted before we realized what we had done!

Any advice that you would give others seeking a similar career?

Be stubborn, and don’t let people discourage you along your journey. I didn’t know how I was going to get to where I am, because sometimes the courses were really tough. But I did have a lot of confidence that I would get through it. Also, pick up as many science and math courses as you can stand! Learn as much about earth sciences as possible. Geologists and geophysicists work together, and knowing more about geology will make you a better geophysicist.

If you had to be a vegetable, what would it be and why?

I would be a potato. I believe potatoes are resilient and I think I’m pretty resilient. Also, my dad grows them out of fish pans, so that’s resilient in and of itself.

Meat. Yes or no?

Yes, especially “Muska-boutine” (Muskox/Caribou Poutine) if you find yourself in Yellowknife, N.W.T.

Choose a sandwich: peanut butter and jelly or peanut butter and banana?

Well, it would have to be PB&J. I ate only PB&J’s for a week straight while out in the field, once.

What’s one thing you can’t do but really want to be able to?

I really want to know how to fly a helicopter, if only for just one day!

What’s your biggest pet peeve?

People spelling my name incorrectly. Spelling errors in general. Step one to becoming a geophysicist is learning how to spell “geophysicist”.

Allyson Tighe

I completed my BSc and MSc at The University of Western Ontario, and am now a scientific writer and editorial assistant in Toronto. I am an expert risotto maker, a decidedly non-expert runner, and a WeatherNetwork junkie.



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