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Petterson returns to Leicester


Mike PettersonMike Petterson is a shoe-in at Leicester University, writes Dwain Eldred.

Geoscientist Online 15 April 2009

Dr Michael Petterson, recently of the British Geological Survey, has been appointed Professor of Applied and Environmental Geology at Leicester University, his alma mater.

Professor Petterson told Geoscientist Online: “I was a graduate and PhD postgraduate at Leicester, so it feels a little surreal , though very exciting, to return to one of my ‘points of origin’. I take over a chair in applied and environmental geosciences within the Geology Department. There is already plenty of activity in this area and one of my first jobs is to learn what Leicester is involved with and see where I can best fit in. I am really looking forward to working with the great range of talent and expertise present at the University of Leicester, not only with geosciences but, hopefully, collaborating with a range researchers and workers from different disciplines.

“Personal research interests I would like to explore include the link between metals, magmas and tectonics, natural hazards and communities, applying geosciences to real (as opposed to purely rhetorical) sustainable development, improving quality of life in the Developing World, and seeking and promoting opportunities for science and social science to interface within a meaningful dialogue, adding value to each others’ approach, research and impact.”

After leaving Leicester Professor Petterson had a short period school teaching before landing a position with the British Geological Survey (BGS), a research institute part-funded by NERC and part-funded from many other sources. He said: “I began work in the Lake District mapping volcanic rocks and applying this knowledge with respect to nuclear waste decommissioning solutions. I moved onto working in the Developing world in the fields of primary scientific research, institutional strengthening and very practical aid, educational and poverty-alleviation related work.

Mike Petterson “I was lucky enough to live with my family in the Pacific and South America and have worked in shorter spells throughout Asia, parts of Africa and the Caribbean. My most recent international work has involved working in Afghanistan (2003 – 2007) and on the Montserrat volcano in the Caribbean.

“The highlights of my career have involved numerous scientific ‘eureka’ moments but also include particularly human moments such as working with indigenous communities on volcanic hazards, helping people come to terms with gold mining, seeing numerous scientists grow, develop and make an impact, reflecting on the great hardships of people living with tremendous poverty, seeing a country torn apart by 30 years of war slowly being reborn, and sadly, seeing very brave Afghan Ministers and advisers I have worked with being killed trying to progress things towards a better future."

Petterson is also an Honorary Researcher at BGS and Peshawar University, sits on several NERC-HQ committees, is Chair of Governors at a Rutland comprehensive school, and "enjoys playing rock and blues guitar with like-minded fun-loving musicians".