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Murray Edwards College
University of Cambridge

Q&A: Physical Natural Sciences

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Dr Alexander Piotrowski 

At Murray Edwards College, I am a Director of Studies for the Physical Natural Sciences and also for Earth Sciences. I am also a Graduate Tutor to a group of 30-40 PhD and MPhil students.

I research palaeoclimate in the Department of Earth Sciences, and I am also Course Director for the second-year IB Earth Sciences A course. My research focuses on understanding the ocean-climate link by reconstructing past changes in deep ocean circulation using chemical tracers, primarily neodymium (Nd) isotopes. Ocean circulation is a critical component of the Earth’s climate system, controlling global heat transport and the amount of carbon dioxide stored in the deep ocean. By measuring records in sediment cores we can reconstruct past changes in deep ocean circulation changes relative to major shifts in the climate system, particularly carbon storage in abyssal water masses.

What's special about Physical Natural Sciences at Cambridge? 

My research is actually on the Natural Sciences. I examine how physical, chemical, and biological processes are linked through the Earth's climate system. Important scientific advances can be made across the interfaces between the traditional science subjects; studying Natural Sciences at Cambridge gives you the academic breadth so that you can make these inter-disciplinary connections. 

How does Murray Edwards College support its Physical Natural Sciences students? 

I find it satisfying to guide our students to help them find what they enjoy learning, and what they are good at. We are always rooting for our students to succeed and share the joy of their accomplishments with them. 

What do you enjoy most about working at Murray Edwards College?

I enjoy the modern and bright environment, the beautiful gardens and the friendly people. I also appreciate the way being a young College encourages us to innovate rather than rely on traditions.