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Claire Orlov

Geoscientist

Claire Orlov was “into everything” at school, but she settled on geology and now as a geoscientist and researcher studying Mars gets to be creative every day

At school, Claire was into sport, art, design, history and science, among many other things! 

“For most of my time at school I wanted to be a fashion or costume designer, or maybe an artist, but by the time I was in my final year I’d really switched gears and I knew I wanted to be a geologist,” Claire says. 

Now, she studies volcanoes for a living in a job that’s both creative and tech-driven, which goes to show that science careers can combine diverse interest areas.  

At work, Claire spends her days trying to map and understand the geology of Mars using satellite imagery. 

“Specifically, I look at faults we can see on the surface to try and understand how and when a huge volcanic area of Mars developed. This is because, unlike Earth, Mars doesn’t have plate tectonics, so other forces like giant volcanoes are responsible for the structures we see.”

For Claire, geology is inherently creative, but in her role she also gets to flex her artistic side  making maps and figures.

“I love spatial data and I think it’s because I like seeing things in a visual way. Any time I read information as data, I automatically want to see it on a map as that’s where it makes sense to me.”

“It’s not something that has black and white answers which is great, and also frustrating, because it’s hard to come to a single truth. But that’s where creative thinking is involved.”

Claire gets to do fieldwork in amazing places, from outback Australia to the lava fields of Iceland.

Her advice to students considering a science career is to envisage the lifestyle you want, not the job title.

She also says being interested in lots of things is a strength, not a weakness: “Don’t worry that you don’t have a single big passion, or feel like you have to pick just one thing and stick with it forever!”

Claire’s study and career pathway to becoming a geoscientist

  • Bachelor of Science (Geology), University of NSW
  • Geoscientist, Geoscience Australia
  • PhD in planetary geoscience, University of Leeds

This article was originally published in Careers with STEM: Science.

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