Contaminated Land Group: Supporting early career professionals

Formed in 2017, the Contaminated Land Group is our newest Specialist Group, with the aim of bringing together the different specialisms which work together in the investigation and management of contaminated land. Molly Brown and Sarah Hey are both members of the group’s early career sub-committee, which organised the meeting ‘Contaminated land and groundwater: resources, past and future’ in Manchester earlier this year. In this guest post, they explain more about the ways in which the Group is championing early careers professionals.

The Contaminated Land Group was the first specialist group of the Geological Society to create a dedicated early career sub-committee. One of our main aims is to champion early career professionals by offering encouragement and support towards chartership and allowing their ideas and successes to be shared among peers and directors alike. This includes making conferences and meetings more accessible to a less highly technical audience, whilst giving them the opportunity to present their work or research to the wider public. This started with our first major conference – the Janet Watson Meeting. This was held at Burlington House in November 2017 and was geared towards early careers professionals. Following positive feedback and great reviews, we built on the successes of the Janet Watson Meeting to run our 2018 conference, which was titled Contaminated Land and Groundwater: Resources, Past and Future.

In order to make the event more accessible to early career professionals in the north, it was held at Manchester University within the University Place building. The day comprised a series of informative and engaging talks from industry seniors and early careers professionals; this is another of the great ways we are supporting early careers. The day also contained three interactive workshops, which were a fantastic opportunity for delegates to get involved and share ideas and advice, offer best practice guidance and receive training, which counts towards Continuous Professional Development (CPD) for those working towards chartership.

Another way we continued in our goal to champion early career professionals at our event was to hold an early careers poster competition. We received many high quality entries, which were reduced to four finalists who all received a free delegate place and the chance to present an interesting and innovative project they had each worked on, to an audience of over 120 delegates. All posters were well made, eye catching and informative, and each of our finalists were enthusiastic and charismatic presenters – it certainly was tough to pick a winner! Voting was done in our interactive session and a big congratulations goes to our winner, Clare Lucas (Arup) for her excellent poster on the use of 3D digital models for characterisation of a former landfill site and contamination assessment of a key groundwater resource.

Lastly, an interactive polling session was held to end the day, offering an opportunity to receive feedback and perhaps some light entertainment too! We received some encouraging feedback and some things to improve including holding more events outside of London and to encourage networking among peers.  We pride ourselves on enjoyable and more accessible events which bring together a wide range of industry professionals and we are keen to act on any feedback provided to make our events even better in the future.

We would like to thank our sponsors ALS, Ambisense, enitial and Regenesis for their generous support, without which the event would not be possible. It was a pleasure to run such a successful conference and it is greatly encouraging to know that through our events we are achieving our goal of championing early careers professionals.

We have learned that running events outside of London is expensive, but rewarding, and looking to the future, we plan to hold some smaller, more informal events in the new year… so watch this space!

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