Michael Lawson

Programme: BSc in Environmental Science (2005); PhD in Isotope Geochemistry

Graduation: 2010

Employment: Research Geochemist at ExxonMobil Upstream Research Company

I enjoyed the opportunity to work with the top people in my field.

My work

“I am now in the Upstream Research Company in Houston, Texas, looking at innovative ways of answering key questions in hydrocarbon exploration, production and development. We assess new techniques and applications in geochemistry and develop more traditional technologies to answer questions from our business units that are critical to understanding where to drill, what the quality of oil or gas is likely to be and what challenges we may face in getting the oil and gas out of the ground.

“The opportunities are massive at a company like ExxonMobil. At the minute I have the opportunity to apply cutting edge technology to really interesting challenges that have a big impact on the way we do things. I get to attend international conferences and scope out interesting and exciting geochemistry to identify future areas of research for our group. Training is first rate and the chance to work with really smart people from a diverse range of backgrounds is second to none.

PhD pusuits

“Throughout the course of my PhD I actively pursued diverse collaborations and projects that were not necessarily part of my research project. This is something I would encourage anyone interested in research to do.

“I attended numerous international conferences and took every opportunity possible to give talks about my research. As a result of this I developed a large network both within my research field and in other areas of geochemistry that I am now benefiting from and developing in my new position at ExxonMobil. The ability to communicate, both through talks and in written formats, is a crucial skill for any position within industry or academia and these are skill that both of my supervisors at Manchester encouraged I work on and develop.

“During my studies I enjoyed the opportunity to work with the top people in my field, to listen to external speakers visiting Manchester and the excellent analytical facilities on offer at the University.

Manchester memories

“The broad range of geochemistry skills developed in my undergrad (also at Manchester) and my PhD have given me a solid platform to understand and be able to contribute to numerous requests we receive. Confidence in delivering talks (gained through giving numerous talks at conferences) has really helped me to get my message across to business units when geochemistry is not their native language.

“The School has a great atmosphere at Manchester – all of the faculty and students get along and socialise, which is really important when you are going to spend the next few years of your life living and working with them.

“I’d encourage anyone to make the most of doing research at Manchester by agreeing to working on what may seem like unrelated projects. These actually give you a much broader knowledge than you would otherwise have and the people you work with may be the ones that help get you a position in academia or industry in the future. Networking outside of the group at conferences is really useful – these are the people that you will see year in year out at conferences, so it’s nice to know a friendly face should you ever move on to another University later in your career.

“Most of all, enjoy your time at Manchester – it’s a great city.”

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