This week’s Scientist Spotlight features Angharad Jones, the collections officer at Creswell Crags Museum and Heritage Center in the United Kingdom. Our Scientist Spotlight series features STEM professionals who volunteer in our pen pal program, Letters to a Pre-Scientist.
Angharad, like many others, didn’t know that she wanted to pursue a career in STEM until after she started her undergraduate degree. Before entering her university, Angharad didn’t have much career guidance. She thought that since her favorite subject was geography, she should be a geography teacher. Once Angharad realized that there are so many different career options in physical geography, she decided to explore new career options and continued her education after obtaining her undergraduate degree to ultimately pursue a career researching past environments.
What is something everyone gets wrong about your job or line of work?
I don’t think people get things wrong, more that people don’t really know what I do. I think many people don’t really consider the ‘behind-the-scenes’ work in a museum. Most of the objects in museums are not on display in the galleries. Someone has to look after these objects and allow people access to them, all the while ensuring that they are preserved for the future. Here at Creswell Crags, that’s my job. I am also really keen to disseminate information about the objects, particularly via social media and tours of the collections store, so more people can see and learn about what the museum holds.
What is the best or coolest part about your job? What keeps you excited about your work?
There are many things I love about my job. Mostly, it’s getting to work with the bones of animals (some of them extinct!) that lived thousands of years ago. I have to remind myself how cool it is to hold something that old! Also, my colleagues are so nice and incredibly good at what they do – it’s a pleasure to work with them.
Why do you participate in LPS? Why is outreach important to you?
One reason I participate is because I enjoy it. I have had two brilliant and interesting pen pals, and I love reading their letters and responding to them. Another reason is that LPS and other outreach allows school students the chance to learn things and experience opportunities that they may otherwise not have been able to access. I also hope that students gain enjoyment from these experiences.
Can you tell us about a challenge you faced and how you overcame it?
Money was a big challenge for me. In the UK, students can receive a loan from the government to pursue an undergraduate degree. However, to do a master’s degree, at the time, there was no government funding. I received an offer of a place on a master’s degree but couldn’t afford to accept it. After getting over my disappointment, I found a job working in a bank. I did as much overtime as I could and saved up as much as I could so that when I applied again for the master’s course, and I could finally afford to accept my place.
What do you like to do for fun?
I love photography (I’ll be sharing some photos of Creswell Crags and the items in themuseum). I’ve been taking Ballroom and Latin American dancing classes since I was a child. I enjoy the dancing itself, and I also like the social aspect as I have been attending the same dance school for more than 20 years and the people there are lovely. I also love to read a wide variety of books.