Despite never having been a full-time academic,  Jennifer Huggett (Geology 1978) achieved 60 publications by the time she was 60.  A scientist in her family recommended that she should study at Imperial and she hasn't looked back since. Jennifer found Imperial to be an inspiring place to learn and helped her prepare for her career. 

How did you find life at Imperial as a woman?

"OK, but that is probably because I realised the need to walk a thin line between being too much one of the lads and putting myself out of reach. It was harder in the 70s because there were so few girls in the RSM, and sexism was the norm, even from the staff. We had lecturers who thought we shouldn’t be there. Fortunately I made a very strong friendship with one of the other girls on my course, who was a bit more experienced of the world than I was. I was a very innocent 18 year old."

What did you learn during your time at Imperial, in class or out?

"Apart from a lot of geology (of course!), I learnt to spot a circular argument, I learnt that a lot of young men are not as clever as they try to sound, I discovered that the best scientists can be the worst teachers so made a point of getting extra help with their subjects. Out of class I learnt a lot about wine and music and learnt that I hate living in a big city."

Who did you find inspiring at Imperial and why?

"I found Doug Shearman, Harry Shaw, Peter Bush and Graham Evans the most inspiring lecturers, especially Doug, who gave his lectures as if they were exciting stories."

What is your fondest memory of your time here?

"Possibly my 6 weeks field mapping in Southern Spain, the country had only just emerged from Franco’s iron fist and was very behind the rest of Europe."

How has what you learnt at Imperial helped you in your career so far?

"I opted for the broad based degree, and have always enjoyed being able to follow, up to a point, what other types of geologists do and talk about."

Please tell us a bit about the work you’re doing now...

"I have been a freelance consultant, specialising in clastic petrography and clay mineralogy in particular since 1990. These days there is not much work around, but I’ve made enough during the good years, when I had to work very hard, that I can afford to take it easy now. I’ve always had lots of other interests, not least continuing research into sedimentary petrology and clays in particular, and I have never wanted to be posted around the world by a company, hence the self employment. The consultancy has always helped pay for the research because the latter has been unfunded. That’s been good for me as the research is entirely of my own choosing, and keeps my brain working. Consultancy can be very repetitive."

Is there anything else you’d like to share?

"If you are very independently minded, don’t work for a big company. I did for 7 years and hated it."