Deborah Cotton

Meet...Deborah Cotton

Climate physics
Atmospheric, Oceanic and Planetary Physics

We work among extraordinary people doing extraordinary things; get to know some of them by reading these quick-fire interviews.

Name: Deborah Cotton
Job title: DPhil student in Environmental Research

What are you currently working on?
I am part of the Atmospheric, Oceanic and Planetary Physics (AOPP) subdepartment and am interested in ice-ocean interactions. I am currently looking at modelling a type of ice called frazil ice which forms in supercooled, turbulent water. This ice is particularly prominent in some of the waters surrounding Antarctica. When ice forms in the ocean, the density and salinity of the surrounding water increases, with the magnitude of the change being sensitive to the type of ice. I am working to understand the effect of frazil ice on the ocean.

Describe a typical day
I am part of the University Triathlon Club so I tend to wake up quite early to do some form of exercise before going to work. I usually get into the office between 9-9.30am. The day is normally a mix of coding, writing and some pen and paper calculations. Some days of the week I teach in the afternoon or we have group meetings where we share current results and questions we have. I usually leave around 5/5.30pm. In the evenings I either do some more sport, see friends or have some church-related activity.

Occasionally my day looks quite different if I am at a conference or event. Recently I presented a poster in Parliament for the STEM for Britain final. This was an opportunity to present part of my research to MPs and researchers in other fields. It was a great chance to talk to MPs about why ice matters and to learn from other scientists who I would not normally interact with.

If you had an entire day at your disposal (not at work), what would be your ideal way to spend it? 
A long bike ride with some excellent café stops.

What is your favourite place in Oxford?
In winter, sunrise over Magdalen bridge on a cold and misty morning. In the summer it would be Port Meadow or Aston’s Eyot.

Plan B: what would you be if you weren’t doing the job you are currently doing? 
Probably some form of research in industry involving as much physics as possible.