Tuesday, 20 August 2013

Introducing Hayley Fowler

Hayley is the scientist behind our Climate Change and Extreme Weather comic strip. Hayley worked with artist Adam Murphy. It was great fun!

Who are you?
I am Professor of Climate Change Impacts in the School of Civil Engineering and Geosciences at Newcastle University. I look at changing weather patterns, extreme rainfall and flooding mainly but in my spare time I love climbing, running and road biking and have two little boys (4 and 2).

What have you done / what are you doing?
I have been at Newcastle University since doing an MSc here in 1997. I became a Professor last year. Originally I was a Geographer (at Cambridge University). I have always been interested in how things work - both natural processes (Geography) and man-made (Engineering). I made the move into Civil Engineering during my MSc as I wanted to be able to find solutions to problems as well as understand processes! Currently I am looking at how heavy rainfall events might change in the UK in the future - particularly those that cause flash flooding in the summer - like the Toon Monsoon on 28th June last year. I also love communicating science - whether to the public/children, other academics or industry/government - you might see me in the Movies at the Monument this summer talking about using social media in science, or catch me giving the Joseph Lister Award Lecture at the British Science Festival on Wed 11 September, 2pm. Northern Stage - Climate change, extreme rainfall and flooding: what is happening to our weather?

What excites you about comics?
I was an avid Beano and Dandy reader as a kid, moving on to Asterix, Calvin and Hobbes and then The Far Side. I like the simplicity of comics. Important messages and concepts can be brought across clearly and simply but with great impact as you have the visual message as well as the words. They are also usually funny and I like the wry take on life that comics tend to bring. Using visual media is going to become more and more important in teaching and learning in the computer age and comics could be an important part of that.

What excites you about science?
What has always excited me about science is doing experiments or building computer models to find out how things work, what causes certain things to happen? At the moment I am very excited about finding out (for the first time) what might happen to summer heavy rainfall events in the future - we have tantalising results that show that these might intensify from our work with the Met Office - and also how the Himalayas might be affected by climate change - it is a really important water resource (from melting snow and ice) for a large proportion of the world's population. These are some of the big questions I think about.

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