Geo Profiles: Associate Professor Ingrid Anell
Updated: Dec 15, 2021
A new section is born for the NSRG, intended to celebrate the individual geoscientist working on sedimentology in the Nordic region. We plan to interview a sedimentologist, willing to tell a cool story about who they are, how they ended up where they are today and any advice they wish to impart to our community.
For our first Geo Profile we reached out to Ingrid Anell who was recently awarded an Associate Professorship position at the University of Oslo. Congratulations, Ingrid!
What made you decide to become a geoscientist?
I studied geography in high-school and in physical geography we did 3 of the "spheres" including the lithosphere where we learned about continental plates and volcanoes. I became fascinated with natural disasters, the supreme forces of nature to which mankind was so vulnerable and powerless. I wanted to pursue volcanology (it's a cliche I know, 90% of geologists seem to start out this way) and actually focused on mineralogy and petrology for my Masters and went to Iceland for my research project.
Ingrid in her element at Capitol Reef National Park in Utah with with Early Jurassic rocks from the Glen Canyon Group in the background: the aeolian Wingate Sandstone overlain by the braided stream, flood-plain and lake deposits of the Kayenta Formation. The light-coloured sandstone unit above is aeolian deposits of the Navajo Sandstone.
What do you enjoy the most in your career?
Many things. The variability between tasks such as research, teaching, supervision, field-work, outreach. The flexibility of changing what you're working with dependent on where the momentum is, not getting too stuck in a track that isn't going anywhere that day. The independence and chance to pursue things that interest you, contributing to knowledge that wasn't there before. Also, being able to work in the field has always been a major driver in my career path, I am at my absolute happiest when I get to scale an outcrop and have lunch in the sun.
Ingrid getting up close and personal with the prograding delta-front sandstones of the Panther Tongue Member outside Helper, Utah.
What are the topics you are currently interested in researching about?
I'm very interested in clinoforms, I think they're amazing structures that develop on so many scales and in so many variations, I am trying to figure out what controls the geometries that develop. This also links to research within onshore-offshore linkage of sedimentary systems in terms of scales and sediment distribution working with synthetic seismic, sedimentary characteristics and seismic attributes. I also have a keen interest in sedimentary structures, in particular in mixed energy process regimes and moving towards a more comprehensive and standardized facies association understanding. Within this area of research I also hope to expand to work more within environmental sedimentology, in particular micro-plastics and how sedimentary environments contribute to accumulation and dispersal. I also work in CCS (Carbon Capture and Storage) in particular the impact of sediment heterogeneity on reservoir and overburden.
" I find Richard Fortey a big inspiration in his ability to write about geosciences in such an approachable and engaging manner. He really captivates the essence of what I love about geology."
Who or what inspires you?
That's a big one, and there are so many. Different people at different times I think. I find Richard Fortey a big inspiration in his ability to write about geosciences in such an approachable and engaging manner. He really captivates the essence of what I love about geology. Chris Jackson is huge inspiration because he's brilliant and successful but also speaks his mind, I wish I was half as brave in expressing myself. Perhaps another cliche, but outside of geology I found Malala Yousafzai to be a very inspiring person having read her book. I think we could all hope to be just a smidge as selfless and passionate at her age. Jacinda Ardern, prime minister in New Zealand, I happen to love New Zealand but then I'm also blown away by women who can lead a country, during a pandemic, while pregnant and birthing your child (I was personally happy if I found time to put on pants when I was in midst of having babies). Would be amiss if I didn't jot down Greta Thunberg here as well, I just love how one smart, independent well-spoken 16-year old started a motion across the globe by skipping school on Fridays.
Ingrid has an exciting academic career which has including living and working in Svalbard as a Post Doctoral researcher at UNIS.
" I think supervision will always be one of the more challenging aspects as an Assc. Professor. I have coached volleyball for many years, ten or more, and I feel that supervision is very much like coaching, Some days you feel like you're perfectly balanced in your role leading someone else towards great accomplishments, just the right amount of input, cheering, strategy, tweak, hint and success follows."
What do you expect to be the most fun and/or challenging part of being an associate professor?
I love to teach, and there is so much space for growth and change and variation in teaching, I enjoy it a lot and I hope I don't ever lose that. I also look forward to collaboration on projects around the world, I look forward to being in the field again after too many years (babies and Covid) sitting at a desk and seeing new places and continuing to learn, life-long, about geology.
I think supervision will always be one of the more challenging aspects as an Assc. Professor. I have coached volleyball for many years, ten or more, and I feel that supervision is very much like coaching, Some days you feel like you're perfectly balanced in your role leading someone else towards great accomplishments, just the right amount of input, cheering, strategy, tweak, hint and success follows. Other days, no matter what you say or do it seems you cannot help. And there is frustration in that role, in not being the one doing it but struggling in how to help someone else do it.
" Live life beyond your research "
Do you have any tips for other young researchers?
A research path is full of twists and turns and if I were now at my wise old age to look back at the good an the bad and find some words of wisdom, it is this:
1. Don't ever be afraid to ask questions, it doesn't matter if "everyone knows that". My grandfather loved the expression "better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to speak and to remove all doubt" but in academia it is far to prevalent and at the root of imposter syndrome. It is fine to to not know everything, it is fine to forget things, it is fine to admit you don not know how to do something. Don't be afraid in general to speak up, to express yourself, to question the status quo.
2. Don't take anything too seriously. A rejection, a bad grade, a mistake in your paper, a mean review (from someone accused to "scientific misconduct" 3 times in one review, I know). It's all such small things on the big scale of things. We all "fail" sometimes. It can be hard but try to find perspective.
3. It may not feel like you "have time" to do other things but do other things. Always. During my PhD I played volleyball in division 1, I acted in several stage productions, I coached a team, and I never worked on weekends (I know shocker). You will not get more done because you sit until midnight, you will get more done if you are meeting a friend at the gym at 5. So live life beyond your research. Have other passions and interests and friends.
You can find out more about Ingrid, her current research projects and publications by visiting her staff page at the University of Olso Website, here.