Sheona Masterton

Favourite Thing: Visiting different countries to meet experts in geology and geophysics in universities, companies and at conferences. I love being part of such a huge sciency community where everyone has the same goal: to understand the world around us!



Manshead Upper School (1997-2002), Liverpool University (2002-2006), Leeds University (2006-2010)


PhD in Geophysics, Masters in Geology & Geophysics, A-levels

Work History:

Getech (2011-present), Leeds University (2006-2010)

Current Job:




Me and my work

I figure out how and why the continents move over millions of years.

I’m a geodynamicist at a company in Leeds, and my main job is to try to understand plate tectonics.

I basically play at being a detective every day, tracking down scientific clues and piecing them all together to tell the story of how Earth came to look the way it does now. Most of my work is done in front of a computer, where I create simulations of how Earth looked hundreds of millions of years ago and how it looks today.

Part of my work involves looking at the massive forces involved in tearing continents apart and smashing them together to create things like earthquakes, volcanoes and entire mountain ranges, as well as trying to understand what’s happening deep within the earth, hundreds of kilometres beneath our feet.


My Typical Day

Get to work, drink tea, think, move continents around, drink more tea, eat cake, think some more, go home.

What I'd do with the money

Use it to run geology and geophysics workshops in schools

When I was in school, science was always about chemistry, physics, biology and maths. I remember getting really frustrated that I couldn’t see the point in learning any of these subjects individually (especially maths!) because I didn’t understand how they could be applied to the real world. I would love to be able to visit schools to show students and teachers how geology and geophysics brings together all of these subjects, and is about so much more than just staring at a bunch of boring rocks in a lab.

I would use the money to fund workshops where myself and various experts can come into schools and colleges, to run a load of fun experiments (build your own volcano, giant sandboxes, show what really happens to the ground in an earthquake…etc).


My Interview

How would you describe yourself in 3 words?

Enthusiastic, stubborn, loud.

Who is your favourite singer or band?


What's your favourite food?

Garlic bread.

What is the most fun thing you've done?

Sea-kayaking in a massive thunderstorm in Fiji. In hindsight it was really stupid, but was fun at the time…

What did you want to be after you left school?

An astrophysicist. Then I discovered that Earth is generally easier to see, so I went for geophysics instead.

Were you ever in trouble at school?


What was your favourite subject at school?


What's the best thing you've done as a scientist?

I worked at NASA Goddard Space Flight Center for a few months.

What or who inspired you to become a scientist?

My older brother. He did a PhD in Oceanographic Engineering and I decided I wanted to beat him.

If you weren't a scientist, what would you be?

A crazy cat lady.

If you had 3 wishes for yourself what would they be? - be honest!

1) See the Northern Lights, 2) Never regret a missed opportunity, 3) Get rich.

Tell us a joke.

Two chemists walk into a bar. The first says “I’ll have some H20”. The second says “I’ll have some H2O too”. The second one dies.

Other stuff

Work photos: