Old Members’ Trust Graduate Conference and Academic Travel Fund – Catherine Goddard
I landed in Basel, to what I naively assumed would be a large sprawling city, pleasantly surprised by the fact it had a sweet little village feel, reminiscent of an Alpine village. My purpose – to participate in an Image Analysis workshop, based at the University of Basel, run by the prestigious Renée Heilbronner, a leader in her field.
The premise of my PhD is to identify the relationship between a rock’s grain size and the stress that it has experienced. In order to analysis a rock’s grain size, a high magnification image needs to be obtained and then subjected to image processing. The aim of the workshop was to familiarise the participants with the methods of image processing. We then applied these skills by analysing a number of different micro-structures, with specific days dedicated to analysing grain size and grain shape.
The image-processing package, used for the duration of the workshop, was ‘Image SXM’ – software that has been used in my area of research extensively. However, in recent years the geological community have favoured Electron Backscatter Detection (EBSD) to Imaging Processing when undertaking microstructural analysis. An aim for the workshop was, in part, to determine the strengths and weaknesses of both the traditional and new techniques.
Days would start with morning lectures then, in the afternoon, we were let loose on some problem sheets. On the third day, the analysis focused on a technique called grain size analysis. This course highlighted the difficulties in determining a 3-Dimensional grain size from a 2-Dimentional image. These issues, arising from grain size analysis, occur irrespective of the grain size detection technique making this day in particular relevant for my work.
The end of the course was cut short as it clashed with one of the PhD student’s Viva – a much bigger event in Basel than in the UK. In particular the thesis defence is open to the general public. We finished early allowing us to attend their viva – an interesting/intense experience. After a successful viva the department threw a party where I over indulged in some traditional Swiss cuisine.
Slightly fortuitously, I had some time to explore the city before my flight. The heat was sweltering, with the locals using this as a pleasant excuse to have an evening dip in the River Rhine. Sadly, I didn’t have my costume so had to sit and be grumpy in the shade! I was also able to explore the paper factory, climb Basel Minster and walk round the Kunstmuseum Basel, an art Gallery where I found a painting by my favourite artist – Dali!
Overall the course was extremely interesting. It provided me, not only a greater understanding of relevant techniques, but also aspects to consider to help me maximise the potential of my project. It goes without saying that I am very thankful to The University College Old Members’ Trust Graduate Conference and Academic Travel Fund for enabling me to partake in this course.