Peter Denheen - Hydrogeologist - Atkins

Issued: Tue, 06 Oct 2020 00:00:00 BST

Tell us a fun fact about yourself

I’m a big fan of cycling and I love to travel to new countries and discover new languages and cultures.

Tell us about your career journey so far

My interest in the subject of hydrogeology began during my undergraduate training in Geology and Petroleum Geology at the University of Aberdeen (2012-2016), and I completed an MSc in Hydrogeology at the University of Strathclyde (2016-2017).

Following the completion of my studies I was offered a role as a graduate hydrogeologist in London with the engineering consultancy, Atkins. I spent 2 years within this role before I transferred back to the Atkins Glasgow office and began a secondment in the Midlands with the major water supplier, Severn Trent Water, which is my current role.

What was your favourite subject in school and why?

I have always enjoyed spending time in nature, so I found studying Geography at school very interesting and enjoyable. This in turn heavily influenced my decision to study Geology at university.

What subjects/qualifications are useful for your role?

Hydrogeology encompasses a range of disciplines, not just geology and the work is extremely diverse. Many hydrogeologists have strong backgrounds in chemistry, biology and environmental science and management.

What is a normal day in your role like?

There is a strong fieldwork component to work in Hydrogeology – from sampling groundwater chemistry to determine the natural quality or pollution of the resource, to assessing the capacity of different rocks to store and transmit groundwater. Fieldwork often brings you into contact with the people who are directly dependent on the groundwater resource, such as local farmers, and gives a real relevance to the work. Another large area of work in Hydrogeology is groundwater modelling; simulating groundwater flow, recharge, and contamination plumes to help make decisions on how best to manage the resource or assess likely future impacts of climate change.

What is your favourite thing about your job?

The work is always interesting and varied, giving me the opportunity to be involved in the whole spectrum of hydrogeology including environmental, geochemistry, and geotechnical related work. There are always challenges to be faced on projects and innovative solutions are often required to meet these challenges. Job satisfaction can be very high.

Can you suggest an activity that could be done at home that illustrates an aspect of your work? 

There are numerous free online geographic mapping services available to the public from the British Geological Society (BGS), the Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA), and the Environment Agency in England and Wales (EA). Professional hydrogeologists like myself use information from these sources on a daily basis to help understand risks to groundwater and to gain an understanding of the underlying geology at particular sites.

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