Meet the Scientist: Aisha Al Suwaidi

June 19, 2019

Name: Aisha Al Suwaidi
Title: Associate Professor in Earth Sciences
Institution: Khalifa University of Science and Technology
Place of residence: Abu Dhabi, UAE


What kind of science do you do?
I try to understand how the carbon cycle has changed through the Mesozoic (occasionally I work on more recent things like the Paleocene-Eocene ~55 million years ago), but mostly I am very interested in understanding how long it takes the Earth to recover from carbon cycle perturbations, mass extinctions and anoxia in the oceans associated with large igneous province activity hundreds of millions of years ago.

Why did you choose this field?
As an undergraduate, I studied environmental science, but I realized very quickly that modern (Anthropocene) environmental and geological problems had too many human emotions attached to them. So, I started thinking more about deep time, which I found was much more complex and interesting.
I realized that taking what I knew about the present gave me a very different perspective in analyzing deep time compared to other geochemists.

What's the most interesting place you've ever done field work?
I once did field work in Utah in the Snake and Tule valley in February with ~1.8 m of snow drifts. We had to build a snow bank around our tent to insulate it and we had icicles forming in our tent and at the end of our sleeping bags at night. We had to warm our breakfast up with the car heaters because the bread and milk was frozen. It was the best thing ever (in retrospect)!

What are you working on now?
At the moment I am working on Early Jurassic Volcanism and its impact on the terrestrial record in the Southern Hemisphere.

What are your aspirations for your career in science?
That's a big question! My hope is to be able to continue field work in remote and understudied but critical places until I am unable to hike and carry rocks anymore – and to encourage scientists, and the general population to understand how critical it is to understand the time it takes for the Earth to recover from catastrophic events.

If you could sit next to anyone on an airplane, who would it be?
Well probably my best friend and love of my life ........ my dog Jaq. Just kidding I mean my husband Charlie Walker. Although sitting next to someone famous or scientifically inspiring would be good, I would probably be too shy and awkward to have a conversation with them, so it would be a boring flight. My husband has been a good travel companion and we have had many adventures together.

What's your favorite city in the world and why?
I am not sure I have been to enough cities to say, at the moment Amsterdam is my favorite because it's very relaxed and I have had some great holidays there with my husband, friends and family. It is the greatest city to visit for New Years.

What is your favorite downtime activity?
Powerlifting! I started powerlifting two years ago and it helps my brain slow down. Also it is amazing to realize that the human body is an amazing machine capable of incredible things!