Get to know the SRC: Elodie Borleis

Like many of our staff, Elodie did her time on the data analysis treadmill, and is now a critical part of our earthquake hazard assessment team. You can find Elodie on Twitter: @borleis

Q: When did you start working for the Seismology Research Centre?
A: I started in April 2011, right after the Tōhoku and Christchurch earthquakes!
Q: What was your first role at SRC, what do you do now, and how has it changed over time?
A: I started out as an earthquake data analyst; analysing data from seismic monitoring networks to locate earthquakes to populate and maintain the SRC’s earthquake catalogue. I now conduct seismic hazard assessments for all types of infrastructure such as large dams or pipelines, for sites in Australia and overseas.
Seismology is such a developing science that it can seem to change almost weekly! One week you’ll be doing things one way and the next week the process has completely changed! I also don’t miss carrying a laptop around when on duty, the Quick Quake app on our phones is way easier!
Q: How did you become interested in seismology?
A: I’ve always been a little obsessed with natural disasters. I would always make my family watch disaster films like Twister or Dante’s Peak on repeat. I didn’t think there were any jobs in seismology in Australia and when the opportunity came up to get one I jumped at it and have never looked back.
Q: What do you like most about your job?
A: I love how much it changes and develops all the time. There is so much to learn and so much to improve on that you can never get bored. Some of the hazard studies I’ve done are in such unusual places that I would never get a chance to visit; it feels like I know a small part of those places now. Also, earthquakes are just so incredible and amazing, what’s not to like!
Q: What do you find most challenging?
A: Keeping up with all the new techniques coming out all the time. One minute you think you’ve got it handled and the next minute someone has come up with an even better way that you now have to implement.
Q: Do you have a vision or goal that you’d like to achieve in your career?

A: I’d love to get more people aware of earthquakes in Australia. I’m worried that when a big one hits no one is going to be prepared and we’ll end up in a situation like Christchurch. I’d also love to create my own ground motion model one day…
Q: If you had to work in another field, what would you want to do?
A: I grew up in northeast Victoria where drought was common. If I had to choose another field, it would be working in some way with the environment, whether that was as a climate scientist or meteorologist or even perhaps a storm chaser!
Q: What has been your most memorable career moment?
A: My most memorable moment was probably even before I had started the job! I was at my parents’ house for my birthday and mum’s birthday and the Tōhoku earthquake occurred and we were watching the live footage of the tsunami hitting the Japanese coast. I had recently been offered and accepted the job and so this was all a little bit exciting when I realised that I would now be working in this field for real.
Q: What advice would you give to a student who wants a job like yours?
A: Study a variety of subjects! Seismology uses so many different techniques, in particular GIS!! Get yourself familiar with a free GIS program, you have no idea how much you will require this! And definitely try to learn some coding!