Keely Mills, Honorary Treasurer of the ISDR

My name is Keely. I love lake sediments and siliceous algae. I have learned over time that this declaration works one of two ways, in a pub with people I don’t know, it’s usually a conversation killer. In terms of this blog, I am assured I am in good company, and it is most definitely a conversation starter!

Officially, I act in the capacity of Honorary Treasurer for the ISDR. This is a role I have held since moving back to the UK in 2012 (more on that later). My role as Treasurer means I have a rather large responsibility. I am the person who looks after the Society’s finances, and as the ISDR is a Registered Charity, it means I manage our charitable status compliance. I am also the one person who has met every single member of the ISDR, perhaps not in person, but I am the one behind the scenes who is managing all of your subscription payments to the Society, and who makes sure your copies of Diatom Research make their way to your letterbox. I do love this job, but it can often get pretty hectic with subscription payments, subscription queries, and balancing that with my normal job. I think, mostly, I have it under control, but I will use this forum to apologise in advance for when I drop a few balls, and my ISDR activities slow to a snail’s pace!

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Looking perplexed whilst coring Tower Hill Lake (Victoria, Australia)

So, how did I become a diatom professional? Actually, I had never heard of a diatom until Sarah Davies (our current Secretary) started lecturing at Aberystwyth University in 2003, when I was in my 3rd year of my undergraduate degree. Up until then, I was a fan of pollen, but then Sarah waltzed in to a lecture theatre and well and truly turned my attention to the beautifully ornate diatoms. Well, say no more – off I went to undertake an MSc in Quaternary Science where my project used diatom from the Lofoten Islands, Norway, to look at changes in sea level over the Holocene. This led to a PhD looking at diatom records (palaeolimnology) from crater lakes in Uganda, a postdoc using diatom records to assess drought history in Australia, and a short stint at lecturing at Loughborough University! I took up my current role at the British Geological Survey in 2014 a job that still allows me to dabble in the world of diatoms (mainly from Uganda and Malaysia), as well as undertaking applied science as part of our Geoscience for Sustainable Futures programme.

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Team Diatom! A recent team selfie whilst on fieldwork in Uganda with other notable diatomists (L-R: Tessa Driessen [PhD student & young diatomist], Richard Nyakoojo [Ugandan colleague who appreciates diatoms after working with us for 10 years], Emilie Saulnier-Talbot, Me, David Ryves [all seasoned diatomists])!

Even though diatoms aren’t always my primary focus, I keep myself well in the loop – mostly through my activities with the ISDR, through organising the annual British Diatomists Meeting (which I love!), and random things like writing blogs about my favourite diatom (Amphora coffeaeformis…read all about it here). One of the best things that has happened to the Society in the last few years is the creation of this – the blog, the website, the “young” diatomist community. One of my biggest worries is that we might lose touch with our younger cohorts of diatomists – so I’m really chuffed to see that the Young ISDR is going strong! Long may it continue? And if you are not a member of the ISDR, the Young ISDR, or attending one of the many diatom related meetings. Why not?
Be there, or be centric!