Matt Huddleston

Matt completed his doctorate in climate modelling at the University of Cambridge, sponsored by the Met Office. He is now a principal consultant in climate change at the Met Office, communicating climate science to a variety of different customers.




The following text is a transcription of a career story collected by interview.

"My name is Matt Huddleston and I am Principal Consultant in Climate Change at the Met Office.

"Well, it involves a lot of climate science and communicating that climate science to a huge diversity of different customers. So in the business world, in the public world, in, er to NGOs to schools, to many different audiences. We provide weather not just for the UK, weather forecasts and insight into climate but for the whole globe.

"I got a PhD at Cambridge studying climate modelling. It was a case award, which means the Met Office sponsored, they gave me a bit of extra money to do the PhD ‘cause they were interested in the modelling work that I was doing, to include in their future climate models. So, it's good to have PhDs where they're linked to industry in some way, or linked to a purpose, because then you perhaps get more relevance to the work. It can, you don't get second year blues so much ‘cause you can really see why you are doing what you are doing.

"Well erm there wasn't money in polar research and there was little understanding of the impacts of climate change in the polar regions during the '90s and so there were very small amounts of research going on in that field, so I had to change direction a bit, so I moved into forecasting El Niño's and forecasting big changes in the climate over the coming seasons.

"The ability to take very disparate and a wide range of information and link it together and when you write your PhD thesis you, you have to link hundreds and hundreds of papers together to write those conclusions. And then that drives a certain intellectual process or rigour that you don't forget.

"The papers you forget, and all that stuff, but the process is, is invaluable and that means today hopefully I am able to take on a broader diversity of information and, and, and link it together in that way. Nowadays in the information age, that is the main challenge. Many physicists end up in the city earning you know enormous salaries in the big financial institutions or they end up helping er NGOs, charities and the such-like, developing communication strategies and things like that. So there's a huge broad er.. capability from understanding some of the fundamental subjects.

"I didn't really see my future as a pure academic and if you start doing a postdoc you start to move in that direction. And for me, I thought my role was more in applied science. Not necessarily in purely commercial areas and the Met Office suits me down to the ground ‘cause we're a nice mix – some wonderful academic research and with hundreds of PhD scientists working together – but then applying that science is, is a great joy and interest. That sort of experience in research can give you a great thirst for knowledge and really relate what you are doing back to the outer world.

"So you can come back into business or in, into education, to schools, into any sort of aspect of life and communicate with much more, erm, vitality than people who're just stuck in an office. So if you have the chance to get out there and do stuff when you are younger in a research programme or something like that it's something that will benefit you for years and years after, even if the connections are not immediately obvious. In the future I can see more and more companies needing advice and er as a role then that's gonna be something that's gonna be important, in enabling not just operational people on a day to day business to manage their jobs but to enable erm the shareholders, the directors in a business, the executive in a business to make the decisions about what the impact of weather and climate will be in the future."