Q&A with Marian Markham

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Full Name: Marian Markham BSc (Hons) MSc CGeol FGS PIEMA
Job Title: Principal Geoenvironmental Scientist
Company: Jacobs

Marian is a Chartered Geologist with the Geological Society, London and a Practitioner member of IEMA. She has over 15 years professional experience working at Halcrow Group Limited, now Jacobs. She has worked on a range of land development and infrastructure projects in the UK from desk study to remediation verification stage, often involving demolition and engineering of made ground. Marian holds an undergraduate degree in Geology and a MSc in Environmental Biogeochemistry. Her vocational qualifications include the qualifications BOHS P402 Buildings Surveys and NEBOSH National Certificate in Construction Health and Safety.

What or who inspired you to join the geotechnical industry?
I grew up near Lyme Regis and my interest in geology was inspired from an early age by the ever-changing and eroding Jurassic cliffs there and the legacy of Mary Anning, one of history’s most important fossil collectors and palaeontologists, whose portrait now proudly hangs in the reception of the Geological Society’s Burlington House.

What does a typical day entail?
I do not have a routine day, as you will have read many times before in this magazine about geotechnical and geoenvironmental professionals! No two projects or sites are the same in terms of land quality and assessment. I am currently splitting my time between London and Peterborough, working on the ground investigation design for the Lower Thames Crossing project.

Are there any projects which you’re particularly proud to have been a part of?
HS2 Ltd London-West Midlands ground investigation and my current Lower Thames Crossing project which are both huge infrastructure projects which will help to support the UK transport network and economy.

What are the most challenging aspects of your role?
Keeping up with constantly evolving UK geoenvironmental legislation and industry best practice across a discipline which involves air, water, land, planning, environmental impacts, social, waste management etc.

What AGS Working Group(s) are you a Member of and what are your current focuses?
I am a member of the Safety Working Group and the Contaminated Land Working Group. My current focus is on finalising the revised AGS Asbestos Risk Assessment for Ground Investigations.

What do you enjoy most about being an AGS Member?
I am the only geoenvironmental scientist in my office. It is therefore really helpful to be able to meet with other professionals at AGS meetings to directly discuss experiences and knowledge of current health, safety and geoenvironmental issues and challenges that our industry faces.

What do you find beneficial about being an AGS Member?
I believe the AGS guidance documents and magazine are a useful source of guidance directly from geotechnical practitioners. It is also important for the AGS members to be able to lobby Regulators and other key stakeholders as a united voice from a well-respected professional body, not just an individual. I will also be attending the AGS Conference in April, for which free* tickets are available to AGS members. *Terms and Conditions apply.

Why do you feel the AGS is important to the industry?
The mix of ground investigation contractors, suppliers and consultants who can all exchange views, concerns, ideas, safety alerts and publish useful industry guidance and technical standards on improving our science, which is made available to all through the AGS website.

What changes would you like to see implemented in the geotechnical industry?
I would like it to be accepted as normal and run of the mill for a robust and fully financed site investigation to be seen as part of the solution to support a competent design and successful construction of a development project, rather than part of the problem.