Ekbal Hussain

Wooooo, I won!!!! Thank you soooo much for voting for me guys! I had so much fun taking part in this event. Thanks to all my fellow scientists too. I learnt a lot from your answers!

Favourite Thing: I love exploring and getting outdoors to look for evidence that might tell us about the history of our planet.



University of Leeds 2012 – present, University of Cambridge 2008-2012, Cadbury Sixth Form College 2005-2007 (Yes, it was close to the Cadbury chocolate factory in Birmingham!)


Master of Science (Geological Sciences), Bachelor of Arts (Honours in Natural Sciences), A levels in: Physics, Chemistry, Maths and Further Maths

Work History:

I used to work in Waterstones because I love reading stories!

Current Job:

PhD Student


The Natural Environment Research Council (NERC) pay for the science I do at the University of Leeds.

Me and my work

I use satellites in space to see how the ground moves in dangerous earthquakes.

Every year thousands of people die because of ground shaking during earthquakes. Earthquakes happen on big cracks in the ground called faults. For my research I want to try and understand how the ground moves when there is an earthquake. Is it possible to measure how much energy is being stored on big faults and can we try and understand how and when the next big earthquake will happen?

This is my favourite satellite and the one I use the most. It’s called Envisat. myimage6

You can follow me on twitter for more science news: @ekh_rocksci

Also, check out my blog if you would like to learn more about earthquakes, volcanoes, tsunamis and other things like that.

My Typical Day

I write computer programs that use information from satellites to understand how the ground is moving.

8am: Some kind of sporting or gym activity in the morning.
9am: Into my office
– At work, I write lots of computer code to analyse information from the European Space Agency satellites that tell us how much the ground is moving. The area I focus on at the moment is in Turkey.
– Must remember to take LOTS of tea breaks during the day!
5pm: I play badminton
6pm: I play squash
7:30pm: I’m home. Time to relax and have dinner!

Sometimes, I get to go outdoors to look at the landscape and the rocks in it to try and understand what they tell us about the Earth.

Here’s a picture of me at the bottom of a cliff in Greece. Did you know, earthquakes in Greece can often make the ground go up? After lots of earthquakes you can get giant cliffs like the one in the picture! That’s cool, right? myimage4

What I'd do with the money

I will use it to encourage young scientists to get involved with helping people around the world.

I am strongly involved with the Geology for Global Development organisation. What this organisation does is help and support young scientists to use their skills to help people around the world.

For example, a simple understanding of the difference between different rocks is enough for you to understand the best places to find water for a family in Africa. myimage5

We can teach people how to build their houses so they don’t fall over in earthquakes.

The group was set up by some friends of mine while we were at university and is still a fairly new organisation. But we have lots of support from larger groups and we’re getting more and more young students involved with the work we do.

If I win, the prize money will go towards supporting the work Geology for Global Development does and helping to make a difference to people’s lives around the world.

My Interview

How would you describe yourself in 3 words?

Happy, Energetic, Crazy

Who is your favourite singer or band?

Frank Turner

What's your favourite food?

Spicy curry

What is the most fun thing you've done?

I built a boat out of banana trees during a flood in Bangladesh!

What did you want to be after you left school?

I wanted to be an astronomer.

Were you ever in trouble in at school?

All the time in primary school. In fact, I was responsible for most of my teacher’s grey hairs!

What was your favourite subject at school?

Science of course. But I also liked maths too.

What's the best thing you've done as a scientist?

I’m very lucky that I get to travel the world to look at places that have had earthquakes. I’ve been to places like Greece, Turkey, Canada, Spain and am heading off to Japan in July!

What or who inspired you to become a scientist?

The pleasure of finding things out.

If you weren't a scientist, what would you be?

I love wildlife and actually wanted to be a vet for a long time.

If you had 3 wishes for yourself what would they be? - be honest!

Happiness for my family and friends. Lots of money so I can give it all away to charity. I wish I could predict earthquakes!

Tell us a joke.

What did the boy volcano say to the girl volcano? I lava you.

Other stuff

Work photos:

This is where I spend most of my day. It’s not as untidy as it looks …. honest! myimage1

Meet my travelling companion Wally the woolly rhino. myimage2

My favourite part of being a geologist is getting outdoors to see places like this (Lulworth Cove in Dorset). The lines you see in the hill are made by different layers of rocks. myimage3

Meet Tripod, our three legged cat. He wants to be a scientist too! myimage7

Here’s a picture of what a fault looks like in the rocks. The blue line is the fault and it divides the red rocks on the right from the white rocks on the left. This fault probably made lots of earthquakes a long time ago. This picture was taken in Spain. myimage8

My friends and I have a tradition, whenever we go out to do any field work we have to build a human pyramid… just because! myimage9

This is what can happen in an earthquake. All the buildings here were flattened in an earthquake on the island of Haiti in 2010. I would like to focus my work on trying to understand earthquakes so we can stop people dying in places like this. myimage10