Fiona Heesen

What great questions! Keep them coming!



Jean Vanier Catholic High School (2001-2005), Queen’s University Canada (2005-2010), and the University of Aberdeen (2010 to present)


BA Honours in Geography and Economics and an MSc in Rural Planning and Environmental Management

Work History:

I have worked as a lifeguard, a museum assistant, and have sold houses to name a few of my jobs. My favourite job was working in a ski resort so I could ski in my spare time!

Current Job:

PhD Student


University of Aberdeen

Me and my work

I try to find out why our small communities in the countryside need and use the Internet.

I spend my time speaking to people that live and work in small rural communities in the UK to figure out how they use Internet services (such as Facebook, online banking and so on), and whether or not they need their Internet to be faster. Many small communities have slow Internet – or none at all! – and there is a lot of interest in making it faster and better across the country.

I’m interested in how people connect with other people – through both online websites and chat – like this I’m a Scientist website! – and through offline activities, like walking outside and going to the local shop.

I want to know if having faster Internet services changes how we use the Internet, and whether that means that people are happier, more productive, and better off in their communities.

In other words, I get to spend a lot of time on my computer and speaking to people about their computers and I get to call it work 🙂

My Typical Day

Coffee…stare at computer…write things…coffee…go home and repeat daily!

In general, every day is different for me. Some days I sit at my desk in Aberdeen and spend my time writing and thinking. Other days I get to go and visit people in their homes and talk to them about their Internet and drink lots of tea and eat lots of biscuits! Those are my favourite days. Being a scientist means you get to do a lot of weird and wonderful things!

What I'd do with the money

I would travel to more small towns and villages and speak to people about my science adventures :)

I would love to be able to travel to more towns and villages and discuss their use or need for Internet, including visiting schools and community groups. Really, I would use the money to find out more about how you think and hopefully encourage more kids to become scientists!

My Interview

How would you describe yourself in 3 words?

Energetic, happy and Canadian!

Who is your favourite singer or band?

I could never pick! Probably Queen, the Rolling Stones, Blondie…

What's your favourite food?

Anything pizza-related.

What is the most fun thing you've done?

Definitely learning how to snowboard – it was very hard at first, but I love it now!

What did you want to be after you left school?

I don’t think I had any idea!

Were you ever in trouble in at school?

Not at all – I was a goody-two-shoes :)

What was your favourite subject at school?


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

Getting to give people a chance to speak about their towns and communities is amazing and very rewarding.

What or who inspired you to become a scientist?

Maps – I love seeing the world laid out and imagining all the wonderful things and people in it.

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

I would be an artist – I love to paint and be creative.

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

To be able to fly (I could visit my family in Canada so easily!), to have a lifetime supply of Skittles and coffee, and to be able to fund more science!

Tell us a joke.

Every time I find the key to success, someone changes the lock.

Other stuff

Work photos:

I often drink a lot of tea while I speak to people! myimage1

I get to visit the most interesting and beautiful places and see where people live and how they connect to the Internet myimage2

My desk is often covered in things to do, post-it notes and bits of work: myimage3