His CV is ten pages long and extremely varied. It includes everything from analysing archaeological materials and special assignments for the Swedish National Laboratory of Forensic Science to teaching applied geology at university level. Eric Hegardt is a bedrock geologist who loves problem-solving and isn’t afraid to try out new things.
Perhaps he became a geologist because he enjoys working both outdoors and indoors. Or maybe his interest in geology stems from his childhood, when he ran through the tunnel under the motorway to the pegmatite quarry* in Högsbo, Gothenburg, to play.
“It was great fun trying to split the crystals,” says Eric. “But at that time, I didn’t have any thoughts of geology. It was only later that a friend suggested studying geosciences.”
Immediately after graduating, he got a place as a doctoral student. During this time, he researched the old mountain chain folds of southwest Sweden. He wanted to find out when and how they were actually formed. By studying minerals formed by the high pressure caused by a mountain chain, it is possible to work out not only how thick the crust of the earth has been at various times, but also when different continents collided with each other.
However, it took some time before he was able to defend his thesis – ten years to be precise.
“By the end of my doctoral studies, I was tired of them. There were only a few of us doctoral students at the department then, and there was insufficient critical mass.”
So he mothballed his thesis and instead became self-employed in 2004, offering prospecting, geophysics, groundwater and environmental services.
“I’ve always been quite outgoing, and if you’re a humble problem-solver who understands the scientific concept, that’s good. What I lacked was experience, but I knew plenty of people with experience who were more than willing to review and discuss what I did.”
His very first assignment involved investigating the spread of heavy metals from glassworks using geophysical methods, and one thing led to another. He worked with groundwater issues, was involved in opening mines, and eventually converted his trading company into a limited company with a co-owner and an employee. Once the number of days he spent travelling began to approach 200 days per year, he decided to wind down the company.
“I’ve always enjoyed academic studies, and it felt important to complete my thesis, which is hard to do while running a business. And I had a supervisor, David Cornell, who always encouraged me to finish.”
So he took a job as a consultant instead, completed his thesis and defended it in 2010. Eric still has links to the university, as he teaches applied geology, geophysics and geochemistry.
“The academic education and the critical thinking are excellent if you also want to understand how things work outside academia. What you actually learn at university is problem-solving and processing information. Knowledge itself is something anyone can acquire.”
*Pegmatite is a coarse rock, usually with a granite composition. In most cases, pegmatite has crystallised from solutions left behind in cracks and cavities following the formation of various granites from magmas.
Education: Doctoral degree in bedrock geology, 2010
Work: Employed as a consultant in geology and group leader for rock engineering at ÅF
Interests: Motorbikes – has owned 12. Currently has a Triumph Daytona 955i Centennial Edition.