Clayton Roberts

Club CUBC Men

Year of Birth 1994

Hometown Fairfield, Vermont

Nationality USA

College Girton College

Undergrad/Graduate PhD

Year 2nd

What are you studying? Astronomy

What is the most interesting part of your course? Do you have any professional or academic plans after? My thesis focuses on the tracking and monitoring of greenhouse gases, and it’s really exciting to be able to use real-time satellite data to observe how human activity and the pandemic affect our atmosphere. After my PhD I’d like to continue working to help combat the climate crisis.

Future ambitions? I would like one day to work for NASA or the ESA. Both have really exciting Earth-observation programs that I would love to join.

How do you balance rowing and academic life? A fair amount of work on weekends is necessary, and being able to work well from home helps greatly with recovery from a tough session. I’m lucky in that a lot of my degree is computational, so I mostly write my code from home. The pandemic has also brought teleconferencing to greater prominence in academia, which makes it easier to meet with collaborators and supervisors around the rowing schedule.

When did you start rowing, and why? I was convinced to give college rowing a try during my Masters degree a few years ago and really enjoyed it. I had a great experience rowing with those guys and they became some of my closest friends.

What was your first club? Wolfson College Boat Club.

What is your favourite part of rowing for Cambridge? I’d say that the camaraderie is one of the most enjoyable aspects of rowing for Cambridge. I was a spare and a new member on the squad last year, but returning athletes really made me feel welcome despite my comparative lack of experience.

What’s your rowing history, and what has been your biggest achievement so far? I learned to row at Wolfson College, Cambridge while doing my Masters degree. After that I took a year out to work and rowed in the meantime for the Cambridge 99s, and after that started my PhD and began rowing with CUBC. I was really proud of making the squad last year and I’m looking forward to building on that for this year’s campaign.

Have you raced in the Boat Race before? If yes, when? No.

Do you have any race day habits or superstitions? I like to listen to Lawrence when I warm up for an erg test, they’re one of my favorite bands and listening to music helps to keep me calm and relaxed before an erg piece.

If you could have any sportsperson in your crew, who would it be? William Alexander Legge.

What gets you through a tough session? Do you have a mantra, rituals? I don’t really have any rituals for tough sessions, I try to just take each session as it comes and not think too much about whatever’s next. Being rested and prepared for the session is important, but beyond that it’s just about producing the best effort possible on the day and then recovering and moving on to the next one.

Any hobbies, other interests outside rowing? I have enjoyed playing the piano all my life and like to spend time outside hiking and camping.

How do you motivate yourself and your teammates, especially with Covid restrictions? Some of the guys on the squad have done a great job of organising virtual hangouts and pub quizzes over the various lockdowns and restrictions, and that’s been great for keeping the squad together even when we’ve had to train in isolation.