- Course: PhD in Biogeochemistry
- Year of graduation: 2008
Please briefly comment why you chose Leeds for Postgraduate Research Degree Study?
After finishing my undergraduate and master studies at ETH Zurich in Switzerland, I wished to do a PhD abroad with preference in Canada or Britain. At the time, Liane Benning advertised a PhD project in experimental field and laboratory biogeochemistry at Leeds University which suited my interests perfectly and I applied for it.
How do you think a PhD degree has helped you develop both personally and in your career?
Beside the scientific knowledge, my PhD has taught me some very essential skills such as self-discipline, independence, self-motivation which will not only help my future academic career but also my daily life in general. Furthermore, during my PhD, I have met and worked with many great people and I have visited so many different places which have widened my horizons enormously.
Please give a brief profile of your career path to your current job.
I obtained a diploma in Earth Sciences from the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (ETH) Zurich, Switzerland, in 2004. I then started a PhD in biogeochemistry at Leeds University which I finished in 2008. Towards the end of my PhD, I was not really sure whether I wanted to pursue an academic career but I was still keen to learn about new research areas and I really enjoyed working in a university environment. Furthermore, I was curious to see how university life feels like in the States. I, therefore, applied for travel and research grants to work for a few months in the USA. I obtained enough funding to sponsor a 3 month visit in an environmental microbiology laboratory at Penn State University. Thereafter, I was offered a 6 months post-doc at NASA Goddard Space Flight Center to expand my knowledge into organic geochemistry which I accepted without hesitation. During those 9 months in the States, I learned many new skills and I had the opportunity to work with many different research groups/scientists. This experience gave me the necessary confidence to continue with an academic career and thus, I applied for a few post-docs both in the USA and Britain. Eventually, I accepted a 3 year post-doc at Glasgow University in the Department of Geographical and Earth Sciences where I started working in August 2009.
What are the challenges and rewards of your current job?
Similar to a PhD, working as a post-doc can feel very lonely at times and it takes a lot of self-discipline and motivation to push yourself forward. However, I do really like working in a university as it allows me to plan and manage my own work and time. Furthermore, I enjoy the variety in my job which includes aspects like teaching, field/ lab work, collaboration with other scientists and presenting my own research in different ways.
What direction do you want your career to go in the future?
It is definitely important to think about the future, but honestly, I rarely do that. As long as I enjoy my work, I will continue with it. I am aware that the academic route has little security in the early stages; towards the end of this 3-year post-doc I will have to apply for a new research position and I will also have to compete for research funding which scares me ever so slightly. However, life is built up of one challenge after another and so far, I have always been able to rise up to them. Hopefully, I will be able to do so in the future.