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Spotlight of the month : Dr. Lorenza Raimondi
In 2021, we said goodbye to Lorenza Raimondi, as she graduated with her PhD degree from Dalhousie University. We are pleased to have Lorenza to be the focus of our student spotlight this month, as she kindly took some time from her busy schedule and answered some of our questions. Get to know her about her experience as a graduate student (and being a mother during her PhD), her advice for new graduate students, and her current professional focus!
When did you start in the CERC.OCEAN Lab and why did you choose to do your PhD here?
I began my studies in May 2014, I was determined in pursuing my interest in carbonate chemistry and I knew Doug (Wallace) and Kumiko (Azetsu-Scott) were top scientists in the field. I was also very interested in having a study experience abroad, and Canada was on my bucket list.
What was the focus of your research?
My thesis focused in on how the storage of human-released CO2 has changed over the past three decades in the Labrador Sea - a basin located between the Canadian and Greenlandic coasts that has a strong impact on the global circulation and plays a key role in sequestering gases into the ocean interior. I graduated in August 2021, it took me a long time but after having a child and going through a pandemic I am very proud of myself for taking only about a year longer than most PhD students in the department.
What was your experience like being a mother while in school?
I think having a kid during my PhD revealing to be more beneficial to my path than I originally anticipated. Of course, I had a lot more responsibilities than other students in the department (I was the only student with a baby) but because of these I think I improved in a lot of aspects. I had to prioritize what was truly important in my work and what was not, I worked way less hours than I did before, but I was more focused and driven. Most of all, having a baby put everything in perspective which allowed me to not be so emotionally attached to my PhD project and thesis and take the criticism differently than I did before - less personally.
I tried my best to make the most out of every experience ... I always tried to ‘steal’ knowledge from everyone around me and treasure it.
How has your time here shaped you or helped you in other areas of life?
During my years at Dalhousie and the Bedford Institute of Oceanography (BIO) I have learned a lot. I tried my best to make the most out of every experience I had and with the people I was working with. I always tried to “steal” knowledge from everyone around me and treasure it. I have learned that it is ok to not know everything, as long as you do your best to fill the gaps in your knowledge. I think the biggest lesson I have learned, especially thanks to Doug, is that there is no shame in saying “I don’t know” and asking for help.
What is your favourite memory from your PhD?
I don’t have one single favorite event but it’s the sum of all day-to-day episodes that made my PhD so memorable. For instance, all my meetings with Doug where we chatted about science but also grammar, ethics, and family, or all the coffee breaks with colleagues and friends talking about MATLAB, life, and everything in between. Those are the things that I value the most, along with my amazing time at sea.
What would you tell your younger self when you first started your studies, knowing what you know now?
I thought about this a LOT during the last stage of my PhD. I have three main pieces of advice:
- Everyone (at least almost everyone) is feeling the same inadequacy that you do:
When I first started, I thought everyone was smarter and better than I was. Over the years talking to my friends, we came to realize that we all felt the same way.
- Work smart: As a former PhD in the department used to say – this is a marathon not a sprint – so use your energy wisely. This means to take time off, don’t work from dawn to dusk, and make sure to have a social life and maintain your hobbies. This is what keeps you sane during this endeavor and, unfortunately, I learned this a bit late in my PhD.
- You are good enough: Even if you don’t feel like it, you are good enough. You need to work hard and be ready to accept that you don’t know much when you first start, but if you put in the effort and maintain a good work-life balance you will make it.
What are you up to now that you have made it through and got your PhD?
I am now a Postdoctoral Fellow at ETH Zurich (Switzerland) in the Department of Environmental System Sciences. I have my hands on several projects at the moment: one in Labrador Sea and Gulf of St. Lawrence, one in the Mediterranean Sea and finally one in the sub-tropical North Atlantic. All these projects focus primarily on using anthropogenically released radionuclides as tracers for ocean circulation.
Many thanks to Lorenza for her thoughtful responses! We miss her in the lab, but we are so excited for her new research journey. We look forward to collaborating on new projects and wish Lorenza all the best in the future!
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