EXPLORE – Career Profiles

EXPLORE – Career Profiles

Europlanet’s sister-project, EXPLORE, has been funded by the European Commission to develop Machine Learning and advanced visualisation tools to support the astronomy and planetary communities. One of the real strengths of the EXPLORE project is the diverse skills-set of the team. As the project comes to a close, we’ve asked people working on the project to reflect on their careers, their inspirations and the advice that they would pass on. Click on the images below to read their career profiles. If they look familiar, many of the team are also part of the Europlanet 2024 RI project’s GMAP activity and comms team.

We have produced an edited set of the profiles for download:

EXPLORE has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement No 101004214.

EXPLORE Career Profiles: Lian Greijn

EXPLORE Career Profiles

Name: Lian Greijn
EXPLORE Project Role: Intern
Professional Role and Affiliation: Intern at Acri-ST & MSc student Aerospace Engineering at TU Delft
Nationality: Dutch
Current location: Toulouse, France.

1. What did you want to be when you were 10?

For a long time, I wanted to become a judge. However, when I was old enough to learn how monotone judicial texts are I quickly abandoned that dream. 

2. What was your favourite subject at school?

My favourite subject was history, I really like reading and I enjoyed how it offers a perspective on how past events shape our modern world.

3. What did you study at university? Why did you choose those topics and the places to study?

I am still studying and in my final year for my MSc in aerospace engineering, I also completed my BSc in this field both at TU Delft. I always had a big passion for space and was very intrigued by the complexity of space missions. They have such challenging design criteria and really push the boundaries of engineering, I wanted to learn more about how we design and develop them. I chose Delft because it has a very strong international aerospace programme.

4. How did you get your first job? How many jobs have you had since?

I am of course still studying and haven’t had my first ‘real’ job yet, but I found this internship by asking around a lot in my university. For example, by approaching professors, the alumni relation office, and people I met through career events.

5. What’s been the biggest piece of luck or ‘surprise twist’ you have had in your career to date?

I was very adamant about going to Toulouse for my internship due to the strong aerospace industry in this city and because I studied French for a semester. It is however quite tough to find a position from abroad especially as a non-native French speaker. I had found an alumnus of my university who worked here and asked if he could help me. He happened to approach my current supervisor at their kid’s schoolyard to ask if he would know a position, which is what got me on this project.

6. Have you had a mentor or person that inspired you? How did they help you?

I have been inspired by almost everyone I worked with. I think working together on assignments or just discussing problems can really help with thinking outside the box and with motivation in general.  

7. What are the main things you do each day?

As part of the project, I mostly spend my day programming in Python (and therefore also a lot of time googling issues). I also spend a bit of time working on public outreach, such as editing video tutorials. 

8. What do you like best about the work that you do and what do you like least?

I really enjoy the required creativity and problem solving that comes with programming. You constantly find a new issue and try to figure out how to solve it. Sometimes tasks seem very daunting at the start, but when you manage to solve it, it is very rewarding. 

What I like least is probably that most of the work is done just sitting behind a computer, I would love to move a little more and have a bit more of a change in scenery. 

9. Do you have ambitions or things that you would like to do next?

Mostly to graduate next year! 

10. What advice would you give your 10-year-old self?

A bit cliché but I would say to just enjoy life as a kid. I would also tell myself that I am not nearly as bad at maths as I like to make myself believe. 

Quick CV

  • Academic qualifications
    • BSc in Aerospace Engineering
  • Main or selected jobs to date: 
    • Internship at Acri-ST

More EXPLORE Career Profiles

EXPLORE has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement No 101004214.

EXPLORE Career Profiles: Giacomo Nodjoumi

EXPLORE Career Profiles

Name: Giacomo Nodjoumi
EXPLORE Project Role: Co-leader of the development of L-EXPLO and L-HEX Lunar Scientific Data Applications
Professional Role and Affiliation: PhD Candidate, Constructor University
Nationality: Italian
Current location: Bremen, Germany.

1. What did you want to be when you were 10?

Space game developer, professional bass player, fighter jet pilot/astronaut… I had too many different interests and dreams.

2. What was your favourite subject at school?

Natural Sciences and informatics were the most interesting for me. But I also enjoyed chemistry and English. I really disliked humanities; now I regret that I was not more interested in those fields.

3. What did you study at university? Why did you choose those topics and the places to study?

Both my Bachelor’s and Master’s were in geology, so I mainly studies scientific fields, from chemistry to petrography and so on. My Master’z was focused on engineering geology and risk assessment and management, so the topics shifted a bit to more practical problems for risk assessment and mitigation, such as slope stability or geophysics, remote sensing and so on.

I chose these subjects for the love of natural sciences, and the desire to know more about our Earth. The Master’s was chosen essentially for the course in remote sensing (feeding my nerdy side).

4. How did you get your first job? How many jobs have you had since?

My Master’s thesis supervisor offered me one, since I made a working prototype of a multi-camera instrument for monitoring landslide. I’ve had two jobs including my actual position. The first one in the company of my supervisor, but it lasted only for three months, it was not fulfilling my expectations.

5. What’s been the biggest piece of luck or ‘surprise twist’ you have had in your career to date?

A colleague and close friend, aware of my passion for remote sensing and space, put me in contact with my current PhD supervisor. Since I always thought that working in planetary science was impossible for me, it was a life-changing event, especially since I had to move to another country for longer periods of time. The ‘surprise twist’ (even if I would describe it as a very, very biggest piece of bad luck for the whole world) was that the Covid-19 pandemic started almost immediately after my arrival in Bremen.

6. Have you had a mentor or person that inspired you? How did they help you?

No one in particular, maybe Baden-Powell (founder of the Scout Movement) inspired me in my “youth days”, but since then I’d say that any person that I met, lived with, or worked with, left me some sort of lesson which helped me grow up in different aspects of my life.

One of Baden-Powell’s mottos, ‘Estote Parati,’ which translates to ‘Be Prepared’ in English, inspired me to be ready for everyday challenges. Additionally, a point of the Scout’s Law, “A Scout’s duty is to be useful and to help others”, motivated me to strive to be a better person. 

7. What are the main things you do each day?

Drink coffee, analyse planetary data, develop Python tools, read scientific papers, write papers for my PhD, keep updated with trending technologies and – last but not least – drink more coffee!

8. What do you like best about the work that you do and what do you like least?

I really like the fact that I am pursuing almost all my passions, even if it can be very stressful and challenging.

9. Do you have ambitions or things that you would like to do next?

I would like to continue developing something that may help future generations that wants to join the planetary science community.

10. What advice would you give your 10-year-old self?

I know that may sounds a classic answer but “Listen to your mother, think less, enjoy life more, and do more exercises!”

Quick CV

  • Academic qualifications
    • Bachelor’s in Geology
    • Master’s in Engineering Geology and Risk Assessment
    • PhD Candidate in Planetary Sciences
  • Main or selected jobs to date: 
    • MsC in Engineering Geology (2016-2019)
    • Junior Remote Sensing Analyst (2019-2020)
    • PhD Candidate in planetary sciences (2020-Present)

More EXPLORE Career Profiles

EXPLORE has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement No 101004214.

EXPLORE Career Profiles: Javier Eduardo Suárez Valencia

EXPLORE Career Profiles

Name: Javier Eduardo Suárez Valencia
EXPLORE Project Role: Researcher on the L-EXPLO and L-HEX Lunar Scientific Data Applications
Professional Role and Affiliation: PhD Candidate in Planetary Science at Constructor University.
Nationality: Colombian
Current location: Bremen, Germany

1. What did you want to be when you were 10?

I wanted to be an astronaut, especially to go to different planets.

2. What was your favourite subject at school?

Biology.

3. What did you study at university? Why did you choose those topics and the places to study?

Geology. I choose it because there was not an astronomy program in my country, and geology was still a really interesting natural science. Eventually, I was able to link the two

4. How did you get your first job? How many jobs have you had since?

My first job was as a risk management geologist, doing maps for a location in Colombia. Since then, I had two other jobs.

5. What’s been the biggest piece of luck or ‘surprise twist’ you have had in your career to date?

To start my PhD in Bremen Germany. I always worked in planetary science just for passion, but now I can make a living from it.

6. Have you had a mentor or person that inspired you? How did they help you?

Yes, another Colombian geologist, Fabian Saavedra. He showed me that we can study other planets – my professor did not have any idea of how to do that. 

7. What are the main things you do each day?

Working in my PhD, advising students in Colombia, reading.

8. What do you like best about the work that you do and what do you like least?

What I most enjoy is looking at spatial data of planetary surfaces to understand its geology. I do not enjoy debugging code!

9. Do you have ambitions or things that you would like to do next?

I want to be a university professor in a Colombian university.

10. What advice would you give your 10-year-old self?

The Universe is big and full of wonders. No matter what happens do not lose your curiosity to learn from it!

Quick CV

  • Education
    • (2021-ongoing) PhD candidate in Planetary Science, Constructor University, Bremen, Germany.
    • (2015-2018) MSc in Geology, Universidad Nacional de Colombia, Bogotá, Colombia.
    • (2010-2015) Geologist, Universidad Nacional de Colombia, Bogotá, Colombia.
  • Work
    • (2021-ongoing) Researcher, Constructor University, Bremen, Germany.
    • (2019-2021) Occasional professor, Universidad Nacional de Colombia, Bogotá, Colombia.

More EXPLORE Career Profiles

EXPLORE has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement No 101004214.