12 June 2017
My YSSP experience as a female researcher
by Maria Xylia
Reflecting on my YSSP experience comes at an appropriate time, as these days mark my one-year anniversary of arriving to Laxenburg and IIASA for a summer that only transformed me as a researcher, but also as a person.
In a way, I knew what to expect from the YSSP. My supervisor, Prof. Semida Silveira, was a YSSPer in 1988, and she has strongly encouraged me since the beginning of my studies to take the opportunity of participating in the program. My co-supervisor, Dr. Dilip Khatiwada, was a YSSPer in 2012 and first established the collaboration with my YSSP supervisors Dr. Sylvain Leduc and Dr. Florian Kraxner, with the Ecosystems Services and Management (ESM) Program. During my time at IIASA, I met Dr. Piera Patrizio, a YSSPer in 2014, and we worked together with my supervisors in developing the model for electric bus charger location optimization. It is a great fortune to work close with someone that has just recently been part of the YSSP, to exchange experiences, learn, and share the occasional relaxing moments in times when stress builds up!
Maria with Dr. Piera Patrizio (YSSP 2014) at the inauguration of the electric bus using wireless charging, developed by Scania, in collaboration with KTH Royal Institute of Technology, Vattenfall, Stockholm Trafikförvaltningen, and Södertälje Kommun. Södertälje, December 8, 2016.
Despite the people around me shaping my expectations of the YSSP, the results of my stay at IIASA surpassed any expectation that I had. With the help of the IIASA scholars, I managed to fully develop the model in line with my initial targets, and bring insights to Swedish stakeholders that can facilitate the transition to electrified public transport. The model I built at IIASA is a work of constant progress, and I am still in close collaboration with the ESM group for adapting and improving the model and publishing the results for further dissemination. I am grateful to my supervisors for offering me the support and tools to take my research to such exciting paths.
Apart from my scientific development, I cannot reflect upon the YSSP without addressing my personal development during that period. Surviving the YSSP is an intense experience that leaves you longing for more when the Final Colloquium is over. In the intensity of these days, bonds formed are strong, thoughts and feelings are honest, and the friends you make will be for life, despite of the distance and the different time zones. Being a Greek representing Sweden at the YSSP also put me into a place where I realized that I can now identify myself as a combination of my Greek “nature” and Swedish “nurture”. This realization is very important for persons that have taken a decision to live abroad. Allowing different cultures and ways of thinking to shape you will only make you better with time.
One of the most rewarding experiences at the YSSP was the visit from the Former President of Finland, H.E. Tarja Halonen, which took place close to the end of the program. President Halonen visited IIASA in August 2016 and took the time to talk to us about gender equality and human rights in one of the most, among many, interesting experiences of the whole summer. The advice she shared with us about female leadership and life balance was a great inspiration. It is comforting to know that women like her have been paving the way for my generation, and makes me confident to strive to make things even better for the future generations of female researchers, which are yet to come.
Maria with H.E. the Former President of Finland Tarja Halonen. YSSP dialogue session “Interaction between World Leaders and Future Thought Leaders”, August 19, 2016. Photo: Matthias Silveri | IIASA
Last edited: 23 November 2017
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