Research portrait: Maximilian Wanner

PhD student at Department of Government, Uppsala University.

  • What is your area of expertise?

I am studying progress and change in disaster risk reduction from a political science perspective, both on the global and national level. It is important to me to shift our focus away from the catastrophes and emphasise what we humans can achieve by highlighting processes and mechanisms of change.

  • What sparked your interest in Natural Hazards and Disaster Science?

Already during my undergraduate studies, I became interested in climate change processes and in the question why we were not doing more. Back then, I decided to stay on the mitigation side and write my master thesis on leadership in solar energy. After that, I thought I would keep exploring complex governance structures in connection to renewable energy politics and mitigation. However, the CNDS community got me hooked and inspired me to jump over on the adaptation side. In particular, since I felt that mitigation was not moving fast enough, while societies and communities need to adapt to changing circumstances at a higher pace. Seeing and hearing about all the disasters occurring every day in the world, I felt that I wanted and could contribute to enabling a more sustainable future.

  • If I could only work on one problem in Natural Hazards and Disaster Science it would be our best practices and how can made further progress towards resilient, sustainable futures, because there is so much knowledge out there that could be documented, analysed and understood to potentially be scaled-up and used in different contexts. For instance, indigenous knowledge may include strategies how me can address climate change adaptation on a larger scale. Ideas from other areas may be translated into action in disaster risk reduction and might help us to get at the root causes of vulnerability of societies such as social inequalities. In the end, if we eradicated vulnerability, we would eliminate the risk for disaster.
     
  • What book or paper has been most influential to your career and why?

That would have been the article in Nature Climate Change “Emergence of polycentric climate governance and its future prospects” by Andrew J. Jordan, Dave Huitema, Mikael Hildén, Harro van Asselt, Tim J. Rayner, Jonas J. Schoenefeld, Jale Tosun, Johanna Forster, and Elin L. Boasson. This article was key and inspiration when I wrote up my applications for PhD positions and proposed a research project.

  • What do you like to do when you’re not working on research?

I very much enjoy being in nature, regardless whether it is for a hike or skiing, looking at the rough sea or high mountain tops. There is nothing more beautiful than a winter landscape of fragile frozen things untouched and undisturbed. Other than that, I love getting together with friends for boardgames or old-school Pen&Paper roleplaying games à la Dungeons & Dragons

  • What is your golden tip for current early career scientists?

Put your imposter syndrome in a corner as you start to build your own area expertise. Be open-minded and do not get lost in your tiny research gap, but try to get a wider understanding of things and try to find people you would like to work with.

Maximilian's profile on Uppsala University's website.

Research portrait: Elisa Savelli

Elisa Savelli free time

PhD student at the Department of Earth Sciences, Uppsala University

  • What is your area of expertise?

I am interested in water and its socio-environmental extremes. In particular, I investigate the manner and extent to which social power and inequalities can reshape the occurrence of hydrological extremes like droughts and floods.

  • What sparked your interest in natural hazards and disaster science?

My privilege and the awareness of its injustice made me think I should do something about it. So, I started as a project manager in disadvantaged countries and I am continuing to understand the root causes and the consequences of such injustices in academia.

  • If I could only work on one problem/issue/challenge in natural hazards and disaster science it would be about inequalities and the injustices therein, because inequalities are amongst the root causes of many disasters including droughts and floods.
     
  • What book or paper has been most influential to your career and why?

The Book by David Harvey "A Brief History of Neoliberalism" and an article written by Erik Swyngedouw entitled " Governance innovation and the citizen: The Janus face of governance-beyond-the-state." Both publications helped me foster my critical thinking toward a clear direction and paved the way for my future engagement with critical social studies.

  • What do you like to do when you’re not working on research?

Many things... I love reading and losing myself into novels, I enjoy cinema as a form of art, I like acting and being part of a theatre group whenever I find one that suits me. What else do I like? Doing yoga every morning is amongst the best cures for my stress, also running when I can... And, despite potential hangovers, I love drinking good wine with good friends.

  • What is your golden tip for early career scientists?

If it is possible and you are not struggling with life's major troubles, I would suggest to be passionate about what you do, to choose a project that is able to wake you up every morning and stay up late at night... I would do something that is worth fighting for because... "As much as you believe yourselves absolved, you’re all, forever, involved” (De Andrè, Canzone Del Maggio 1973)

Research portrait: Elena Mondino

Elena Mondino climbing

Researcher at the Department of Earth Sciences, Uppsala University

  • What is your area of expertise?

I mainly work with the perception of drought and flood risk, investigating how it changes over time, what factors influence it and how it in turn influences people’s behaviour toward the hazard.

  • What sparked your interest in natural hazards and disaster science?

Because I always wanted to do something that brings together the social and the natural sciences, disaster science seemed like a natural outlet for me. There is no disaster risk reduction without research in both aspects of it, the natural and the social.

  • If I could only work on one problem/issue/challenge in natural hazards and disaster science it would be the spread of misinformation at the early stages of a crisis, because it has the power of influencing everything that comes afterwards – from authorities’ decision making to people’s perceptions and behaviours.
     
  • What book or paper has been most influential to your career and why?

I would definitely put “Judgement under Uncertainty: Heuristics and Biases” on the podium, article written in 1974 by Amos Tversky and Daniel Kahneman and published in Science. This paper completely changed the way I look at people’s behaviour and decision making. Absolutely a must-read!

  • What do you like to do when you’re not working on research?

Whenever I’m outside the office, I rock climb, run, and practice yoga. I also enjoy gardening, baking, and knitting – I need something to disconnect from work for every type of weather, year-round!

  • What is your golden tip for early career scientists?

Even though I’m still an ECR myself, my golden tip is to set boundaries between work and private life immediately. Even though there may be exceptions, and times in which there are many deadlines approaching, for me there is no such thing as emails or work outside working hours or in the weekends. Working longer (or all the time) does definitely not equal working better, quite the opposite

Research portrait: Emma Rhodes

Emma Rhodes rope climbing a mountain

PhD student at the Department of Earth Sciences, Uppsala University

  • What is your area of expertise?
I research how accumulates in the crust beneath volcanoes, and what processes within the magma reservoirs may trigger volcanoes to erupt.
  • What sparked your interest in natural hazards and disaster science?
I was always curious about how the earth works, and how this planet we live on came to be and why the landscape looks as it does. My home country (Aotearoa/New Zealand) is dynamically active with every natural hazard you can think of, and in particular I have experienced the major earthquakes of Christchurch 2010/2011
  • If I could only work on one problem/issue/challenge in natural hazards and disaster science it would be tough to choose. Now that I have finished my PhD and am looking towards future opportunities, there are so many different interesting paths that I could take.
     
  • What book or paper has been most influential to your career and why?
Firstly I learnt a lot from the Encyclopaedia of Volcanoes, and secondly Volcanic and Igneous Plumbing Systems by Steffi Burchardt!
  • What do you like to do when you’re not working on research?
Climb, and carve spoons and spatulas, and generally spend time in nature.
  • What is your golden tip for early career scientists?
Be curious, ask questions, take different opportunities, and make friends! But also, I believe that the best and most productive work is produced when a person is stable and has a work-life balance that works for them- so prioritise this.

Research portrait: Riccardo Biella

Riccardo Biella hanging on a cliff

PhD student at the Department of Earth Sciences, Uppsala University

  • What is your area of expertise?
With a BSc Physical Geography and a MSc in Disaster Risk Management and Climate Change Adaptation, I am an expert at not being an expert. Instead, I have invested my time acquiring a broad knowledge base, encompassing natural to social sciences. I believe holistic knowledge to be necessary to navigate in the complexity ridden waters of Climate Change Adaptation (CCA) with a critical mindset and drawing inspiration from different fields.
  • What sparked your interest in natural hazards and disaster science?
While being always interested in natural hazards from a natural science perspective, it was being accidentally involved in the response to a fire raging is a remote town of Chile that made me aware of the importance of understanding hazards from a social perspective.
  • If I could only work on one problem/issue/­challenge in natural hazards and disaster science it would be bridging science-to-policy, because I believe that the shortcomings of adaptation can be often attributed to poor management practices.
  • What book or paper has been most influential to your career and why?
The latest one that I read is DisasterologySamantha Montano sums up the two years of my MSc in a few hundred pages, all told from her personal experience and with a light, engaged, tone as practitioner and academic in the field of Disaster Risk Reduction. Must read!
  • What do you like to do when you’re not working on research?
I love climbing and I never waste a sunny weekend not going out to the crag!
  • What is your golden tip for early career scientists?
Never be afraid to stand up for your rights and your wellbeing. Research is work, you do not need to sacrifice your life for it!

Research portrait: Samuel Forsberg

Samuel Forsberg playing guitar

PhD student at the Department of Electrical Engineering, Uppsala University

  • What is your area of expertise?
Electrical power system analysis, with specialization on grid modelling.
  • What sparked your interest in natural hazards and disaster science?
The society’s dependency on electricity in relation to the energy system’s vulnerability to extreme weathers.
  • If I could only work on one problem/issue/challenge in natural hazards and disaster science it would be designing power systems resilient to extreme heat, because it is a field of high relevance.
  • What book or paper has been most influential to your career and why?
“The potential of using residential PV-battery systems to provide primary frequency control on a national level” (Luthander, Forsberg 2018). My first paper, based on my master thesis, that inspired me to begin my PhD studies.
  • What do you like to do when you’re not working on research?
Cook (and eat) food, play bass guitar, exercise, volunteer in church.
  • What is your golden tip for early career scientists?
Being a researcher is your profession. Make sure to have a life outside of academia. 
Last modified: 2022-10-04