The Sassy Scientist – Far-field Access

The Sassy Scientist – Far-field Access

Every week, The Sassy Scientist answers a question on geodynamics, related topics, academic life, the universe or anything in between with a healthy dose of sarcasm. Do you have a question for The Sassy Scientist? Submit your question here.

Ali asks:

What is the best place to study geodynamics?

Dear Ali,

In your request you stated that you just finished your PhD; you’re free to go wherever you want and you’re ready to perform independent research now that you’ve been granted some funding. Time to go and do what you want to do – on your own. Since you’re a geodynamicist, your only basic need is a computer, paired with stable power and a high-speed internet connection. Below I list some thoughts on how to determine your future destination:

• I suppose you don’t want your views and opinions skewed by aggressive supervisors or know-it-all colleagues. This basically takes most of the European, North American and Oceanic universities off the table. Of course, you do want to take advantage of the company of some experienced colleagues.

• In your email you stated that you feel best in a calm and clean environment, so no overcrowded cities with smog and crazy weather patterns, or too high a seismic hazard. Let’s take the Asian institutions off the map too.

• You said you would like to attend conferences and workshops regularly, so you cannot be too far away from Europe and North America.

• Incidentally may want to relax a little, take your mind off the world’s geodynamics problems and just have some fun. Therefore, I will consider only places with some interesting geological or geodynamic imprint.

So. I think I’ve narrowed it down to two locations that would be perfect for you! They are exactly in between Europe and North America, so close-by in terms of traveling for field work and conferences. Additionally, in case you’re interested in obtaining funding in the future, you’re still eligible for ERC grants. Hence, I suggest you start booking tickets to either


Watch out for the volcanoes; you might end up stranded on the island(s). Even though it can get quite cold, there’s some nice hot springs to relax in. If you’re really into clean energy: easiest location in the world for geothermal energy. This is obviously due to its amazing location on top of a mantle plume, along the Mid-Atlantic Ridge: a geodynamicist’s dream. Lastly, when you’re done with science and fed up with the weather, you can always delve into Iceland’s world-renowned sagas.


The Azores

Located at another one of those magical features in plate tectonics, a triple junction above a plume, you’re ready to explore several islands that are located on three (!!!) plates. It doesn’t get too hot, nor does it get as frigid as Iceland, but there’s still enough volcanological beauty to soak in. Foodwise you’re way better off here than you would be in Iceland – instead of some weird national dishes like fermented shark or ram’s testicles, they’ve got everything (and I mean … everything) locally sourced. To die for.

Hope this helps you determine your future relocation plans!

Yours truly,

The Sassy Scientist

PS: This post was written after scouring the job postings sites for some interesting new places, but ending up at my travel agency.

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I am currently employed at a first tier research institute where I am continuously working with the greatest minds to further our understanding of the solid Earth system. Whether it is mantle or lithosphere structure and dynamics, solid Earth rheology parameters, earthquake processes, integrating observations with model predictions or inversions: you have read a paper of mine. Even if you are working on a topic I haven’t mentioned here, I still know everything about it. Do you have any problems in your research career? I have already experienced them. Do you struggle with your work-life balance? Been there, done that. Nowadays, I have only one hobby: helping you out by answering the most poignant questions in geodynamics, research and life. I am waiting for you right here. Get inspired.

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