The Greek Efthymia Pavlidou came to the Faculty of Geo-Information Science and Earth Observation (ITC) for a two-year master's programme, but became so fascinated by research into earthquakes she decided to stick around. Now she is working on doctoral research that hopefully will contribute to the improved prediction of earthquakes. "Performing research can sometimes be frustrating or overwhelming, but it gives me a lot of energy. Especially when you start discovering things."
After obtaining her bachelor's degree in Greece, Efthymia Pavlidou worked as a researcher in the field of environmental science for a few years. In order to develop further in her work, she decided to follow the master's programme Geo-information Science and Earth Observation for Natural Hazards and Disaster Risk Management at the ITC. "I wanted to focus on remote sensing. It enables you to perform research in the field of environmental science much more efficiently. In fact, it is not only more efficient, it is essential."
"I chose the ITC because it's the best, or one of the best institutes for studying remote sensing worldwide. Furthermore, the Netherlands has a very good reputation in the field of risk management. That is why I came to the ITC in the first place, but there are many reasons that have kept me here: the people I work with are very inspiring. My supervisors are not only brilliant and demanding, they are also very enthusiastic and not afraid to explore new things. The collaboration is really fantastic!"
After completing the master's programme, Pavlidou started her doctoral research, also at the ITC. "I am still concerned with disasters, but now I focus on earthquakes. I already became fascinated by this subject during my master's programme."
"We think we know a lot about earthquakes, but many processes are still unknown. We are still not able to properly predict earthquakes. However, there are many signals that are known to be harbingers of earthquakes."
In her research, Pavlidou focuses on one of these possible harbingers. She looks for anomalies in the thermal radiation emitted by the earth. These anomalies may be related to earthquakes, but there are many other possible causes such as the weather, seasonal cycles, forest fires and man-made 'heat islands'. Pavlidou: "I study whether the anomalies that we can observe with satellites from space can be linked to the earth's tectonic activity. Ultimately, I hope that we can use the method I am developing to predict earthquakes, but otherwise there are many other applications for my work."
Pavlidou loves working and studying at the ITC. "It is a very inspiring multicultural environment. It's amazing to see how much you have in common with people who have a completely different background. I have met many people here who I really regard as my 'family'."
Pavlidou is not exactly sure what she wants to do after her PhD. However, what she does know is that she has been seized for life by science in general, and earthquake research in particular. "Performing research can sometimes be frustrating or overwhelming, but it gives me a lot of energy. Especially when you start discovering things."