Mariette Vreugdenhill

Titel

Dr. techn. M.Sc.

Academic age

7 years

Studies/Specification

M.Sc. Earth Science (Amsterdam)

PhD Remote Sensing

Interview date

January 21st, 2019

My main research interest is to improve our understanding of dynamics and interactions of vegetation, soil moisture and climate drivers using remote sensing. The fascination with Earth and its dynamics came during my high school time. My favorite subject was always geography and especially climate, meteorology and plate tectonics, partly because my geography teacher was very enthusiastic about this. Therefore I decided to study Earth Sciences with a specialization in Physical Geography and Applied Environmental Geosciences. My focus on remote sensing of Earth's surface only came during my final Master thesis research project. I got the chance to go to Australia to participate in a fieldwork campaign to calibrate and validate a new soil moisture satellite of the European Space Agency. Although it was exceptionally hot to measure soil moisture in central Australia, I really enjoyed it and was fascinated by what you can measure with satellites. From this fieldwork and my inspiring supervisor I decided to pursue an academic career in remote sensing of soil moisture.

 

My Master thesis research really convinced me to focus on remote sensing. But I would have never been so motivated if it wasn't for my master thesis supervisor Dr. Richard de Jeu. He inspired me throughout my studies and he also recommended me for a PhD position here at TU Wien. So without him I would not have gotten a PhD position here at TU Wien.
During and after my PhD Prof. Dr. Wolfgang Wagner gave me the freedom and opportunity to define my own research interests. He also gave me the possibility and motivated me to write proposals, including applying for a ESA Fellowship which I was awarded. This was the basis to finally obtain a Senior Scientist position at TU Wien.

 

Yes, in some ways. I started my academic career working as a student-assistant for field excursions and lab practicals during my B.Sc. One of the reasons I got this position was that the gender-balance was heavily skewed and they needed more women as staff. This student-assistant job was something that helped me build my CV and I think also contributed to get the position as PhD. So although I always worked very hard to get where I am now and it is most certainly not the only reason I was hired as a PhD and stayed on as a PostDoc at TU Wien, I know my academic career was kick-started because they needed women in the team.

I think having a private activity from which you can get energy from and recharge is very important. Not only for women, but for everyone. And not having a family, it is still easy to balance my professional and personal life and find time to recharge being outdoors.

I often get the feeling that women are more inclined to feel that they are not good enough for a position, the so-called impostor syndrome. This might also be driven by sometimes having this feeling that you got the job or only were invited on an interview because you are a woman. Although this might be difficult from time to time, I think believing in yourself is the most important thing there is and especially try not to doubt your accomplishments and achievements and enjoy your work.