PE&RC in the Spotlight: Dr. Mariana Gliesch Silva

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Every month we put a PE&RC member in the spotlight. This month we are getting to know Dr. Mariana Gliesch Silva. She is a post-doc at IBED, part of Prof. Franciska de Vries' Plant-Soil Ecology group. 

What are you passionate about in your research?
I’m passionate about describing the mechanisms responsible for maintaining plant species diversity in a changing world, especially the role that associating with different soil microorganisms has in mediating species performance under drought. Recently, I’ve also become more and more passionate about describing how plant-soil interactions mediate changes in soil carbon and feedbacks to climate change.

Do you prefer fieldwork, lab work, literature research or writing?
In my current project I am combining different experimental approaches: fieldwork, greenhouse and many measurements in the lab (physical-chemical and molecular) and I have never been happier writing about these findings, so I think I prefer all of it!

What is the greatest challenge or struggle you have ever faced?
Coming back to my postdoc work after time away on maternity leave has been the greatest challenge I’ve ever faced. Trying to find the joy in my work again, while facing innumerous barriers as a new (expat) mom in academia, including the uncertainty about getting a contract extension for the time I went away on maternity leave, being sleep-deprived, pumping at the back of the van while in the field, having to miss out on important social events after work hours... I’m lucky to have many wonderful colleagues that have been making this transition more enjoyable, but I’m still finding it hard and it definitely makes me question if I want to stay in academia.

What is your most prized possession?
My hair comb! Hahaha I’ve had it for more than 20 years and it is the best one ever, I can’t imagine my hair without it.

What is on your bucket list?
Seeing the northern lights in Iceland.

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