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The scientist pathway

Ok, well, I discovered now that the PhD blogs are directly reported at the home of FuseNet website  O.O (together with that my photo in a very philosophic position). How they say in the country where I live now: KEEP CALM, and about the Amazon voucher I was joking!

So, today, a brief story about how I decided to be a scientist  :)  (maybe nobody cares but I'm supposed to write something...)

All began in my childhood, I had a book designed for young scientist that spurs to explain, with a scientific method, why some object don’t sink in the water and other facts like the fly.

At 13 I started to look nature wider, I cut a map of the sky from my school book and during a summer camping I was used to isolate in the night to detect each constellation of the boreal hemisphere.

Afterwards my interests moved on botanic and geology. I liked the silent life of plants and was amazing see the grow of a bean day after day, I was also fascinated by the majesty of crystals. My parents were desperate because my room became a laboratory where I tried to break stones (with the hope to find inside nice crystals). At the end, my ambition was to develop crystals more beautiful that nature is able to do.

At 15 I enrolled at the scientific high school. I didn’t care too much of the next, except in the last year of the studies when one of the most important choice of life becomes too near. And in that period I saw this video (in Italian) about the newborn materials science discipline. The presenter is Piero Angela, the most famous popularizer of science in my country, example of scientific journalism. I was always used to follow his TV program SuperQuark from childhood. I realized that this subject would have been the closest to my interests: manipulate the matter on my desires and create new orders.

I was fortunate that in my city (Rome) there was on of the six universities in Italy who teach materials science, and so at 19 I enrolled in this course of studies. Together with me there were many others which saw that video but changed the studies and now they curse Piero Angela and the day that were fascinated by that science  XD. In my case I didn’t lose time and I completed my studies in schedule. At 23, during my last year of my second level degree in materials science, I started to look the next: I really wanted myself in research. The professor who assisted me at the thesis helped me to understand the beauty of this job, where routine is something absent, where every day is different and puts you new challenges.

Research on what? I wasn’t interested anymore in crystals, metals attracted my attention in that period: maybe for their importance in the history of humanity, or maybe because they shiny as crystals.

I wanted to go abroad from Italy and change air. Unfortunately, without any real working experience and a title of study from a "worldwide famous university", no private institution replied to my applications. Keeping in mind research, I decided so to look for a PhD in super alloys of nickel, the main material of engines in the modern aviation.

I considered the topic a very big challenge, with relevant environmental benefits since you reduce emissions if you can increase the temperature of the engine without materials disease. I pointed so England, stronghold of the Rolls-Royce, and especially the University of Manchester, with the biggest school of materials in the country.

Whoever isn’t from an English speaking country and tried to study abroad, knows that one great obstacle for any PhD application is the certificate of English language: IELTS in UK and TOFEL in USA. After a lot of sacrifices I was able to submit my application together with the appropriate IELTS certificate. I remember that I studied in every moment of the day, even during the big snowfall in Rome (February 2012) I was studying at home although in my city everyone was playing since it is an incredible event (every 20 years), and in the subway instead to hear music I was listening at loop the English alphabet.

I was 24 and a PhD position on super alloys didn’t seem available in that period, but I have been contacted by my actual supervisor who proposed to me a project about vanadium alloys for fusion energy. This topic was very uncommon for me, but suddenly I understood the greatness of such materials challenge and I decided suddenly to jump in that adventure.