With experience gained through conducting geological research in many parts of the world and a mindset focused on strengthening underprivileged communities, Lorena Moscardelli shares her journey and insights with us in this fascinating interview.
What is your name, background and your current position?
Lorena Moscardelli, Venezuelan-American-Italian but mostly a Citizen of the World. I am also a Geoscientist and an Equinor Researcher. Currently living and working in Bergen, Norway. Interested in all kind of things but mostly I am interested in strengthening underprivileged communities.
How did you first become interested in geology?
I always liked topics that were linked to natural sciences, when I was at school in Caracas my favorite subjects were biology and chemistry. In fact, I thought I wanted to become a chemical engineer when I started college at Central University of Venezuela. One afternoon, just by fluke, I attended a presentation by a Geology professor, and I was absolutely mesmerized by this ability to read Earth’s history by just looking at rocks! What kind of magic was this? The following week I switched my study plan from the Chemical Engineering department to the Geological Engineering department. The rest is history!
What is your background and where have you worked as a geologist?
After getting my undergraduate degree at Central University of Venezuela I started to work as an exploration geologist for PDVSA. In 2003, I was recruited as a doctoral student at The University of Texas at Austin and after graduation I started to work for the Bureau of Economic Geology. While my tenure at BEG, I first worked for the State of Texas Advanced Resource Recovery group and then I joined the original Quantitative Clastic Laboratory team where I led the deep-water component of the program. During the next six years, and in collaboration with an amazing team of researchers and students, I conducted research in deep-water topics using data from around the world. I also lectured a graduate level class on subsurface geology and I supervised several PhD and master students. Hook’em Horns!
In 2013, I joined the Austin R&D division of Statoil (now Equinor) where I had the opportunity to work with a remarkable group of researchers. Most of my recent research output deals with basin highs in the Norwegian Continental Shelf, deep source rocks and with deep-water mixed siliciclastic-carbonate systems in the offshore area of Nova Scotia (check out our 2019 AAPG Bulletin paper!). A few months ago, I moved to Norway (Bergen) where I have been working in field development projects in the Vøring Basin and the Tampen-Spur region. I was the general chair of ACE2019 in San Antonio and I am also the leader of project S4SLIDE, an initiative of the International Geoscience Program and UNESCO (www.S4SLIDE.com).
Where have you done field work, and what were some of the things that impacted you?
The bulk of my work deals with subsurface data/interpretations but I think you really need to get very close to the rocks to understand what you are doing in the subsurface. I have done field work and visited field localities around the world including the Falcon Basin, Perija and other localities in Venezuela, the Chilean Patagonia, the Boso Peninsula in Japan, County Clare in Ireland, the Paradox Basin in Utah, the Ainsa Basin in Spain and many other places. I can also claim that once I managed to sample every known Mesozoic sandstone in Portugal for provenance studies.
Many things have made an impression on me over the years but the thing that always amazes me is the resilience that we all show when things get tough. As I write this, we are all facing the uncertainty that COVID-19 has brought to an already complicated world, still I get inspired every day by the student that manages to graduate, the professor that shares his/her lectures online, the professional organizations that continue to promote science, the colleagues that push to get the job done, the Zumba class that is delivered by a community member via Zoom!
What are some of the technologies that you believe could shape the energy transition?
Risking sounding boring and repetitive: Battery and transmission technologies. The challenges remain the same but perhaps the individuals who will solve the conundrums are already close to a breakthrough. Maybe? Climate change is real and we need to move into a cleaner energy future while fueling the needs of all in an equitable way. Let’s not forget that the lights are not always shinning for all in this world.
How have you diversified and strengthened yourself professionally in the last few years?
I honestly believed that professional careers need to be revitalized from time to time. In my case, I usually need a new challenge or something new to learn every 4 to 5 years. If I feel too comfortable in a position or place, then I know I am ready for the next challenge. I think it is also important to acknowledge that we don’t need to know it all when we get a new job. There are many things that you learn by just doing them so be kind to yourself, stop judging your skills, and tackle the new challenges with enthusiasm and diligence.
I always tell my former students and interns, as well as I keep reminding myself from time to time, that a job and a career are two different things so you can loose a job but what you know and how you conduct yourself are the very foundations of your career. Stay humble and don’t stop learning new things and developing new skills. Finally, if you can’t find joy on what you are doing perhaps you need to be doing something else.
What should people do during difficult times?(professionally / academically)
I’ll be brief on this one. Go for a walk or a hike, just go. Breath deep and be reassured that tomorrow is a new day to start.
Please recommend a few books.
- Soundings - The Story of The Remarkable Woman Who Mapped the Ocean Floor by Hali Felt
- Women in Science – 50 Fearless Pioneers who Changed the World by Rachel Ignotofsky
- A Brief History of Time by Stephen Hawking
- Steve Jobs by Walter Isaacson
- The Undocumented Americans by Karla Cornejo Villavicencio
- My Beloved World by Sonia Sotomayor
- The Art of War by Sun Tzu
- Rowing the Atlantic by Roz Savage
- Tracks by Robyn Davidson
- Wild by Cheryl Strayed