New challenges: here I am!

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Interview by Alessandra Mazzai

She gets lost without her Moleskine planner and bored without new, exciting challenges to face. A conversation with Valentina Mereu, the patriotic Sardinian researcher from the IAFES division.

What’s your job at the CMCC Foundation?

Most of my work is to assess the impacts of climate change on agricultural production and the effects of adaptation and mitigation strategies, mainly through the application of crop simulation models driven by climate change projections. Recently, I also worked on projects that support public administrations in planning adaptation strategies at different scales, from national to local.

What brought you to CMCC?

I have followed CMCC’s activities since it began. As a PhD student at the University of Sassari – one of CMCC’s founding members – I was already collaborating on many research projects. In 2015 I was hired by the IAFES Division, which is based in Sassari.

Is your current job the one you used to dream of as a child?

Over the years I have changed my mind many times… I tend to keep shifting my attention towards new goals and projects because I get bored with static situations. Maybe it was this job – anything but monotonous – that found me! Here, evolution is continuous. You face new challenges every day and you meet people from all over the world, thanks to international projects and the opportunity to travel, interact with colleagues and enrich your personal and professional baggage. It is exciting, and I think that few other jobs can compare.

Tell us about a special moment during your time at CMCC

The best moments are those that involve new challenges. It is hard to choose one, but perhaps coordinating the work in support of the Ministry of the Environment for the preparation of the National Adaptation Plan to Climate Change, was one of the most beautiful challenges of these years, despite the difficulties.

What do you keep at your workstation?

A bit of chaos, to be honest! There are many documents of projects and publications, some of which “just in case I need them again”. Over the last few years, my desk has been adorned with souvenirs from Lebanon, given to me by the Lebanese PhD student I supervise who brings me something every time she returns from a trip home. Maybe she thought that my desk was too sad! Moreover – take this technology! – I can’t live without my Moleskine planner: if I were to forget it at home, I would be lost!!

What ritual is never missing from your workday?

I cannot start a workday without coffee. I drink the first one at home as soon as I get up, reading e-mails, and I have the second/third when I reach the office. It’s a habit I acquired at university, it helps me concentrate better.

How do you travel to work?

By foot, a ten-minute walk which I can’t do without. In the morning, I think about what I have to do during the day, and in the evening about what I have done and what is missing. In these moments I can see things more objectively, and I can often find the solutions I need to solve problems.

What do you do in your spare time?

The swimming pool, with its muffled sounds and contact with water, is a place where I relax a couple of times a week. During the weekend instead, I spend time with my husband, family, and friends, since I live away from them all week. I love traveling, and as soon as I return from a trip, I am already planning the next one! I go to the cinema or theatre when I can. I am also a lover of good food and I like to experiment with the cuisine of great chefs. Finally, I often fall into the “circle of Hell” of TV series: among my favourites are Mad Men, Breaking Bad, House of Cards, and The Crown, just to name a few.

Movies or literature: give me a title and explain your choice

In some periods, I prefer to read, in others I get lazy and prefer movies. If I have to choose a single title, I would play the “patriotic” card and say “The man who bought the moon”, a recently released film by a Sardinian director (Paolo Zucca), which I loved. It is a surreal, comic and poetic film, which highlights the “fundamentals” of us Sardinians. Instead, if we talk about literature, I prefer novels, especially the classics of the 1800s, from Jane Austen to Emily Brontë, Tolstoy, Flaubert, Dostoevsky, and of course Oscar Wilde… it is impossible to give you a title!

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