Education

Icelandic road trip

Le

Léa Lévy, a former student at the Institute for Technology and Innovation of PSL (PSL-ITI) is passionate about Iceland and its volcanoes. Margaux Dzuilka, a student at Dauphine’s Institut Pratique du Journalisme (IPJ), followed along with her camera in hand during this scientific mission. The team traveled to Krafla, in the north of the country, to explore this geological treasure. Focus on this PSL collaboration around geosciences.

Léa Lévy et Margaux Dzuilka en mission scientifique en Islande

From left to right: Léa Lévy, Jean Vandemeulebrouck, head of the volcano geophysics team Isterre Chambéry, and Margaux Dzuilka on the ground in Krafla.

Léa Lévy, a former student at the Institute for Technology and Innovation of PSL (PSL-ITI) is passionate about Iceland and its volcanoes. Margaux Dzuilka, a student at Université Paris-Dauphine’s Institut Pratique du Journalisme (IPJ), followed along with her camera in hand during this scientific mission. The team traveled to Krafla, in the north of the country, to explore this geological treasure. Focus on this PSL collaboration around geosciences.

Former student at PSL-ITI, MINES ParisTech geosciences graduate, and current PhD student within Ecole normale supérieure’s (ENS) geology lab, Lea is above all passionate about geothermal energy. This renewable energy results from the heat stored under the Earth and can be found in Iceland. Lea admits that Iceland is a country she has "never really left" since her first visit where she did fieldwork around Icelandic volcanoes. From this trip, her first observations as a researcher were born, and beautiful encounters were made, including the meeting between Léa and Margaux. They comment this experience at the crossroads of disciplines in unknown territory.

PSL: Margaux, you come from IPJ Dauphine and Léa from PSL-ITI. Two extremely different paths. How were you connected to each other?

L.L: It was obvious to the team going on this Iceland mission, that we wanted to make a video report of our trip, and we would need a "reporter" on the team. The PSL-ITI service then contacted IPJ Dauphine and we were able to meet several students with Pierre Briole, my thesis supervisor at ENS. We chose Margaux.

M.D: I saw the ad posted in the IPJ Facebook group. I found the idea of collaborating with scientists in Iceland very intriguing and it made me dream, so I contacted PSL-ITI who put me in touch with Lea. We discussed via Skype and it seemed to me that from the beginning, we were on the same wavelength, despite our very different backgrounds.

PSL: Margaux, this trip to Iceland was based on a scientific field expedition and you were surrounded by a large majority of scientific researchers. Are there, in this rather particular context, specific things that stood out for you? What did you discover / learn from this trip?

M.D: It is true that I was afraid, in the midst of all these scientific researchers, that I might not understand much of the discussions. However, I was immediately integrated into the group as if I were part of the team. And then there were moments of complicity out of the field. I recall a memorable evening where we joked around the typical recipes of the countries of each member, from Italy to Russia, passing by Iceland of course. All in “frenglish” and very funny.

I was surprised by the constant physical effort that each researcher had to provide during the mission. They were shooting 1.5 km cables through volcanoes for 8 hours a day for 12 days, rain or shine. It was impressive to see them motivating themselves every morning, driven by the desire to obtain scientific results that seemed to me indecipherable.

With Léa, we also discussed the life of scientific researchers. The publication requirements, competition, the need for recognition. Also pitfalls to avoid, like giving in to the pressure of steering results dramatically to satisfy the companies that fund the research. Lea has a solid perspective on this job, which allowed me to discover all the unknown facets of this world.

PSL: The goal of your collaboration was to popularize, through video content, the work of Lea and the researchers in the field. Did it require special work?

L.L: In order to contextualize my trip, I had to think about issues that are obviously interesting to the viewer but that have never been asked in these terms to me – questions such as, "why go to Iceland? " I had never really thought about it, it seemed natural to me. It was necessary to immerse myself in memories and trace the sequence of events. Margaux also helped me to edit my speech to remove all the overly technical words, even those that I thought were quite understandable. She did not hesitate to tell me when she did not understand. It was a bit like playing "neither yes nor no," the most useful / common words that I use to talk about my work were forbidden. It's an interesting exercise. Margaux played the role of project manager very well.

M.D: Since I had absolutely no knowledge of geophysics, Lea had to find the simplest words so that I could understand the stakes of the mission, the purpose of the field measurements and the meaning of her research. Then I had to think about how to display all this information. Again, we spent hours walking among the volcanoes discussing the most relevant way to get the message across.

 

 

First of three videos of Léa Lévy's scientific mission to Iceland, immortalized by Margaux Dzuilka's camera.

PSL: Did you know the institute of each other before meeting, or were you familiar with the diversity of PSL?

L.L: No I did not know the IPJ before. I knew there were rather literary schools & institutes in PSL, but I had a very vague idea.

M.D: I knew the ENS, but PSL-ITI not at all. I remember one afternoon in the field where we had a lot of discussion about our respective training. Léa explained to me the issues of this year PSL-ITI, the courses and projects in which she participated, and how that could shape her future. I told her about our collaboration at the IPJ with the students of MINES ParisTech and those of the Master 226 of Université Paris Dauphine who are part of PSL. It was concluded that all these collaborations were eminently rewarding.

PSL: If you had to define your collaboration in a few words?

L.L: Funny, relaxed, interesting ... and proud to have the result at the end. Sometimes I was so tired (physically and emotionally) that I was too lazy to move forward in the videos, but in fact, it made me feel good, it was a welcome break with the sources of stress related to the logistics of the mission. We are in "robot" mode on the field, and to take a step back like that was great. Margaux was very involved with the group, so it was never too heavy.

M.D: I would first say that our collaboration was surprisingly simple and natural. Sometimes I did not even have time to finish my sentence because Lea had already understood what I wanted to explain. This really made our work more efficient. So yes, we sometimes had differences of opinion. But this is where it became enriching: I understood the importance of scientific rigor and the dangerousness of the approximations and I believe that Léa discovered the constraints and rules related to the job of the journalist.

PSL: Would you like to repeat the experience?

L.L: Definitely!

M.D: Yes, it should even be included in the IPJ program!

Read more about the Institute for Technology and Innovation of PSL (PSL-ITI), a doctoral program designed to help future engineers, researchers and entrepreneurs