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Member Spotlight: Dr Lívia Cristina Pinto Dias

Category Member Spotlight

Dr Lívia Cristina Pinto Dias (she/her) is a professor with the Department of Environmental Engineering at the Federal University of Ouro Preto, Brazil. She is an environmental engineer with with a PhD in Applied Meteorology. Her research focus is on the interaction atmosphere-biosphere (wow!). Lívia has recently become a mum and has been juggling work and motherhood (working mums are superheroes!).
We fired a couple of questions at Lívia. Check it out!

How would you describe your cultural background?

I am a white Brazilian Catholic. I was born in a small town called Santo Antônio do Monte, Minas Gerais, Brazil. My parents have no higher education and most of my family’s efforts have focused on furthering our education. As a result, I am an engineer and I have a sister who is a dentist.

Can you tell us a little bit about your educational background?

I studied in public schools all my life, but I always had the support to study alone in addition to home-schooling. During high school, I was also an electromechanical technician at the Federal Center for Technological Education in Minas Gerais (CEFET-MG Campus Divinópolis), Brazil. In 2006, I started to study Environmental Engineering at the Federal University of Viçosa, Brazil. My family didn’t have the financial resources to support my studies. So, I applied to and won a scholarship to cover the costs of food and housing. During my Bachelor’s degree, I feel in love with the research I did for my undergraduate research project. So I pursued further where I received my Master’s Degree in Agricultural Meteorology in 2013, and in 2017 I was awarded my PhD in Applied Meteorology.

What motivated you to become an engineer?

My father always liked to invent toys and let me participate in the construction process, as well as play with me after it was done. With that, I always enjoyed trying to understand how the world worked based on physics, chemistry and biology. Also, when I was a teenager, my mom enrolled me in the Kumon method of studying maths (because I was getting low grades in school) and I discovered a wonderful world in numbers.

How do you balance your personal and work life?

I was always a workaholic and had no balance between personal and work life. Motherhood changed that radically. Knowing that there is a baby dependent on my care and that he expects affection from me, made me put a limit on working hours, improve my weekly planning, and know how to say “no” when I think the work will demand more from me than I want to give. I’ve been trying to be truly present when I’m with my son and not think about work.

Who are your role model/s?

My doctoral advisor is my model of professionalism, Prof. Marcos Heil Costa.

What were the difficulties you have faced as a woman in engineering?

I was lucky to have belonged to a research group with a female majority. Therefore, I have never suffered any kind of harassment or discrimination. My current difficulties are related to maternity: there is no structure or forecast of stops for milk extraction while I’m working, the same productivity is demanded as there was before maternity (even having a baby who gets sick), and there is no flexibility in deadlines.

Thank you, Lívia, for sharing a bit of your story with us. Your story allows us to show the diversity that can (and must) exist within engineering. We wish you all the best in your journey!

If you would like to see more of Lívia’s work, visit her website here.