Tell us a bit about yourself.
My name is Marie-Alix Dalle. My country of birth is France and I am a thermodynamic researcher at RUES department, University of Luxembourg.
Tell us about your educational background.
Trained as a generalist engineer in one of the top engineering schools in France (Polytechnique X), with a specialization waster on water treatment and quality from Berkeley, I now work on the energy efficiency of membrane distillation in the thermodynamic team of RUES of University of Luxembourg.
Tell us about your science.
My research topic is to try to reuse wasted heat, or heat from the sun to turn dirty/salty water into fresh water via evaporation the most effectively possible by ensuring that nothing constrains evaporation. An experimentation allows to observe the impacts of different parameters on the efficiency.
When did you decide a PhD was something you wanted to do?
PhD was in my mind since the end of my studies, but at that time I did not feel confident enough to start one. After 3 years as a project engineer on innovative projects at Suez, I realized that science and research in the commercial world did not fit me, and decided to go back to academia.
Briefly describe your average work day as a PhD student.
Asking myself a lot of questions, sometimes directly related to my topic, sometimes not, reading a lot of articles to try to answer those questions, interacting with my colleagues, implement codes to simulate phenomenons and then try to observe and measure this phenomenon experimentally.
What would you say your biggest challenges have been so far in your PhD journey?
My biggest challenge is to design and manufacture a prototype that does not leak and allow me to make precise observations and measurements in a limited amount of time and budget.
Aside from your PhD, what other things are you passionate about? What activities you do in your free time?
I am passionate about sciences and environment. I am engaged in associations promoting a transition towards a more sustainable way of life, cooperative shop, gardening, community projects… And above all I am passionate by Science and Science communication and sensitization, and spend my free time learning about any science-related topic and designing and proposing activities to help people understand scientific concepts easily. I am a maker and have always 100 low-tech do-it-yourself projects running (recycling, upcycling, furniture, green-house, low-tech loud-speaker etc).
What is your ideal job and what skills do you currently possess that will help you land this job?
My ideal job marries science, research and education, to help transition towards a sustainable world. It could be an engineering job, tackling a global challenge in a sustainable way, or an education job spreading science-based knowledge to provide tools and critical thinking widely. The ideal job is deprived of green-washing and interests conflicting with the aim of a sustainable world. My current skills helping me are my passion for science and environment thanks to which I am always eager to learn more to understand and experiment, while exerting critical thinking. This passion also gives ground to my strong engagement and investment, and my eagerness to share.
Are you currently working on any side projects? Tell us about them.
Aside of my PhD, I am participating in the implementation of a cooperative grocery shop – it is about group work, cooperation, volunteering, building together, starting from scratch. I am also working on the idea of spreading basics on energy conferences (like it is done in France) in all programs of University, and on a hands-on workshop to explain the energy challenges to a lay audience. On a personal scale I am starting to grow my own food and try to limit my impact.
What drives you?
What drives me is love for life, curiosity and desire to understand. And above all the urge to participate to make the world a better place. I am particularly amazed by how nature R&D process already came up with optimized solutions for most of the challenges humans are facing and trying to solve.
What is your ultimate ambition in life?
My ultimate ambition in life is to contribute to make the World a better place.