Cristina Catita works in IDL as a Geospatial Engineer, but she is also deeply involved in the organization of the Jobshop of the Faculty of Sciences of the University of Lisbon and other projects, such as the development of a 3D virtual campus of the Faculty. She is the “Guess Who” interviewee of the month.
IDL – Cristina, within IDL, you work together with geologists, climatologists, geophysicists… Can you explain the work of a Geospatial Engineer and why this work can be applied in so many different areas?
Cristina Catita (CC) – Geospatial Engineering has the particularity of being an interdisciplinary area that supports many other areas of the Earth sciences. Our study object is of course the Earth, but also the technologies to accurately measure it, the processes to correctly handle these measurements and the rules and techniques to better represent all geographic features derived from those measurements. We can say that is a collaborative field and because of that geospatial engineers integrate easily multidisciplinary teams with geologists, climatologists, geophysicists, geographers, engineers … They all need our support to rigorously acquire geospatial data and to properly represent that data in geographic databases.
IDL – Can you summarize the main achievements of your research and why are they important?
CC – Due to the interdisciplinarity of our field and the diversity of techniques and technologies we use, we are able to work with colleagues from different research groups. In fact, I belonged to 3 different groups within IDL: Natural Hazards, Energy and Earth Surface Processes and I work frequently with researchers from the other groups. My capacity of working on and adapting to a large variety of scientific topics is recognized by several IDL colleagues and my participation in projects is often requested due to my knowledge on technologies associated to the geographic information systems and methodologies of spatial data analysis.
IDL – What can you tell us about one of your most recent projects, the 3D Virtual Campus project?
CC – The FCUL 3D Virtual Campus is a team project. Initially, there were 4 people involved: a colleague of mine, two Master’s students and me. Later on and after our insistence, the Direction of the Faculty agreed on hiring a person to work on the project full-time. Because of that, during the last year there was a great progress in the project. At this moment, practically all the spaces in the Faculty are inserted into the geographic database and properly classified. The applications of this 3D product are immense and can directly support all the Faculty’s units of service, its management, maintenance and planning.
IDL – You manage the organization of the Jobshop of FCUL since 2016. What motivates you to be involved in this initiative?
CC – I was invited by FCUL’s Direction in 2016 to organize the Jobshop. This event hosts companies and institutions from all the study areas of the Faculty. Since I like challenges and I enjoy organizing events, I immediately accepted the invitation. The organization team includes FCUL’s employability office and the student’s association. It is an immense effort which involves practically all the service units of FCUL, departments, teachers and students. We have to deal with a lack of human resources and material, but we do our best and fortunately the Jobshop has improved considerably over the past 3 years, reaching a level of quality which is recognized by the companies that participate in it and by our students. More important than this recognition, is the fact that a significant number of our students have proposals for employment or attractive internships, as a result of the contacts established during the Jobshop, and that is worth all the effort!
IDL – Do you have any advice to give to young researchers who are starting their career?
CC – Whatever you do, do it with passion! Always remember that science and scientific knowledge have a primordial purpose. Rather than publishing papers in scientific journals, remember that your contribution is important to help the civil society and that people can benefit from your research.
IDL – Work, passion or luck? What contributes the most to the success of a scientist?
CC – All of them!