Researcher Spotlight : Maria Suella Rodrigues

Published: 21 February 2019

Maria Suella Rodrigues discusses her interests in environmental issues with Kirsty McWhinnie...

Maria Suella Rodrigues article pic‌‌‌Can you tell us about your background? where did you study before Glasgow?
I come from an Economics background. I hold a BSc and MRes in Economics from Lancaster University and the University of Glasgow, respectively.

How did you become interested in science?
I strongly believe in education and I was always fascinated by the way the economy works. Later, during my postgraduate studies I became interested in the big environmental issues we face these days and wanted to explore its relation to economic activity. As a result, both my MRes dissertations were focused on applied environmental economics.

What can you tell us about your PhD research?
My PhD research focuses on modelling farmer and consumer preferences in relation to farm animal health and welfare. Farm- animal welfare is a big issue in the UK, with many social and economic consequences. As a member of a larger inter-disciplinary project (FIELD project), I have the opportunity to collaborate and work alongside researchers from various disciplines and tackle my research questions from different perspective.

Why did you decide to do your PhD in IBACHM/UofG?
The University of Glasgow has many excellent researchers in my field of study. I was interested in environmental and applied economics and I received the opportunity to be supervised by Professor Nick Hanley and to be part of an inter-disciplinary project of my interest.

What do you find most interesting about your work?
The diversity of disciplines involved in the project allows me to think of my research questions from various perspectives and work alongside renowned researchers.

What has been the most positive aspect so far?
The most positive aspect thus far has been finding a mentor who helped me become an independent researcher and pursue the questions that interest me. Additionally, being part of an inter-disciplinary project has provided me with the opportunity to meet people who try to tackle the same issues from different perspectives. Thanks to the project I have been able to travel, meet fellow researchers and develop my quantitative skills.

What has been the most challenging aspect so far?
It is definitely time management. A PhD is an independent piece of work, you don't have to go to classes or sit exams and as a result you need to be able to motivate yourself to work on a daily basis on your topic and not deviate.

What advice would you give to anyone doing or considering PhD?
Pursuing a PhD is very demanding and requires a lot of self-discipline. In a very short-time, you have to master many skills and produce something novel towards your field of study. My advice to anyone wanting to pursue a PhD is to find a topic of research that really interests you and a supervisor with someone who is compatible with you.

Tell us about your plans for the future
In the immediate future, my plan includes designing and implementing my surveys to model consumer and farmer preferences in relation to farm animal health and welfare. As for my long-term plans, as I am still in the early stages of my PhD, I do not know what will come my way. But I hope this experience will give me the tools and the confidence to pursue my own independent research as well as collaborate successfully with other researchers in the future.

Maria will be giving us a rundown of her research as part of the Friday Seminar Series in the GKB Lecture Theatre 1, Feb 22, starting at 4pm. Why not come along and give her your support?

First published: 21 February 2019