Lucia Feriancikova; Ph.D. Student
Lucia Feriancikova came to UWM from Slovakia in the fall of 2008. She received both her Bachelor’s and Master’s degree from the Faculty of Natural Sciences at Comenius University in Bratislava, Slovakia. Comenius University is the largest in Slovakia, and it is financed mostly by the government. It is recognized as one of the most distinguished science-oriented institutions in Slovakia based on research productivity. The Faculty of Natural Sciences is presently one of the largest faculties there with areas of focus in biology, chemistry, environmental science, geography and geology. The Geology Department offers wide range of programs in Applied and Environmental Geophysics, Paleontology, Geology of Mineral Deposits, Hydrogeology, Engeneering Geology, Mineralogy and Petrology.
Lucia's Master’s study program was in Geology of Mineral Deposits focused on the environmental impacts of mining. She gained environmental experience by monitoring water and soil quality in abandoned mining area in Smolnik, southeastern Slovakia, as part of a project entitled “Environmental Waste by the Mining Industry”. This work became part of her Master’s thesis entitled “Content and mobilization potentially toxic elements in soils of the abandoned Smolnik mining area”
After completing undergraduate studies in Geology, her interests later took a new direction as she experienced water scarcity while living in Australia for three years. It made her aware of how scarce water is in some parts of the world, and she realized that the climate change affects water availability and quality. Although she did not pursue this topic immediately, she is happy to have gotten the chance to study it here at UWM.
At UWM, Lucia has decided to focus her interest in water resources by studying hydrogeology. Specifically, she will be looking at the relative effects of land use and climate changes on groundwater resources. She is joining a privately-funded joint project involving scientists from UWM and the US Geological Survey already in progress. It is focused on defining how to best sustain groundwater supplies in the rapidly urbanizing area of southeastern Wisconsin. Part of Lucia's role will be to examine the effects of different patterns of urban growth and projected climate changes on groundwater supplies over the next 30 to 50 years.
Lucia has spent her first three semesters at UWM acclimating to the US, both the lifestyle and the approach to graduate education. The classes she has taken at UWM are more practically oriented comparing with the largely theoretical focus of classes at Comenius University. In Slovakia, students are not asked to give many presentations in classes, while here students give presentations on a regular basis. She points out that these presentations, especially making them in English, have been the hardest transition for her.
In addition to her studies at UWM, she has been serving as a teaching assistant, another opportunity to become more comfortable with English. Lucia’s projected completion date for her Ph.D. from UWM is late 2012, early 2013.
- What is your field of study and how would you describe it to a prospective graduate student?
My field of study is hydrogeology, and I focus on groundwater quantity. My research consists of modeling impacts of different urban development patterns (cluster, sprawl development) and climate change on ground water resources.
- What brought you to UWM to study Geosciences for your graduate degree?
After I completed my studies at Comenius University in Bratislava, I came to visit my sister who lives in Milwaukee. At that time, I was deciding whether to work toward my doctorate degree. A friend of mine who studied at the University of Wisconsin Milwaukee recommended continuing my studies here at UWM. Although my Master’s degree is in Geology of Mineral Deposits, I have been always interested in water resources issues. I found out that Department of Geosciences offered a program in Hydrogeology. After speaking with faculty members at Geosciences department, I was very excited to join their exceptional team. I felt there was so much they could offer to me, and in addition, I was impressed by the professional and friendly attitudes of the professors I had a chance to talk with. I found it very appealing that the department gives students opportunities to study geology in the field, and the field work has many practical applications.
- What's been your best experience so far?
I had no experience with teaching in the past. To become a teaching assistant and not to teach in my native language was a big challenge for me. I was so moved when some of my students came to me at the end of the semester and told me how interesting they found geology and how much they enjoyed my classes.
- In graduate School, have you gotten the opportunity to travel as part of your education?
I haven’t had an opportunity to travel so far. Because my study is related to water resources, everything what I need for my research is available right here. As I take further steps in my research, I hope that I will also get a chance to present my work outside of Wisconsin.
- What trait or thing has allowed you to succeed in graduate school?
I enjoy small accomplishments, and I don’t let minor setbacks to discourage me from my goal. Everything I do I try to do with 100% effort. Last but not least, I try to find a balance between studying and relaxation.
- Do you have any advice that you would give to a new graduate student in your program?
Set some short term and long term goals, take one step at the time, so you don’t feel overwhelmed, and find some time to rest. Exercising helps me.
- What has been the hardest part about being a graduate student (Is there anything that you've had to "give up" as a graduate student)?
Unfortunately, I had to give up some of my hobbies I do not have time for because of my studies. Also, I gave up the milder winters I was used to in my home country.
- What are your plans after you graduate?
I would like to be involved in water resource research in the countries that battle scarcity of water.
- How would you describe the Department of Geosciences at UWM to a prospective student?
People are very friendly and understandable. It’s a joy to work with them. Also I like that we all get together couple of times during a year outside school. I did not experience the events like a holiday party, the annual recognition dinner and other events at my university in Slovakia.
- What has been your favorite activity while you’ve been in Graduate School in Milwaukee?
I enjoy sports. During winter I enjoy the great swimming pool facilities and gym UWM has available for all students. In summer I prefer spending time outside: biking, running or playing tennis in nearby beautiful parks. Recently, I discovered wall climbing and I fell in love with this activity right away. Although I am afraid of heights, I hope I will be able to do it outside one day. Beside sport activities, I like taking photographs, drawing and reading.
- What do you most enjoy about Milwaukee?
I definitely enjoy spending time at the lake. Its size reminds me of the sea in Slovakia. I like to read a book at the beach or to run along the lake.