Spotlight on PhD graduate Alessandro Montemagno

Published on 15/11/2023

Recently graduated, Alessandro Montemagno conducted his PhD thesis jointly at the Luxembourg Institute of Science and Technology (LIST) and Wageningen University and Research. He proposed a multidisciplinary approach that incorporates Rare Earth Elements as additional tracers to water stable isotopes while introducing a novel in-situ technique for tree water extraction.

What is your research background?

I earned my master's degree in environmental sciences in Palermo, Italy. After that, I started my PhD journey in the field of Biogeochemistry of Rare Earth Elements and water stable isotopes. This project was a collaborative effort between LIST and Wageningen University and Research. My research focus was on understanding the intricate water uptake dynamics of trees. I utilized rare earth elements and water stable isotopes as tracers, enabling me to recognize the diverse water sources absorbed by trees in their natural habitats.

What is your research topic?

By employing rare earth elements and water stable isotopes as tracers, I explored the processes dominating water uptake dynamics in trees. This endeavor allowed me to discern the specific water sources utilized by trees during the different period of the years. This may find applications especially in water resources conservation and forest management, having potential implications on decision-make processes concerning, for instance, the choice of the most suitable tree species for re-forestation according to climate forecasts.

How was your time with LIST?

I spent four amazing years at LIST. Even though the pandemic made things tough, I had some great experiences and learned a lot. It was a bit disappointing that I couldn't enjoy it as much as I had hoped because of the pandemic. But thanks to the supportive research community at LIST, we faced the challenges together. I have some wonderful memories from my time there.

We all worked together as a team, and I learned a lot from my mentors. They played a big role in helping me with my research. We often worked together and shared ideas, which made our research group like a close-knit family. It was a great environment where we could come up with new ideas and work together on important projects.

What are your future plans?

I'm really looking forward to my new job as an environmental project manager. I'll be working for a good company in Luxembourg, where I'll be in charge of environmental projects. I love taking care of the environment and making things sustainable, so this job is perfect for me. I'll be using what I learned during my PhD to make a positive difference in the environment and in society.

Alessandro Montemagno successfully defended his PhD thesis entitled ‘Investigating Rare Earth Elements and water stable isotopes dynamics in forest ecosystem’ at Wageningen University and Research (NL) on 6 November. Watch his defence on Wageningen University and Research Video Gallery !

Alessandro's work was funded by the DTU Hydro-CSI project, coordinated by Laurent Pfister and funded by the Luxembourg National Research Fund (FNR).

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Dr habil. Laurent PFISTER
Dr habil. Laurent PFISTER
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