5 new PhD's, all from different countries, joined CERE in the autumn of 2014. Here they tell us about themselves, their motivations, expectations, research ideas, and their thoughts about their future.
From left to right: Sandra Schusser, Golnaz Amjadi, Maria Arvaniti (Post Doc) and Philip Kofi Adom in Ammarnäs April 2015

Sandra Schusser

Sandra is from Germany and she appreciates food and sport. Sport mostly because she wants to enjoy food, Sandra says. On a regular day Sandra can be found standing at her desk, on her toes to improve her running stride, read a paper while munching on something edible. Before coming here Sandra was a bit worried about how she would like her fellow PhD students. One semester in and her mind is at ease and she is "no longer afraid of spending the next four years with them."

As a child, Sandra enjoyed going to school and when she finished her Master she realized that was all the formal education she would ever get and started to work for a wind energy company. According to Sandra, "Idealism meets reality, morals meet modern business practices, and after a two and a half years I ended my excursion to the outside world." At this point she decided to take on the opportunity to do her PhD at SLU because she did not feel like she was done with university yet.

Sandra has very clear expectations for her PhD. She wants to become really good at her topic which right now is looking at price determinants of tradable green certificates in Sweden. Other things that she is interested in are consumer's attitudes and preferences with respect to renewable energies and how and why they vary over countries and over time. She is curious about exploring how feasible a 100% renewable energy provision for is Sweden.

When asked "After your PhD, what would you like people at CERE to remember you for?", she replied that she is afraid she is already known among by fellow PhD students for being "organized, structured, (fill in German stereotype attributes)". In the past, Sandra was usually known as the one who always brings homemade cakes and the one everyone came to ask for help with Stata and Excel. "And it is happening again", she says!

Philip Kofi Adom

Philip is a Ghanaian from the city of Kumasi. He belongs to a family of three and he feels fortunate to be the last born in the family. Philip is married and with two girls. When asked what he enjoys in life, he replied: "My joy in this life is seeing to the end of a task, and I get disappointed when that is not accomplished. I enjoy working in a team because I believe that individuals are unique in their own way, and the only way to get the best of everything is tapping from these individual unique talents." Philip is the kind of person who is
never afraid to share and certainly not reluctant to listen. He likes reading academic papers and sometimes novels. His favorite sports are football and table tennis. During his spare time Philip prefers to listen to good gospel and country music.

While noted for her rich endowment of energy resources, Africa is amongst the most energy poor regions in the world. This is due to an array of factors including unreliable supply, inadequate investment in the energy sector, the restrictive nature of foreign investment policy which has impeded foreign penetration into the energy market and left most energy endowed fields unexploited etc. This motivated Philip to research into the African energy market. The road to a PhD degree is intended to equip Philip with the state of the art methods to analyze the African energy market.

When asked: "After your PhD, what would you like people at CERE to remember you for?", Philip answered that he would like CERE members to remember him for his research, his efforts to extend CERE research to Africa's energy markets and his long-term goals. After his PhD degree, Philip would like to work in academia, preferably in a research-oriented unit. As a long term objective Philip wants to establish a Centre for Energy and Environmental Studies in the African energy market. For him, the goal of this Centre will be to promote research in the African energy market and also serve as a consortium for prospective investors in the African energy market. As part of the scholarship activity of the Centre, an academic journal will be established which will serve as an important medium for circulation of energy and environmental studies. Philip has even thought about a preliminary title for this journal: The African Energy Journal (AEJ).

Philip has already research experience and his research has focused on economic-wide demand-side management within the African energy markets. You can look Philip's previous and current publications at:

Golnaz Amjadi

Golnaz started her PhD at CERE on October 2014. When she came to Sweden she started a master program in "economics and econometrics" at Örebro university in 2010. Golnaz grew up in Mashhad, which is the second most populous city in Iran with a population of about 4 million people. It is located in the northeast of the country close to the borders of Turkmenistan and Afghanistan. Golnaz finished her bachelor in economics in 2007 from Ferdowsi University of Mashhad, which is among the five top universities in Iran.

After graduation, she worked in a public bank for about three years. Her experiences from work led her to become more and more certain that she wanted to get back to the university environment. Therefore, she applied for a master program in Sweden. Writing her master thesis gave Golnaz this opportunity to work with applied economics. She enjoyed it a lot and was motivated to apply for a PhD position in order to continue doing research.

Besides her academic interests, Golnaz very much enjoys baking and cooking. Photography is also one of her greatest interests that she would like to take to a more serious level one day! She also enjoys spending time with friends and great company.

Regarding her research ideas, currently Golnaz is working on the topic of "energy efficiency and rebound effects", which aims to measure the rebound effects of improvements in energy efficiency in the Swedish manufacturing industry.

For the following PhD years, Golnaz expects to learn much more about applied economics and also be able to contribute to a more sustainable development. When asked: "After your PhD, what would you like people at CERE to remember you for?", she replied "... as a nice and respectful colleague and a good researcher".

AlejandroAlejandro Egüez

Alejandro Egüez was born in Quito, Ecuador's capital, 2 850 meters above sea level. Back in Ecuador, Alejandro studied Economics and worked for Ecuador's electricity regulatory agency. He found the energy sector very interesting because so many disciplines merge to tackle different energy and sustainability related challenges. This inspired him to come to Sweden in 2010 where he did LUMES (Lund University International Master's Programme in Environmental Studies and Sustainability Science). In October 2014 Alejandro moved to Umeå together with his wife and daughter, who turned one in April of 2015, to start his PhD. Alejandro is part of Umeå University Industrial Doctoral School and his research will be in collaboration with local utilities like Umeå Energi.

Alejandro considers himself a social and generous person. Indeed, one of the things he most enjoys is to share quality time with family and friends, especially when there is good food and good wine. "The rest just come by itself...", he argues.

Alejandro sees his PhD as a journey that he wants to make the most of. He believes that doing a PhD is an excellent opportunity to learn how to do research, find your genuine interests, explore them, specialize, get passionate, and hopefully make a contribution. Regarding his PhD interests, Alejandro is keen to specialize on energy – economy modeling to design and assess different policy mixes. Also, he wants to learn more about the methods used in Economics and explore how these can be combined and/or complemented with other approaches like Systems Dynamics.

Finally, when asked: "After your PhD, what would you like people at CERE to remember you for?", he replied: "as the guy from whom we learn (or shared) that doing research is even better with good discussions that occur spontaneously with good food and of course, good wine. SALUD!"

Mattia Luigi Ratti

MattiaWhen asked about himself, he replied: "My name is Mattia Luigi Ratti and even if most people think my first name is Luigi (as the brother of Mario), it actually is Mattia. As you can guess I am Italian and, yes, I like very much pasta and pizza, but I like other kind of food, too. Indeed I am a food lover and I especially like to try out dishes from different countries and different cultures. I still haven't eaten surströmming, but I'm definitely going to do that soon (at the Ulvön conference)."

Mattia is not only interested in cultural diversity in food, but in art, history, and customs, too. Adding this to the fact that he likes mathematics (particularly when applied), it is clear why he decided to pursue a study career in Economics. He believes Economics is the best discipline to conjugate humanities and hard science by trying to explain people's behavior in a rational framework. "We know that people aren't really so rational and that many phenomena involve some kind of uncertainty, but this just adds some 'spice' to the mix" he said. And even if Mattia is not a risk lover, he prefers to live in a world that has many mysteries to solve rather than in one where everything can always be exactly predicted.

Mattia is a native of a village in the Northern Italian countryside, a place in the middle of hills, fields, forests, lakes, and close to the mountains. He thinks that is the reason why he loves nature and is concerned for the well-being of the environment, as well as for the people who live in it. This explains why when Mattia found an application for a PhD in Environmental Economics at CERE, he immediately applied for it; and he is very glad he got the position.

In particular, Mattia's PhD studies are focused on Energy. "If money is the 'motor' of most activities in the world, surely they need energy to actually run; so we can safely say that Energy Economics is the most important field of study in applied science (or at least I believe so)", Mattia argues.

Regarding his research interests, Mattia said: "Combining my interests in Energy with my care for the environment you can easily guess that my research topic is about renewable energies. I am still at the beginning of my PhD studies journey and thus I still don't know exactly what I will end up doing specifically, but at least I have a starting idea." Mattia's preliminary idea is to study the determinants of people's attitudes about renewable energies (particularly wind power) in different areas of Europe to see whether it will be possible to exploit these differences to set up more efficient policies to incentivize an even more sustainable energy market. After this he would also like to build a model to somehow quantify the increase in welfare that such policies could bring to the society. "I know that what I've just said sounds very general and that a few years of doctorate are probably not enough to do all that, but, after all, this is just the beginning and I hope I will be able to continue along this path even after completing my PhD studies at CERE", he finishes.


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