Sophia Schumanns RIBES story

Buona giornata,

It is my pleasure to introduce myself as part of the RIBES project. My name is Sophia Schumann and I moved from Germany to Padova in Italy where I am doing my PhD at one of the oldest universities in Europe. I started my academic journey in the field of biology where I started to grow an interest in fish physiology by attending an advanced module in aquaculture at the University of Düsseldorf. During my bachelor thesis, I gained my first experience in studying stress responses in fish by observing histopathological inflammations as a response to malnutrition. Throughout my research career, a commonality has been studying stress responses in fish and improve the health status of farmed fishes. I think it is very fascinating to see how organisms try to compensate for an imbalance after disturbance.  I have always been curious about the processes of the natural world and have a strong will to protect the environment, therefore I chose to do my Master’s in Landscape Ecology and Nature Conservation at the University of Greifswald. My Master’s program was very transdisciplinary and I wanted to continue in a multidisciplinary research approach. As I found the opportunity for the RIBES PhD project online, it was exactly what I was looking for. I was the happiest person on earth when I got the commitment for the position in July.

Since November, my workplace is in the Department of Biology at the University of Padova, Italy. I am part of the Ecophysiology laboratory of Prof. Gianfranco Santovito. My co-supervisor is Prof. Andrea Marion from the Department of Industrial Engineering at the University of Padova. Professor Santovito’s lab welcomed me very well and they try to teach me something new about Italian culture every day. I am very happy to be part of this supportive and trustable laboratory. In my research project, I will establish physiological indicators, which provide information about the stress response in riverine fish. My project will focus on the recognition of external stimuli promoting the activation of hypothalamic-pituitary-internal axis (HPI) measured by cortisol in the blood and the risk of oxidative stress. The samples will be taken in the field in cooperation with other ESR projects and afterwards analysed in the lab. The focus will to understand the vulnerability of aquatic ecosystem by using fish as an ecological parameter.

The RIBES project is a good chance for me to work with scientists from different fields. Additionally, I have to possibility to learn new methods and different scientific approaches by attending the RIBES Network School. My main goal is, in close collaborative work with all the ESR’s, that we can face human-induced ecological problems and make them accessible for society. By doing this on several scales, it can maintain ecosystem functions and services.

By understanding riverine ecosystem legacies and disturbances, we have the possibility to get an information of the structure and its functions. It is imperative that we protect biodiversity against anthropogenic pressure and climate change.  The best way to work towards preserving biodiversity and ecosystem health is through a multidisciplinary approach using strategies from many academic fields. It makes me very happy to be part of the RIBES community and to actively contribute to the interface between applied science, industry and local authorities.

Besides the scientific goals, one of biggest wishes for 2021 is to get to know the other colleagues in real life. So I am looking forward for our second Network school in Padova in 2021 to meet everyone in person. 

Published on: 15/02/2021