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When all the pieces of the puzzle fit together

Oihana Gordobil, InnoRenew CoE researcher; Main area of research: sustainable valorization of lignin

  • Where were you living in childhood and where do you live now?

I was born in San Sebastián, a small coastal city located in the Basque Country in Spain, which is about 20 km from the border with France. Now, I am living in Koper-Slovenia where I work as a researcher for InnoRenew CoE institute.

  • What have you studied and what were the motives for your decision?

Honestly, when I finished high school, I had no idea what to study. It is a time when you must make decisions that will affect the rest of your life and I think we are not yet mature enough to do so. However, I had always liked chemistry, so I finally decided to enrol in chemical engineering at the University of the Basque Country (UPV/EHU). Today I think it was a good decision and I’m glad I took that path.

  • How would you describe your work to someone outside your field?

A researcher’s work implies numerous activities such as reading scientific articles, planning experiments, data analysis, writing, searching for financing, networking, mentoring younger researchers, attending conferences, etc. But in general, I would say that a researcher is always learning. Our job is to learn and think to evolve.

  • What does your typical working day look like?

It is not easy to describe a typical working day since most of them are different. I try to organize myself to progress in all fields of my work. Some periods are more dedicated to experiments, and I spend more time in laboratories, while others in which I spend days and days in front of the computer.

  • What makes you excited about your work?

For me, the best is that feeling when all the pieces of the puzzle fit together, and you find the meaning of what you are investigating.

  • And what is the biggest challenge at your work?

Finish the working day and be able to disconnect.

  • Which scientist or scientific achievement are you fascinated by and why?

The use of Artificial Intelligence for many applications, but especially when it is used for medical purposes is amazing.

  • Tell us about the work of art (books, music, movies, theatre, dance, visual arts) that has a special place in your life.

The work of Cesar Manrique in Lanzarote (Canary Island) fascinates me. His work reflects the perfect harmony between art and nature, enhancing the natural beauty of the island. It makes you connect deeply with the environment and fall in love with this island and its history.

  • What have you read, listened to, or watched lately?

I am a consumer of digital platforms; I love watching movies and series.

  • Describe your very first impression of Slovenia.

When I arrived in Slovenia for the first time, I found it a very quiet and safe place. It is a country that I love and makes me feel at home.

  • What do you like about Slovenia and what do you miss most from your homeland?

I love the Slovenian coast. I love summer here. I love its gastronomy; I love that I am close to Italy and Croatia…and so I could go on with a long list. Without a doubt, what I miss the most is my family and friends.

  • Which place on the Slovene coast do you like the most?

I couldn’t say which place I like the most on the Slovenian coast. It is impossible to choose just one.

  • What makes you enthusiastic?

Trying new tastes, ingredients and flavours excites me. I believe that the greatest pleasure in life is eating.

  • Characterize your life’s guidance or an important realization (or epiphany) you have experienced.

Everything happens for a purpose.

  • What does the charm of wood mean to you?

Wood is an element that reminds us that nature is our greatest resource.