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Interview with Mathilde Kervazo

  • What’s your name? Where are you from?

I’m Mathilde Kervazo and I come from Saint-Malo in France.

  • What institution do you work for?

I work for the Freie Universität in Berlin and I just joined as a Postdoc, like, two months ago.

  • What did you study in college/university?

I studied geology in my Bachelor and then I did a Master in Planetary Science, and a PhD in Planetary Science in Nantes in France.

  • How did you arrive at exoplanet research?

I was doing my PhD on Io and Europa working on tidal dissipation and how you can heat their interior. So, then I was really interested in applying what I learnt from them to other planets in other systems that can also be strongly heated by tides.

  • Please describe your research topic briefly.

I’m now working on the interplay between several internal heatings in rocky exoplanets and looking how it can shape the evolution of these planets.

  • What scientific questions do you seek to answer? 

I want to see the effect of internal heating in rocky bodies depending on several configurations in terms of orbit, star; and to look how it can affect this evolution and maybe predict which kind of activity we are expecting for this world, for example volcanic activity or magma ocean stage and this can after be inferred from atmospheric properties or future measurements.

  • What methods do you use for that?

I’m using numerical modeling; so, I’m using a 2D convection code developed by Lena Noack and it’s simulating convection in planetary mantles over their evolution, over billions of years.

  • Why are you excited about specifically your research topic?

I really enjoy looking at how these bodies can be heated up to the melting point, for example, and how it can affect their evolution; their thermal evolution, but also, they can move on their orbits because of that. And it will also affect the atmospheric properties and things that can then be retrieved from observations. So, yeah, I really like to see how they can be heated. For example, Io in the Solar System, where we can see how this heat is expressed as a lot of volcanoes.

  • Where do you see connections between your topic and other scientific fields?

My research topic is in the really broad scheme of “understanding planets”, especially rocky planets. And so, by comparing a lot of processes, and a lot of planetary evolution, we can also better understand our own Earth and why it’s like this and not like other planets.

  • Are there any offers from the SPP-1992 that you made use of?

Yes, for example, thanks to meetings I was on, it allows me to network and discover more  the astrophysicist community, because I come from the Geophysics and Planetary Science community, so I don’t know for now the astrophysical community, so it helps me a lot for this for now.

  • In what way/To What extent did the SPP-1992 support you and your research?

I’m funded by SPP, so it fully supports me, and also it allows me to meet other researchers in my field and to discuss with them to learn more about my new project.

  • Can you speculate what new insights into your research area we might have in ten years’ time?

I’m really hoping that we can maybe discern between for example magma-ocean planets with fully molten surface and very volcanic active planets from the atmosphere, so thanks to observers. If we know that for people modelling the interior it means a lot and we can learn more about heating processes and maybe understand more from our Solar System.

  • What are your hobbies outside research?

I like to hike a lot, but Berlin is not the easiest for that.

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