Let’s talk about solutions to mitigate climate change!

Former PhD student and Postdoc Célia Sapart

Originally coming from the Swiss mountains, my child’s mind was constantly dreaming of oceans, tides and marine life. So, at the age of 19, I left Switzerland to study ocean sciences in France and after that in Alaska where I discovered the field of paleoclimatology. There I developed a real passion for climate reconstructions, and this brought me to IMAU in 2007 where I did a MSc thesis under the supervision of Thomas Röckmann and Roderik van de Wal. This was the start of my 7 years journey at IMAU. The goal of my MSc thesis, and after that of my PhD, was to better understand the global methane budget by developing a system to measure methane stable isotopes in the air trapped in ice cores. During these years, I had the chance to go to Greenland, but I mostly worked in the lab with Carina van der Veen, our very creative lab master. We went through a lot of ups and downs while building this methane system, but Thomas was always there with his magical hands to get us back on track. The hard work paid off when we managed to reconstruct the history of methane over the last 2 millennia, and were able to show the early influence of human activities on the atmospheric burden of this gas. These were the main results of my PhD thesis that I defended in June 2012.

After that, I did two post-docs and became Fonds de la Recherche Scientifique (FNRS) researcher at the Laboratoire de Glaciologie of the Université Libre de Bruxelles in Belgium where I continued my research on methane isotopes. This enabled me to do frequent fieldwork in the Arctic and in Antarctica, but in parallel, I also worked more and more on scientific communication and outreach. I started teaching classes on this subject and I wrote an interactive children’s book “Sol au Pôle Nord” to raise awareness on solutions to mitigate climate change.

In 2019, I became a mother and I decided to concentrate fully on solutions to mitigate climate change, so I joined the young non-profit EU organisation, CO2 Value Europe as Director Communications and Climate Science. Our goal is to support the development of a circular carbon economy, to contribute to the net reduction of global CO2 emissions (especially from hard to abate sectors), and to move away from fossil carbon use. I am really thrilled to be able to combine my passions for science and communication and to work at the interface of the scientific, political and industrial sectors; I think this trilogue is absolutely essential to efficiently mitigate climate change and create a society that is more sustainable, resilient and just. Following that goal, I also continue teaching and I am currently preparing a theater play based on my book that will stage in Geneva for two weeks in April 2022.

Time is flying, but I keep so many wonderful memories of my time at IMAU. I very much enjoyed working in such an international and diverse team and I remember all the parties and dinners with dishes from all over the globe. But above all, I cannot forget our great music moments at the BBOS symposia and all the rehearsals and concerts with our choir “Earth, Wind and Choir”! Unforgettable! 

Best greetings to all IMAU colleagues and I hope to cross your paths again very soon!

Célia Sapart