EAG sponsored students from left to right: Maxime Daviray, Aline Mega, Anisha Verencar and Eric Vandenberg, with the Vienna Cathedral in the right hand panel.

Experiencing EGU24! part 1

The EAG sponsored four PhD students to attend EGU24 in April this year through the Student Sponsorship program. In the first of this two-part blog report, the students introduce themselves and share their experiences of travelling to Vienna. Read Part Two of the blog report here.

Meet the students

EAG sponsored student Aline Mega

My name is Aline Mega, and I am an oceanographer with a Master’s degree in geosciences. Currently, I am pursuing my PhD in Marine Sciences at the University of Algarve (Portugal). The primary objective of my thesis is to reconstruct sea surface temperatures, productivity, and pH variability along the Portuguese margin over the last 130,000 years using the shells of unicellular marine organisms known as planktonic foraminifera. This research is crucial for enhancing future predictions. According to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), if anthropogenic CO2 emissions continue to rise at current levels, ocean surface pH is predicted to decrease by 0.3 pH units by the end of this century, leading to ocean acidification that is already impacting marine calcifying organisms such as foraminifera.

I’m Maxime Daviray, a palaeontologist by training, and I’m currently working on my PhD in Biogeosciences at the University of Angers (France). I’m studying the biogeochemical functioning of coastal sediments colonised by electric cable bacteria, and more specifically the consequences of the acidification they induce on the carbonate system, especially calcifying microorganisms such as benthic foraminifera and their preservation in the sedimentary record. By understanding the processes of dissolution and taphonomy that affect foraminifera, we can reinforce their robustness as bioindicators and palaeoenvironmental proxies, as they have been used for decades.

EAG sponsored student Maxime Daviray
EAG sponsored student Eric Vandenberg

I’m Eric Vandenburg, an isotope geochemist in the final months of my PhD in geology at Monash University in Melbourne (Australia). I earned a B.Sc. (Hons.) in Geological Sciences from the University of British Columbia in 2020 and previously worked in mineral exploration and for the Ontario Geological Survey. As part of my PhD, my research uses a combination of trace element geochemistry, radiogenic and non-traditional stable isotopes, and petrogenetic trace element modelling to understand the evolution of cratons and elucidate the origins of subduction-like processes in the Archean. In addition to my work in the early Earth, I have a diverse range of other research interests, including primitive melt geochemistry in oceanic subduction zones, stable isotope fractionation in magmatic systems, the secular evolution of Earth reservoirs, mantle heterogeneities in plume-related settings, and orthomagmatic Ni-Cu-PGE-Cr ore deposits.

I am Anisha Verencar, an igneous petrologist and currently pursuing my PhD at CSIR-National Institute of Oceanography, Goa-India. My primary research focus lies on the origin and evolution of ultramafic-mafic magma and their role in crustal growth through geological time and associated metallogenic processes in diverse tectonic settings. I have been using trace, rare earth elements, platinum group elements and radiogenic isotopic proxies to understand the melt generation process, depth and degree of mantle melting and crust-mantle interaction, which collectively control magma genesis. In my Ph.D. I am working on the petrology and geochemistry of ophiolitic rocks from Naga hills and Andaman island to decipher the ocean-crust-mantle interaction and associated geochemical cycling within a suprasubduction zone regime and possible mechanism of refertilisation of the Neo-Tethyan mantle.

EAG sponsored student Anisha Verencar

Trains, planes and automobiles: getting to Vienna

transportation in Vienna

Maxime: Vienna is at a distance from Angers that can still be covered by train (~1500 km), so I chose to use this mode of transport, which is more environmentally friendly than flying (but not more economical), and more comfortable than traveling by car, and also because it was possible to make the journey at night! It was a first for me, so I let myself be tempted; and I wasn’t the only one – the majority of passengers on this train were also going to the EGU. I won’t hide the fact that I didn’t get much sleep on my little ‘couchette’, but the journey was a great experience. During my return trip I had to make one connection after another in Austria and Germany all the way to France, so it was very relaxing and safe to go directly to Vienna by night train. Our very friendly host even served us breakfast in bed. I’d happily do it again.

Eric: The journey from Melbourne, Australia, where I currently call home, was a long slog. I arrived Europe-side in Milano via Dubai; twenty-two gruelling hours in an economy-class seat is enough to put anyone through the wringer! Fortunately, before the conference, I had the pleasure of spending a week snowboarding and delving into the geology of the Italian and French Alps, so jet lag was the least of my worries. However, I must say, finding a quick and convenient way to travel between Torino and Wien is impossible, but at least the München airport has excellent facilities. Unlike Melbourne, Wien’s airport boasted a train service that whisked me straight to the city center, which was nothing short of a godsend.


Anisha:  My total travel time to Vienna was approximately 30 hours and comprised three legs: one domestic and two international flights! Due to a delay in my second flight, I missed my last leg. Yet, in this apparent misfortune lay a hidden blessing. Embracing the ‘burnt toast theory,’ the delay serendipitously granted me time to explore Istanbul Airport and savor the exquisite flavors of Turkish cuisine. As I arrived in the historic city, the grandeur of Vienna, with its blend of classical architecture and modern amenities, set the stage for an unforgettable journey.

First impressions

Maxime: It was my first time at the EGU, and the size of the site and the number of participants really impressed me. It’s huge! I spent my time running left and right, up and down stairs to attend the presentations I was interested in; it keeps you on your toes!


Eric: This was my first time at EGU and visiting Wien. Compared to the Goldschmidt conference last year in Lyon, EGU had fewer sessions relevant to my interests, but it was great not having any scheduling conflicts for once. The timetabling of the sessions relevant to my interests was quite nice, as it also gave me some well-deserved downtime. The Austria Centre was a massive labyrinth, but luckily, I had the app to help me navigate through it all. While the absence of beer at the poster sessions was noticeable (which often leads to some interesting conversations), their timing throughout the day meant I didn’t have to linger until the end of the day to ask any burning questions.


Anisha: It was an exhilarating experience as a first time attendee at EGU2024. It was overwhelming to see over 19,000 researchers from all over the globe assemble at a single venue. The sheer diversity in research areas from geology, geophysics, planetary science, climate change and environmental science was inspiring. Since it was my first time I had marked many sessions and posters that I wanted to attend in the EGU app. However after 2 days of running between halls and missing a few important session; I realized the need to focus and stick to one session to fully engage with it.