Post Doc, Structural Geology, Leonardo Muniz Pichel @haleokinetic: A Day in the GeoLife

salt tectonics
Post Doctorate Research Fellow, Leonardo Muniz Pichel, specializing in salt tectonics. ©2020 Leonardo Muniz Pichel

NAME: Leonardo Muniz Pichel

CURRENT TITLE: Postdoctoral Research Fellow (University of Bergen)

AREA OF EXPERTISE: Structural Geology, Salt Tectonics, Basin Analysis, Rifting and Break-up, Seismic Interpretation, Structural Restoration and Modelling


BSc in Earth Sciences (Universidade Federal do Rio Grande do Norte – UFRN, Brazil). 

PhD in Earth Sciences (University of Manchester)

Postdoctoral Research Associate (Imperial College London)

Visiting Researcher (University of Barcelona)

TWITTER NAME: @haleokinetic

What’s your job like?

I am a structural geologist working with basin analysis and subsurface data to investigate the interaction between tectonics and sedimentation. My work is mainly computer-based, interpreting geophysical data and developing structural models. It also occasionally involves fieldwork to study outcrop analogues of features that we observe deep in the Earth’s subsurface (and to keep me close to the rocks). 😊

My research focuses mainly on understanding the interplay between rifting and continental break-up with salt deposition and tectonics along passive margins such as offshore Brazil, West Africa, the North Sea, and the Precaspian. This involves reconstructing the deformation and deposition of rocks through time and space in order to understand sediment dispersal patterns, depocentre evolution, and their potential implications to hydrocarbon exploration, CO2 sequestration, and nuclear waste repositories.

What’s a typical day like?

My typical day involves around 7-8 hours of focused work at the lab, followed by some sports or physical activities like climbing, hiking, kickboxing or just going to the gym. Recently, I also started to dedicate myself to yoga. I try to practice at least 10-15 minutes every day in the morning or 30-40 minutes later in the day. It really helps to unwind, and it’s also a great exercise. On other days, I just want to skip the gym and go out for drinks/food with friends.

What’s fun?

I am fascinated by travelling to special and exotic far-away places. The thrill of discovery, of dealing with unexpected situations, meeting new cultures, people, food, and places is probably my favourite thing in the world. I consider every trip a growing experience. It helps me to understand the world and to overcome my personal limitations and prejudices as well as to change my perspective. I do also like to chill out by the beach or to go on big mountain hikes as well as going out with friends or sometimes just staying at home for some Netflix. All of these are fun 😉

What’s challenging?

Developing new scientific ideas and understanding complex geological settings are always very challenging but these are positive challenges that give me a whole lot of satisfaction when I manage to overcome them. However, the biggest challenge nowadays for scientists in special ECRs working in academia like me, is to maintain (or even find) decent, stable jobs that allow us to perform well without the constant pressure of not knowing what to do next.

What’s your advice to students?

I would say: be bold and ambitious, believe strongly in your dreams, and work hard to make them become reality (a bit cliché, I know, but it’s true). Be critical but always kind and supportive. This goes a long way in helping not only others but also oneself. Most importantly, be determined to achieve your goals but always remember to have fun and to take breaks (another famous cliché–work hard and play hard) 😉

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