EurGeol of the month: János Szanyi

“European Geologist of the month” is a section of EFG’s monthly newsletter GeoNews. Each month we ask one of the European Geologist title holders to tell us about his professional experiences and which role the title has played for his career. This month we talked to Olivier Féménias, member of the Belgo-Luxembourg association BLUG/UBLG.

János Szanyi

EurGeol title number: 1256
Country: Hungary
In which country do you currently work? Hungary
In which field of geology do you work? Geothermal Energy and Hydrogeology

What inspired you to become a geologist? The books that I read about the natural processes and my geography teacher in high school were the greatest influences on my choice.

How many fellow students did you have? My case was rather special because I started my studies in mathematics and geography at József Attila University (now University of Szeged) and after the second year, me and a fellow student of mine specialized ourselves in geology. So it was just the 2 of us, really, but later we enrolled in the geologist education at Eötvös Lóránd University in Budapest and there were many others. The 2 of us, however, attended two universities at the same time.  I graduated as a mathematics-informatics teacher in Szeged and as a geologists in Budapest, where I had 21 fellows.

There are fewer women working in geology than men. What would you say to girls who might be interested in a career in geology? Geology is very complex and colourful profession with many sub-areas. Everybody can find a field, a topic which best suits their interests. Nowadays geologists work in teams and many times on projects and time-critical assignments, so one of the most important thing is to be able to adapt to the team, but of course a well-established knowledge is a must too. All in all, there might be more male geologists than female, but times change: at the moment we have more female geology students at our university than male.

 Which field of geology did you study in particular? I had started my carrier as a field geologist at the Hungarian Geological Survey and later I became the head of the Regional Office. I took part in many hydrogeological activities, such as planning and doing field work, organizing geothermal data bases. I coordinated several national projects which dealt with transboundary aquifers and geothermal energy utilization. I also participated as a modeler expert for several groundwater contaminant cases.

 In which sector(s) did/do you work? At the moment I work in education at the University of Szeged and I work for geothermal energy related NGO’s too.

What do you currently do in your job? Could you describe an average day? My day starts at the University. Usually I read and answer emails in the first hours, after that I hold lectures or consult with students. In the afternoon I deal with the ongoing projects, reading scientific papers or doing numerical simulations. Very often I need to communicate with our partners, which requires both online and personal meetings. I’m out of the office an average 2 days a week for cooperation with partners or conferences. If I’m lucky I can do some field work, but it is not too common unfortunately.

 What’s your favourite part of your job? The research, definitely. We have very good cooperation with the industrial sector and other research institutions. We are developing some brand new technologies to increase the efficiency of geothermal energy production – some of our research is really cutting edge, and it’s great to see ideas turn into reality.

 Why should young people consider a career in geosciences? Our life is unthinkable without water, aggregates and energy. Geologists have an important role to explore, research and produce these materials in a sustainable way, it is a great challenge!

 What kind of personal qualities do you need as a geoscientist? Inquisitiveness for all natural processes.

 Could you explain when and why you applied for the European Geologist title? I applied in 2005. I applied because I was, and I am still sure that we need to harmonize our interests, provide access to information available to us and have our voice heard at European level.

 Did you already work abroad? If yes, could you tell us about your experiences abroad? What does abroad mean? I believe in the idea of the European Union, so we are the members of the same community. I am involved in many transnational and cross-border projects with different research institutions, so I travel a lot and cooperate with colleagues of various nationalities. To mention a concrete example: I was a visiting professor at the Belgrade University and it was really remarkable to know each other more closely, not to mention the hospitality of our Serbian colleagues. Summarizing my opinion, joint work between different nations has its challenges but can be very fruitful.

 What does the European Federation of Geologists represent for you and what do you expect from our association? I look forward to see how the EFG can bring European geologists together and conciliate the public’s appreciation like the USGS do.

 Would you advise fellow geologists to become a member of a professional association? Yes of course! If we have a strong association we will be able to increase our advocacy skills both on national and on European level.

 To know you a little better: What do you like to do in your spare time? I like playing football and I swim. In the evening I like to read and listen to classical music. When I have spare time I go hiking and visiting big trees with tree-lovers. There is a fantastic self-organised international club (European Champion Tree Forum). Their credo: trees are better suitable than most other organisms to teach us of the wonders of nature. 

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