Interview with DS chair Maria Ekström

Maria Ekström
Photo: Maria Ekström

Maria Ekström, a PhD student in the Department of Microtechnology and Nanoscience (MC2), is our new DS chair. She is working with her PhD since August 2013 with main research topic “quantum properties of Surface Acoustic Waves (SAW)”. She has been on the DS board since the summer of 2014. During this time she was elected twice for the position as vice chair and this year as chair of the DS board until the summer of 2018. Recently we interviewed Maria to know her passion and plans for DS. Here comes a short summary of the interview with Maria.

 

1. What motivated you to join the DS Board?

I first came in contact with DS on the introduction day, I was interested and it turned out to be a vacant position as the representative from MC2. Since the DS board is representing PhD students in many important deciding organs at Chalmers, I saw a fantastic chance to actually make a difference and to improve the work environment and research education for us PhD students at Chalmers and in Sweden.

In summer of 2017, the election committee wanted to nominate me as the chair of DS. I see the position as a very important role and I am honoured to have been elected to lead the DS board work for the activity year of 2017/2018. Together with the fantastic members of the DS board and the doktorandombud (DOMB), I know we will move the DS work forward and represent the PhD students at Chalmers well.

 

2. What do you think has been the most interesting and surprising aspect of being DS Boardie?

The most interesting aspect is that the DS board, as a team and collective voice for over 1000 PhD students, has an influencing and valuable voice and it is asked to be heard and participate in even more committees.

The most surprising aspect is how much information changes while it propagates from decision level to department level. This, in addition to the different needs due to research and research structure, might have caused the enormous differences we have between departments and even between divisions at the same department. We in the DS board need to be aware and consider these differences since we represent all PhD students at Chalmers. A goal for this year is to increase the transparency between the decision level and the departments to make the information disseminate without lack of coherence.

 

3. What do you take back after being a DS Boardie?

Working with the DS boards since 2014 has been one of the top five developing and rewarding experiences I have had during my PhD studies. I have learnt a lot about politics and structure of Chalmers, how difficult it can be to change established traditions, but also how changes can be and are made. I have also had the luck to have many good collaborations and a very good teamwork spirit in the DS board. At a personal level, I have gained new friends, a broader work network and a nice feeling of having been part of the important job of representing the PhD students at Chalmers.

 

4. What do you like to do when you are not researching?

When I am not doing research or working with DS, I love to go snowboarding in the winter and sailing in the summer. Regardless of the season, I try to find time to dance various dances like salsa, bugg, zouk, bachata, kizomba and foxtrot as well as I try to find the time to try out and learn other dances.