Interview with Ludmilla Aristilde

August 13, 2015

Ludmilla Aristilde was awarded the M.J. Vlamis Award from the CNR Dean's Office of Instruction and Student Affairs Award Committee. Her future Plans include working as a Fulbright Scholar at the University of Grenoble in France (2008-2009) and then, as a NSF Postdoctoral Fellow at Princeton University (2009-2011). In her post-graduate interview Ludmilla shares about her journey in education.

Q: What inspired to join NST?
A: After obtaining my M.S. in Environmental Engineering here at Berkeley, I was looking for a program suitable for me to pursue my research and training in Environmental toxicology issues. I was trained as an environmental chemist and wanted to expand on my biological skills, which are essential to address environmental pollution and environmental health issues in a comprehensive manner. The Molecular Toxicology program was a very good fit for me due to its interdisciplinary nature the diversity of expertise of its faculty member.

Q: What were the highlights of your experience here as a graduate student?
A: The highlights for me were to able to have the opportunities to serve several times as a teaching assistant because I love to teach. I was also delighted to be asked to guest lecture twice: in Professor Bjeldanes' course (NST 110 Toxicology) where I lectured on "Introduction to Environmental Toxicology" and in Professor Sposito's course (CEE116 Aqueous Environmental Aqueous Geochemistry) where I presented on "Organic Pollutants and Toxicological Implications in the Environment."

Q: Who has provided you with the most guidance and inspiration during your studies in the program?
A: I had the great opportunity to work with faculty from different departments on campus. For instance, I have had the privilege to have members in my dissertation committee from three different departments: Gary Sposito (my research adviser who is affiliated with both ESPM and Environmental. Engineering.), Tasiso Melis (PMB), Tyrone Hayes (IB), and David Sedlak (EI). They are all experts in their fields and thus provide invaluable guidance for the progress of my research. I specifically want to acknowledge my professor (Gary Sposito) for giving the freedom to design my own project and to pursue a research question that lies at the interface of environmental chemistry and environmental health. I am also grateful to both Tyrone Hayes and Tasios Melis who have made themselves available to me countless times for mentorship and guidance even though I was not their student.

Q: What is your biggest professional dream?
A: Since I was a little girl growing up in Haiti, my biggest personal dream has always been to be a teacher. I grew up with having two teachers as parents: my father has a school principal and my mother as a pre-school teacher. I was fascinated how much impact my father had on the community where he grew up in and he was so passionate about educating the young people to they can have a better future. My decision to go to grad school had more to do with the aspiration of becoming a professor and educate young people on how to address emerging environmental issues and less to do with research. But, while getting my PhD at Berkeley, I am happy to say that my love for research has now caught up with my love for teaching and I am looking forward to take advantage of both in my future profession.

Q: Where do you see yourself in 5 years/ 10 years?
A: In the future, I hope to be a university professor and to still pursue to address environmental issues at the interface of environmental science and environmental and public health.

Q: Advice for graduate students?
A: The advice I will have for current graduate students is to settle down on a research project that you're passionate about because, through all the ups, challenges, and many downs of grad school, your desire to complete your project will carry you through.