Life After a Post-Doc: Karla Cervantes Barron

Life After a Post-Doc: Karla Cervantes Barron

This is the third installment of a series of posts from former PhD students and post-docs of Resource Efficiency Collective to explore where they are now, and how their time in the group prepared them for life in and beyond academia.

Next up is Karla who started her PhD in 2016 and is still working with Resource Efficiency Collective. She’s gone from PhD student to Research Associate, and now works as a Senior Research Associate.

Please give us a brief summary of your post-doc involvement.

I work on the Climate Compatible Growth (CCG) programme, a unique project in its duration (it started in Jan 2021 and was recently approved to run until 2030) and scope (the low-carbon transition in low- and middle income countries (LMICs)). I do research on the materials needed for low-carbon energy and transport systems. These range from bulky ones such as steel or cement and small but very key ones such as lithium or cobalt. I work on understanding the demand for these materials as systems change and the supply of them. Regarding supply, I especially focus on materials known as “critical minerals” which have an expected increase in demand and we therefore need to understand where they’ll come from, how to safely procure them and what opportunities LMICs have in participating in the supply chain further, among other challenges.

What were your main achievements during your post-doc?

Still ongoing, but I’ve had a chance to work in several countries including Lao PDR, Vietnam and Zambia and do projects with partners there. I’ve also had a chance to publish open-access tools as part of a model we’ve called Mat-dp which stands for Material Demand Projections and helps assess changing material demand for user-defined scenarios. I have had chances to participate in and sometimes organise high-profile events like COP side events, UNFCCC negotiations, Chatham House events, among other. I like that this job has “real impact”.

What is your current role?

Senior Research Associate

How did your time with Resource Efficiency Collective impact your future?

To pick a few, it introduced me to clever and fun people, expanded my thinking on holistic low-carbon transition analysis and is giving me the chance to have real world impact.

What advice would you give someone who wants to do a post-doc?

Chose your project wisely, take time to meet other colleagues, push the boundaries of academic impact.

Read more about Karla and her publications here.

Photo credit: Jonathan Chng, Unsplash