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Profile: Chia-Hsin (Wendy) Tsai

Chia-Hsin (Wendy) Tsai on a punt

Chia-Hsin (Wendy) Tsai (2018, DPhil Earth Sciences)

Chia-Hsin (Wendy) Tsai (2018, DPhil Earth Sciences) is from Taiwan and previously studied at the Department of Geosciences, National Taiwan University. She is interested in the topics about Neotectonics, seismic hazards and fault behaviours. My DPhil project aims to study the huge palaeo-earthquake ruptures and the subtle crustal deformation in Altay and Dzhungaria (the northern Tien Shan), Central Asia.

Why did you decide to a DPhil in Earth Sciences? 
Having experienced a devastating earthquake in Taiwan definitely makes me want to know more about the Earth. I’ve also been more interested in Earth Sciences since I was a high school student. (The credit could be given to my high school teacher and those Hollywood movies about geohazards for sure.) After those years of studying Geosciences during my undergrad, my passion and curiosity about the Earth are even stronger. I enjoy staring at the maps, traveling around for the field works and digging into the (abundant) unknown of this subject. Thus, doing a DPhil in Earth Sciences (and having the experience of studying abroad) sounded like a good choice for me! So yes…it’s kind of a natural decision.

Give your specialist subject pitch!
I study earthquakes in Central Asia – a region where people hardly expect earthquakes. Nevertheless, several historical records have revealed the existence of seismic hazards which could be a huge threat to the local people and those essential infrastructures (e.g. the Europe-Asia railway and the petroleum pipelines) in Central Asia. Therefore, the questions I’d like to answer are where the faults are and how big earthquakes could be in this region. My research includes the usage of both field work and remote sensing (e.g. satellite images) to spot and measure the surface deformation caused by both previous and ongoing fault activities. By understanding the detailed fault location, geometry and behaviour, we’d be able to do better seismic hazard assessments for preventing severe damages caused by earthquakes in the future.

Do you think you’ve changed since you started at Univ?
Yes. Univ is a large and diverse college where you can meet lots of amazing and brilliant people. It provides the opportunity for DPhil students like me to interact with others who study different subjects and to be engaged with various events but not only about science. Because of this, I’ve become more at ease in social events and I’ve been less shy and more comfortable chatting with new friends. I especially enjoy the various conversations at the formal dinners, which bring up new ideas and broaden my view a lot. And, of course, this inspires me to think and explore more.

How has coronavirus affected your work and life?
Keeping me from hanging out with friends and interacting with colleagues is surely a severe impact on me during this pandemic. In fact, I also lost one (or two) great opportunities to go to Central Asia for field works with my research group, which will definitely be a huge regret for my whole life. The efficiency of working from home is low when I encounter problems or obstacles, so I’ve also been figuring out the best way to ask for help under this circumstance. However, there are still some positive impacts. First, this pandemic somehow improves my time management. Second, since lots of conferences and workshops are online now, I also get to attend much more interesting meetings, lectures and courses. In fact, life seems to be a bit busier than before and there are much more things we can do and learn even if just staying at home now.

How have you found moving and living in Oxford?
I like Oxford a lot. I think this city is very suitable for living. I like the size, the architecture, the rivers and the parks within this city. It’s not crowded and it’s not far from London nor the countryside, which is just absolutely right. It’s beautiful but not boring; it’s small but not scanty. Most of all, it has the ancient and mysterious atmosphere which is so attractive to me as a fan of history (and Harry Potter).

Chia-Hsin (Wendy) TsaiDo you know what you want to do after your DPhil?
I’m still exploring my future career options. After studying at Oxford and Univ, I’ve realised that there are more possibilities to my career. In East Asia, people usually think a PhD is definitely going to lead to an academic career, but from my experiences at Oxford so far, I think there are many exciting things out there that I want to give them a try.

Describe Univ in three words
Vital, warm, elegant

Published: 15 March 2021

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