Profile: Diana Avadanii
Diana Avadanii (2013, Master’s & DPhil Earth Sciences), Junior Dean, came to Univ as an undergraduate and then stayed for a DPhil to research rock rheology and mineral physics more closely. Diana has also been a member of Univ Chapel Choir, a student ambassador and Treasurer of Oxford University Kickboxing Club. Last year she won first prize in the Virgin Galactic Unite Challenge with Matthew Riding (Trinity College).
What led you to pursue a DPhil?
I am one of “those people” who really wanted to pursue a doctoral degree from day one of undergraduate. I did my undergraduate studies at Univ as well, and I arrived here with a keen interest in planetary interiors and processes. My curiosities shifted due to practical labs and tutorials during my undergraduate degree. I gained a strong interest in laboratory studies of small-scale processes, which is what I ended up investigating in my master thesis, and now as a DPhil. While I applied to other graduate programmes too, I was keen and very happy to join the interdisciplinary NERC DTP at Oxford.
Give your specialist subject pitch.
What happens when you use sub-microscopic diamonds (10x smaller than the averaged width of a human hair) to poke minerals and metals? I am also developing a deformation apparatus to twist a doughnut-shaped metallic sample.
Do you think you’ve changed since you started at Univ? If so, how?
Given that my journey at Univ started in 2013, yes, one would hope I’d changed significantly. However, I think I’ve also changed since the start of my DPhil in 2017. One thing that has significantly changed for me is my relationship with sports. I didn’t do many sports in school or undergraduate, but the active culture at Univ and Oxford made me determined to become more active during my DPhil. I ended up joining the Kickboxing Club in 2017 and served as Treasurer. I’ve also picked up powerlifting, and I lifted with Linacre Ladies that Lift for a while. After that I’ve kept improving on my own, as I am a regular at the gym now. Since the second lockdown started I have really enjoyed the erg machine in Radcliffe Quad.
Why did you apply for the role of Junior Dean? How are you finding it?
I applied because I am very fond of my Univ undergraduate experience and I felt I was ready to give back to the community. I am really enjoying the role. My research is focused on fundamental properties of minerals, and while it is exciting and novel, the nature of the work is such that I don’t get to enjoy its outcomes on a short time scale. I am incredibly grateful that in my role as Junior Dean I get to see the immediate impact of my efforts. In this sense, it gives me great satisfaction to be able to help members of the Univ community in any way.
Do you have any favourite moments from your time at Univ so far?
Many! One of my favourite moments that we share as a community is the Christmas candlelit evensong and the Christmas hall dinner. It’s one of my favourite Univ traditions. In the past years I’ve felt like I have celebrated Christmas twice: once it was Oxmas, and once it was Romanian traditional celebrations with family and friends. It makes me incredibly sad that current first years don’t have the opportunity to enjoy the Univ Christmas formal similar to previous years.
What role does art play in your life?
Painting is something I have done for quite a while now. It is my go-to recreational activity. I used to have a strong interest towards portraiture while in high school, and in many regards I still do. My favourite portrait in Univ Hall is the portrait of President Festus Mogae (1965, PPE) by David Cobley (on the South Wall). I was incredibly enthusiastic when I saw one of the study drawings for this portrait at an exhibition in London.
However, living in Oxford has made me appreciate and interact with the urban space differently. I really enjoy Oxford’s architecture and I’ve often enjoyed outdoor observational sketching here. I also enjoyed participating in life drawing classes at the Ruskin School, Univ, and other colleges. In the last three years I’ve been participating in local exhibitions with the Oxford Art Society.
Describe Univ in 3 words.
Motivational, progressive, home
Diana is active on Instagram.
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