Cassian Pirard Ph.D

Education & previous occupations

2000 - Building up my interest in natural sciences - After doing most of my secondary education in Belgium, I finished my last year in New Zealand, during which my innate interest in the observation of nature truly crystallized into a life objective. On my return to Europe, I started a degree in Earth & Environmental Sciences and eventually developed a strong interest in Geological Sciences.

2005 - Research on exotic geological locations - By the end of my graduate studies, I spent considerable time doing field mapping in the Ardennes mountains and eventually finished my studies with a thesis on copper-cobalt-uranium ore in Katanga (D.R. Congo). In 2007, I finished another research project on rare minerals in Namibia, Rwanda & France, leading to my M.Sc thesis.

2007 - Research on the plumbing under volcanoes - I was given the opportunity to start a PhD program at the Research School of Earth Sciences (RSES), ANU, Australia in early 2007; at the time RSES was considered in the top 5 best places in the world for geological research and it was very exciting time to work there.

               At RSES, I did my PhD research on understanding what exactly happens around 100 kilometers below volcanoes, where elusive reactions occur to produce magma. This work was partly done in a laboratory using ultra high-pressure devices to recreate rock from the deep Earth and another part was based on field work done over several months in an archipelago of the Pacific Ocean named New Caledonia.

               During that time I was also involved with numerous teaching activities including field trips, practicals and public outreach as well as some technical support for some scientific instruments (electron microscope, mass spectrometer,...)

2011 - Technician for fancy scientific equipment - For a few months, I worked at the Vrije Universiteit of Amsterdam in the Netherlands as a post-doctoral position for technical support for post-graduate students using electron microscopes and X-ray fluorescence instruments.

2012 - More research on volcanoes - I moved back to Australia in the area of the Great Barrier Reef at James Cook University. I initially started as a research post-doc focusing on the recycling of oceanic crust under volcanoes. This research was supported by rocks from the Alps, Kazakhstan, China and New Caledonia that I knew already quite well.

2013 - The beginning of intensive teaching - In addition to research, I became lecturer for undergraduate and postgraduate geology students. I was mainly teaching minerals and volcanoes for 2nd B.Sc and Igneous Petrology (that's the name of the real hardcore science behind volcanoes) in 3rd B.Sc and post-graduates.

2014 - Lab management - Another duty next to research and teaching was the supervision of students and researchers in a rock-processing and analytical facilities. My laboratories included a series of devices to crush and mill rocks, separate them into their primary components, preparing them for different kind of analysis. The next step required sophisticated and complex instruments to analyse extremely small amounts of atoms in all kind of materials, using electron microscopes, X-ray fluorescence, mass spectrometers etc.

2016 - Change of path - I moved to Chiang Mai in late 2016 and bought some land in a remote area on the foothills of Doi Inthanon. There I spent most of my time building my own house, bringing water and electricity and still developing my land for my family and my horses.