Davide Picca, assistant lecturer
‘The study environment in Lausanne fizzes with curiosity, with students who know how to enjoy themselves.’
Why did you choose to begin your doctorate in Lausanne?
DP | I was looking for a faculty near to Italy. Above all, however, I wanted to do a multidisciplinary course between the Faculty of Arts and Information Science and Mathematics.
What were your first impressions when you arrived in Lausanne?
DP | In spite of the fact that the two countries are only separated by the Alps, there are enormous differences between Italy and Switzerland. Social relationships are not the same. It may sound like a cliché, but I had to learn to communicate differently with people.
If you had to define the study environment in Lausanne in just three words, what would they be?
DP | The environment fizzes with curiosity, with students who know how to enjoy themselves.
Can you tell us about your career before taking up your post as an assistant lecturer?
DP | I did my first degree in philosophy at the University of Bologna, then my master's at a research institute in Trento. It was on the subject of artificial intelligence but with a philosophical approach.
Can you tell us about any memorable events you have experienced during your assistantship?
DP | When I was an assistant, a master's thesis was severely criticised by a professor for its numerous editorial mistakes. It was at that moment that I understood just how seriously studies are taken at the UNIL.
What do you get out of your work as a graduate teaching assistant?
DP | This opening up towards an interdisciplinary approach has allowed me to explore the contribution of poetry, literature, knowledge.
Did you wish to stay in Lausanne after finishing your doctorate?
DP | In 2010, after completing my doctorate, I went away for two years to Dublin and New York. In Dublin I worked as a linguist for Microsoft. My doctorate helped me, because they were looking for someone who had somehow combined the humanities with information technology. I went to Columbia University to do a post-doc after that and, to finish off, I passed a competitive examination and here I am, back at the UNIL.
Would you recommend Lausanne as a town in which to do your doctorate?
DP | I can recommend the UNIL without hesitation, mainly for the quality of its education.
What is your fondest memory of Lausanne?
DP | My relationships with the other assistants/PhD students. It was an informal and relaxed environment. They are now friends, rather than just colleagues.
Interview conducted by | Tom Crawford