Sharing the caring: Prof. Dr. Athanasios Vafeidis

What is the nature of your work?

I´m working on assessing the impacts of future sea level rise: not only physical but also socioeconomic impacts. We account for climate change but also for socioeconomic developments.

Career as a researcher.

I have been relative mobile. I did my first degree in surveying engineering at the National Technical University of Athens. I did my Master in Physical Geography at the University of London (King’s College), where I also did my PhD. Between Master and PhD I worked one year in the industry, as environmental consultant. After my PhD I worked as Postdoc for three years at the Flood Hazard Research Centre (Middlesex University). I was a visiting researcher at the University of the Aegean (Greece) and at the University of Southampton (UK) until I moved to Kiel: first as junior professor and now I´m a full professor at the Institute of Geography of Kiel University.

Photo from Prof. Dr. Athanasios Vafeidis’ personal archive.

Please describe briefly your family commitments.

I try to see the children as regularly as possible. Also for language reasons: I would like my children to speak Greek, so that they could be able to communicate with their relatives, since I am the only Greek-speaking person in the family. My wife is German, so the only possibility that my two children have to speak Greek is with me.

I see my children in the morning, we spend one and a half hour together. I try to be home at latest at 6/6:30 p.m. in order to prepare dinner for them and have dinner all together, bring them to bed, read with them a bit. We spend the holidays together. I try to share the duties with my wife in those cases the children are sick. My wife is a lawyer and she works part-time, until about 3 o´clock, and then she takes care of the children. To be fair I think she takes a bit more of the burden, also due to the fact that she works less hours. My wife completely supports me and says I could stay longer at work but I would rather spend the evenings with my family. Important for me is to learn to stop thinking about work while I am with the children. Otherwise it is not fair to them.

How do you balance your work and family commitments?

Balancing family and career is very difficult and the academic system does not account for it. But it is not just the university, it is the society. In other countries it is different. I think devoting time to your family definitely compromises your career, on the other hand devoting time to your career compromises your family, I guess. I think, if you want to keep your research active and fulfil your obligations at the university regarding teaching and administration the time is not enough, eventually it takes time from your sleep. Some acknowledgment or support for parents definitely would be appreciated.

Is there anything else that you would like to share?

Family needs more support, particularly women I have to say. Support with practical measures. For instance, part-time professorships would be great. A reduction of teaching for parents would also be helpful.