Student profiles

A few of ISE's students answer some questions about their study experience and living in Iceland.

  • Abra-1

Current Students

Abra Roberta Gold, United States

Name: Abra Roberta Gold
Age: 23
Hometown:  Apollo, Pennsylvania, United States of America
Academic Background:   BSc Geology, Pennsylvania State University
Major & Class: Sustainable Energy Science , Class of 2023

Could you share with us a little bit about where you are from and your academic journey before attending Iceland School of Energy?

My hometown is Apollo, just outside Pittsburgh in Pennsylvania, United States. My academic journey started in Erie, right next to the great lake, at a branch campus of Pennsylvania State University called PennState Behrend. My goal was to become a hydrogeologist and specialize in water resource management. I moved from the lakeside to the Appalachian mountains to pursue this goal. Still, as I continued my studies, I discovered that I was interested in volcanology and geothermal energy. The only problem for me was that geothermal energy was not a big field in my college; only a few professors taught me about this subject, and there were no master's projects available.Therefore, I knew I had to travel to pursue my education. 

In 2021 I completed a bachelor 's thesis on Icelandic volcanology and decided to move to Iceland to study geothermal energy resources at Reykjavik University . What better place to explore geothermal energy than on a volcanic island with active, deep geothermal drill sites, right?


How did you end up in Iceland and what drew you to Iceland School of Energy?

Iceland has always been a country on my bucket list. The scenery, culture, and geology seemed so attractive! Before moving to complete my studies, I had a few opportunities to go to Iceland. Still, because I was already busy with a bachelor's degree, finding the time to visit wasn't easy. Toward the end of my thesis writing period, I realized that I wanted to switch my academic track and start studying energy, so I asked my thesis advisor where I should go to do so. When my advisor suggested I move to Iceland to start studying geothermal energy at Reykjavik University, I applied to the program!

What are you most looking forward to going into your second year of studies?

I look forward to working on my master's thesis in Quebec City, Canada, at the Institut national de la recherche scientifique (INRS) for six months. Quebec City is gorgeous; there are many places to explore, hike, climb and camp while completing my studies, so I am very excited about this upcoming year. Hopefully, I will learn some French along the way and discover some new recipes that I can add to my cookbook. In December, I will move back to Iceland to present my thesis defense. It will be nice to see friends, enjoy live music downtown, and play chess in 12 tones.

What are you focusing on for your thesis and how far along are you?

Currently, I am working on a project regarding solutions to permafrost thaw with borehole thermal energy storage. I have already completed the second draft of my literature review and am reviewing it for submission. Over the coming year, I will look at different options that have already been developed to determine how these mitigation strategies reduce the effect of storing energy in the subsurface on permafrost.

Do you know what you'd like to do after you graduate from Iceland School of Energy?

I want to move to Norway further to pursue my studies regarding borehole thermal energy storage systems. Traveling around more sounds appealing, too. Regardless, I want to work with shallow geothermal systems, and I have some time to figure out where I want to go and which part of the field I want to specialize in.


What has been the greatest takeaway you've acquired from studying at Iceland School of Energy?

This program offers many opportunities for students to travel and gain perspectives on energy solutions in different countries. For instance, I recently went on a trip to Perugia, Italy, for a geothermal cycling training conference. There I learned more about shallow geothermal systems and toured a restored, sustainably powered historical site. I'm grateful for the connections I've made with other students and professionals worldwide, and I've learned so much more about my field of study.


What do you enjoy most about living in Iceland?

I enjoy traveling the most. There are so many beautiful sites to visit all around the country. I miss the giant snowy mountains in Akureyri and the puffins at the Westman Islands in the south. Visiting spectacular views and climbing cliffs around Iceland is an experience that I will never forget. (Remember to park your car far away from the horses. Otherwise they will lick the paint off the car because it tastes like road salt.)

To all the potential students and professionals considering graduate studies, why should the choose Iceland?

Iceland is an excellent gateway to the Americas and Europe, so many people come from both continents to study and exchange perspectives. This program offers opportunities to learn about different fields that are great to take advantage of. Seeing how other countries, including Iceland, manage geothermal systems was a good way for me to expand my knowledge in my field. I also took advantage of the opportunity to visit the Nesjavellir Geothermal Power Station to see an active drill site, and having that interactive experience was very valuable.

About Iceland School of Energy

By bringing together the best from industry and academia, Iceland School of Energy provides a unique, and comprehensive training for its students. A wide range of courses taught by the very best in their field open a broad spectrum of possibilities for students and allow for individual study designs. Focus is put on close collaboration with industry experts while maintaining high academic quality of the work.

Iceland School of Energy is part of and accredited by the School of Science and Engineering at Reykjavik University in Iceland.

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