‘Nothing will ever be the same again for Escúzar’s neighbours after IFMIF-DONES. We are fulfilling our duty by listening and taking them into consideration’
Zaida Núñez is corporal in the Spanish Army, holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Labour Relations and Human Resources, and has been involved in the DONES Preparatory Phase from the beginning of the project. Her work in IFMIF-DONES has focused on the evaluation of the perception of Escúzar’s neighbours of the future infrastructure, key for the implementation and decision-making process in the medium term. Zaida Núñez is certain about people being essential in any project, and her work proves that IFMIF-DONES is much more than a technological challenge. The facility’s impact on sustainability will go beyond energy saving and impact people’s wellbeing.
-How does a member of the Army become interested in IFMIF-DONES and its impact on civilians? What are the synergies with your daily work at your station?
-At the age of 18 I decided to become a professional soldier because I care about people. The Army’s objective is to help, and I have devoted 21 years of my life to this purpose in different postings in Melilla, Seville, and Granada. A few years ago, I began my studies in Labour Relations and Human Resources as a result of my interest in caring about people from different perspectives beyond physical safety, which is what motivated me when I entered the Army. As time has gone by, I have discovered that psychological wellbeing is also important. When Professor Antonio Peña asked undergraduate dissertation students to evaluate how neighbours in Escúzar felt about the upcoming implementation of IFMIF-DONES, it was clear to me that this was the job I had been longing for for years, especially considering that the focus of the evaluation that Antonio Peña and Ángel Ibarra had in mind was unprecedented and belonged to a field which I have always found fascinating: research. Therefore, I do find synergies because my daily work and what I do at IFMIF-DONES are centred on listening and helping people.
-The aim of this task was to evaluate Escúzar’s neighbour’s perception of the IFMIF-DONES project beyond its economic impact. What aspects has this survey focused on?
-My work has focused on evaluating the degree of knowledge of the project among its neighbours on different aspects: its purpose, what is currently being done, how they access information, among others. From this information, we evaluated their main concerns. In this sense, nothing will ever be the same again for Escúzar’s neighbours: there will be new people coming to live to Escúzar, new stores will be opened, and their economy and way of life could become somehow dependent on IFMIF-DONES. I feel we are fulfilling our duty by listening and taking them into consideration. I can now say that this is appreciated.
-You have been in contact with neighbours from Escúzar during the last few months. What do people think in general terms about the project?
-Escúzar’s neighbours are well informed people and involved in their community. They know well the features and positive messages that we all read on the press every day, as well as the economic opportunity, the transformation of Granada to a region of Knowledge, etc. But they are also aware that nothing falls from heaven and that a lot of work has to be done to achieve this. This is essential to avoid future misunderstandings. This realistic perspective that they have is due to past experiences but also to the great informative work conducted by Escúzar’s City Council and the University of Granada. In the words of Antonio Peña, one of the main challenges was to explain what this project is but also what it is not. And the neighbours of Escúzar have perfectly understood.
-Before working on this academic study, what was your opinion about IFMIF-DONES? In what way has having worked with people involved in the project and from the City Council of Escúzar changed your opinion?
-When I joined the DONES Preparatory Phase I knew the project through the press and had an official view in terms of opportunity for Granada and the region, creation of employment, etc. I had not asked myself about what was really going to be done from a technical perspective. Almost two years later, having worked in a multidisciplinary team has helped me understand the significance of the project and its different perspectives: what will be done, the role of Escúzar in the race towards nuclear fusion, but also which are the concerns and hopes of people beyond economic aspects, which is what truly motivated me to join this project.
-In line with this, your work at the DONES PREP project and your profile are clearly multidisciplinary and transversal. Do you think that projects exclusively scientific and technical are at the end of their days?
-Absolutely. During this time, I have learned that IFMIF-DONES is not a physics project, but a global project in which past, present and future participants will have provided a unique perspective. I find this range of visions essential. At the same time, other symbolic and extremely complex projects that are currently being developed, such as ITER, or DEMO in the future, cannot be understood from a narrow curriculum perspective. I strongly believe that a multidisciplinary approach is an essential condition for progress of humanity.