“I’m a very typical case of people doing geology in that I never had any intention of doing it all,” he said.
Now a geoscientist and Associate Professor of Geology and Geochemistry at the University of South Australia, Dr Raimondo was born and raised in Adelaide, where he completed his undergraduate degree, Honours and PhD.
A third-generation Italo-Australian, Dr Raimondo is the product of an endearing migration story.
His paternal grandfather Ernesto migrated from Cuccaro, in Piedmont, in the 1920s and settled in Tully, where he built his own business as a grocer.
It was there that Ernesto met his wife, Rina, who had migrated to Australia from Codognè, in Veneto, in the 1930s.
They later moved to Adelaide with their two sons, and the rest is history.
“My grandparents came over with nothing and, two generations later, I’m doing all of these things they could never have dreamt of,” Dr Raimondo said.
Growing up, the geoscientist always took an interest in sciences such as chemistry, biology and physics, but could never see himself pursuing one in particular.
“I really had no exposure to geology at all until an open day at university when I was making my mind up about what courses I wanted to do,” he recalled.
“I had a lecturer who spoke about all these amazing things that you could study in geology and how it applied all of those different sciences to deal with real practical challenges across the globe.”
Dr Raimondo enjoyed geology from day one and has never looked back.
Now, in his role at the University of South Australia, he divides his time between teaching - mainly first-year students - and research.
He also supervises PhD students from various universities.
“The great part of the job is that I get to work with really clever people across the country,” he said.
“On many occasions throughout the year I’ll be travelling to look at samples, collect rocks or make measurements.”
Dr Raimondo’s career has taken him all over the world, from central Australia to New Zealand and Norway, and allows him to work in some of the most stunning natural laboratories.
His main project focuses on studying deep parts of the root of the MacDonnell Ranges, near Alice Springs, to discover how this mountain chain developed in the centre of a tectonic plate, as opposed to other mountain chains across the globe which are generally formed by the collision of two tectonic plates.
Another of his projects looks at how unusually hot rocks distributed throughout southern Australia may be linked to glacial melting in Antarctica, particularly focusing on the vast Totten Glacier.
“If you put together the jigsaw puzzle of the world, southern Australia was once joined to East Antarctica and they are geological cousins,” Dr Raimondo explained.
“One of the reasons for the Totten Glacier melting may be that there are some hot rocks sitting underneath it. We can’t directly observe them under the thick ice but if we rewind geological time, the exact rocks that sit beneath the glacier are the same ones that sit in southern Australia.
“We’re trying to find out how hot they are and how likely they are to be contributing to the glacier melting to try and better understand how sea level changes might occur in the future and how we can better model those effects.”
In between teaching and studying, Dr Raimondo also visits primary schools and hosts workshops at the university, hoping to get more kids enthusiastic about geoscience.
“It’s very easy to get young kids excited about geology,” he laughed.
“You only have to talk about meteorites and dinosaurs and you’re set.”
Dr Raimondo highlighted that while geology is taught well at a primary school level, it isn’t taught extensively at most secondary schools.
“When students are making decisions about what they want to do at university, they haven’t seen or done geology in many years and it’s not at the front of their minds as an option,” he added.
“We need to do more to get it into secondary school curricula and pepper it throughout other core subjects, because it’s so relevant to so many of them.”
Dr Raimondo also participated in last year’s ABC Radio National’s Top 5 Under 40 program, spreading the word about geology and dispelling any negative misconceptions about the science.
“Geologists are sometimes seen as people who dig things out of the ground and send them to other countries, creating all of these environmental issues,” he said, referring to the mining industry.
“In reality, my job is educating students and the next generation of people who are going to have to grapple with all the major environmental issues around us.”
Dr Raimondo reiterated that geology brings together numerous sciences to make for a highly integrative and powerful science in itself.
In a country like Australia, so rich in natural resources, and at a time when the climate and environment are at the centre of the world’s attention, it seems that we should be turning to geology now more than ever.