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A model is a representation of a system using concepts, equations or rules. Almost everything can be modeled today: the revenue and growth of a company, the flight performance of a new aircraft wing, the air pollution and, of course, the amount of pharmaceuticals present in our rivers. You can need them to simulate scenarios (what if….?), forecast the future or extrapolate information. Moreover, when you need to make a decision (a difficult one) you may also need a model to compare the benefits and drawbacks of one alternative decision against another. For my research, a model will be especially useful to compare different strategies to reduce the level of pharmaceuticals in rivers. Who else needs a model to make a decision?

Three papers in three years, and at least one of them in a first quartile journal. That’s what me and my fellows are supposed to produce in return for being well-funded and pampered during the course of our PhD. However, publications are not only the way out of the doctorate, but are the measurement of scientific success today. In fact not only individual scientists, but also institutions, journals and of course papers are ranked according to their importance, partly reflecting the scientific community’s struggle to handle the ever increasing numbers of researchers and published papers [1]. For the rookie all these metrics can be confusing, so, here comes, as much for my colleagues in the project as for myself: an attempt to a guide to the most common ones.

My PhD project is spread across three countries and four institutions which often requires me to pack my livelihood into two bags and move to another place. And guess what, it makes my life an exciting experience. Life on the move is not romantically peachy, but it is one that right now I choose not to trade. The many moves changed me and shaped me to become, I choose to believe, a better person. Taking my stuff and planting it somewhere new is not always easy, however I will try to convince you that it is very much to consider.

If you are in Belgium, sitting in a pub, most likely you are holding a “beer menu” in your hands and you are reading very carefully all the different types of beer you can taste. If the pub is a good one, this choice may be very difficult. There are indeed plenty of beers covering a wide range of characteristics, you can have the sweet one, called Kriek, opting for something more sour, meaning a Lambic or a Gueuze, or choosing for the “big classic”, one of the thousand abbey/trappist beers. So, there is an entire world behind the “cold” statement : “Belgium is famous for beers!”… Actually an abbey beer is different from a trappist one, so in order to not underestimate the real value of this typical local product, we should all attend a course. And a single course, would never be enough.

I have the privilege to be writing this blog entry right after the third TreatRec meeting finished. As the title reads, we are halfway through the project (wait, what? Are you f*****g serious!!? – Yes, I am). And so, I want to dedicate this blog entry to all the TreatRec members and professionals I have come across so far, but especially to my dear project fellows.

It is Saturday the 26th of November, 19.00 pm and I find myself writing my next blog entry sitting on the tram 51 in Brussels. I am trying to arrive to my friend’s apartment to celebrate the Thanksgiving dinner. To be honest, it is the first time I am going to celebrate this American tradition. However, my friend comes from Canada so I suppose he is used to it. Apparently, besides Canada, this festivity is also common in US and some Caribbean islands and it was originally celebrated to give thanks for the blessing of the harvest of the preceding year. I believe this is the reason why they always prepare really large meals on this Day!

Last week I attended a Marie Curie Alumni Association (MCAA) networking event at KU Leuven. The MCAA is an association for current and past researchers benefitting from funding through Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions (MSCA) and this event was organized by the MCAA BeNeLux chapter.

So far we looked at the causes of pollution as our intrinsic ability to create waste as a by-product of life and why the properties of certain pollutants like plastics or fine chemicals make them so useful yet dangerous for our planet. I promised you to finish on a positive note and to show that it is not all bad in the world of pollution control. It is time to take action and I invite you to look at the latest developments in the field together with me.

To fail! Nowadays we are surrounded by the myth of the efficiency. We are told that the “performance principles” is something we should ALWAYS keep in mind. This goes together with the meritocracy and the idea of “the more you get, the best you ore”. There could be some voice out of the choir saying something different, but they are basically overwhelmed by the western standards which are (they already have) invading the rest of the world as well. There is a narcissistic egoism which generates fights and conflict among us and the people around us, and these fight are mostly due to the self-success.