Blog

As it happens with newspapers and scientific journals, the title of the article is essential to capture the reader’s attention. In fact, when I get into the TED talks website -if you don’t know what this is, I highly recommend you to google it- the title of the talk decides entirely what I watch.

Humans adapt fast. With the advent of internet and its great services came a new philosophy of trust. Before we were trusting in institutions, for example a reputable hotel or taxis approved by the government. Now we happily rent a room in the apartment of some dude with a lot of likes on Airbnb. Or we decide to go on a road trip of several hundred kilometres with a stranger suggested by Blablacar. The paradigm of trust is changing in a beautiful way with technology. Yet we have to take care about the arrival of crowd-sourced trust. If left unsupervised this celebration of faith can turn sour for us both as service providers and clients in the future.

Before starting this project, everyone had warned me about the drawbacks of pursuing a PhD: “a PhD is very hard”, “you will have to work during the weekends”, “publishing articles is very difficult”, “you need to select carefully your research topic, otherwise it will become too tough”, “you will be much older than the rest of PhD students and you will finish it even older, are you sure u want to start one now?”. However, no one told me that sometimes I was going to feel alone during the PhD. Yes, discovering that feeling was a great surprise for me.

I recently got back the evaluation of my second year interview with the Doctoral School. The committee gave me a good note and stated that “the student shows a very good attitude towards the difficulties associated with the realization of a European industrial doctorate”. I took this as a great compliment and a correct analysis of the situation. Despite my supervisors positive words about my progress I currently feel like I am dragging myself through mud.

In the modern age it is quite common to come across people with mental disease. Or, at least this is how the society define them. Indeed we need to label (or maybe we should use “to tag” since we are in the era of the social network!) the others, we need to find a “name” which can allow us to distinguish between ourselves and the rest of the world. However, although I am not a huge fan of the current society, this behavior is something peculiar of the human beings, it has been always like that and it will always be. So, this is not a criticism of the modern society, the aim of these words appearing on this text is to try to come a bit closer to people we judge completely different from us, a way to reduce the gap between “us” and who we classify as unstable, precarious, which sometimes turn into freak!

Most of us attended a meeting, workshop, conference or an event that brings people together. Yet only few get to look behind the scenes of event organization. A few months ago I had exactly that possibility when I have been organizing an event for the Marie Curie Alumni Association (MCAA) at the University of Bristol, UK. My expectations and the result were different and surprised me in many ways. One thing is sure, it was a great experience and a lesson to learn.

Next week I will travel from Antwerp to Girona for the training course and meeting that we have within the project two times per year. Today, the majority of people would without thinking opt for the plane for such a trip. Cheap flight tickets have made Europe within reach for city weekends, one-day business meetings, and escalating emissions of greenhouse gases.

Narrow streets, fascinating churches, medieval walls, cheap-but-at-the-same-time-tasty food, a river with lovely bridges, independentist flags in almost every balcony, the sea very close and high mountains nearby as well… To me, it seems the right mixture of ingredients to be used as a set of the last Season of the TV series “Games of Thrones”.

Writing! That thing nobody told you was 50% to 80% of your time in academia. And seriously, somebody should have. Especially in Spain, where there is this terrible habit of classifying career paths into “letters” or “sciences” (aka “numbers”). No matter what you choose, in the end, writing skills are amongst the most important abilities in a scientist arsenal - yes, arsenal, because academia is like war in way too many senses.