While doing my PhD, I often wondered at those theses where a student managed to publish 4-5 times within only 3 years. However, after some digging, or explanatory talk if I happened to know the student in question, I almost always encountered some sort of trick.

27 October 2017

Ugly But Cool

It’s been already more than a year since I arrived in Antwerp to do the industrial part of my PhD at Aquafin. During this time I have really come to love the city and Belgium in general.

Sometimes people look at conferences as something you have to do during your carrier as PhD student. Scientific symposiums are usually addressed as the best chance we have to train that sort of skills which we don’t exercise in our daily life while we are behind a desk, or measuring micropollutants in the lab, or dirtying our hands with activated sludge. In a conference, you have to prove yourself from a different point of view, first of all, we have to stand in front of many people - with much more experience in the field that what we have – and pretend you are at their same level. Of course I don’t pretend PhD students to be at the same level of professors, but in that specific context, up on that stage, we are (more or less) alike. At least we are alike in the sense of we (PhD and Prof.) both have to give a scientific speech about our respective field of interest. Secondly, while you are giving the talk, you have to make sure the audience understand the work you are presenting. And then, only when this happens, they may start listening for real. Hence, if the attendees start to listen, they may end up being hooked by your presentation, therefore by your research. This is tough, challenging, but can generate that kind of feeling you experience in those occasions when you do the right thing… Even more, you do the right thing, and on top of that, you know you did it right! To sum up, if all this happen, you experience “satisfaction”! The third challenge you have to face is “to do enough networking”. Now this could sound either weird or opportunistic, but it’s not. I’m not ashamed of saying that doing some networking, done it in a proper way, is Science as well. Knowing other researchers, from several places around the world, not only open your mind, but most importantly gives you the opportunity of evaluating your own research and, if needed, to re-tune it in a more up-to-date direction. At the same time, obtaining feedbacks and comments from experts, can only have the results of boosting your work up! GREAT!

When we decided to increase the number of family members, we underestimated the extra-work that it meant. We knew that our lives were going to change forever and we were also aware that the first months were going to be terrible: the parents and baby have to adapt to a new environment.