How to survive a Dutch heatwave

Okay the title was a trick, I do not know how to survive the heatwave and I myself am barely coping. I will start my blog this time a little differently. Recently, someone who is considering starting a PhD asked me for some advice on what it takes to do one, so I tried to summarise the advice in an easy to remember way:

Positivity. If you become negative and allow unsuccessful experiments, or daunting presentations to bring you down, you will find it hard to motivate yourself. Just remember to appreciate it when you get good results!

hard work. Of course it is going to be a challenge, it is the highest level of degree you can obtain so you can’t expect it to always be easy. You need to enjoy learning and developing skills, as it is a constant process.

Data. Lots and lots of data. Because, of course, without data you would have nothing to analyse and write about!

It goes without saying that I recommended them to go for the PhD, as it has been such an incredible experience for me so far!

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(Some Cow’s trying to avoid the 34+ degrees in Wageningen)

The last couple of months since my last blog post have been very busy. I won’t go into too much detail about the summer school in Prague, as I know that my colleagues have already discussed it. I will just say that it was a fantastic opportunity to visit a beautiful city and great to hear from my fellow ESR’s about their research. I have mentioned in my previous blogs that it is very easy to get caught up in your own research bubble, so it was refreshing to hear about the progress being made for the FoodSmartphone project as a whole.

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(The beautiful city of Gouda, where the organic chemistry PhD’s went for the annual lab trip)

Speaking of the other ESRs, in the last few weeks we have been able to select a new PhD candidate to join the project (and she will also be based in Wageningen at RIKILT). It was eye-opening to be part of the interviewing process, and to see how it is on the other side of the table. I am really excited to have a new colleague starting, especially as she will be sitting in my office, so we can work and collaborate more directly. Although there are other PhD’s at RIKILT, as it is technically a research institute (rather than a university), we do not have a huge amount of contact with each other. That’s why it will be great to have another PhD joining the team.

This past week I have been working on putting together my manuscript for my second paper. I have mentioned before that I enjoy writing, so I actually love this part of the PhD. As I have recently had the opportunity to do some reviewing work for Trends in Analytical Chemistry, this has strengthened by ability as an author, as I can see what a reviewer for a journal expects to see in a good article. It is such a great feeling to look back over the experiments you have performed and to be able to create a logical and informative story with them. I will say, without a doubt, the worst part of writing a scientific paper is gathering all the info for the materials and methods sections. It has you running back and forward from your office to the lab constantly looking for the companies you have you purchased reagents from, which city they are from, which country, which planet, which universe, blah blah blah. It would be fantastic to create a smartphone app where you can scan the barcodes of all of the reagents you use in an experiment, which then records all of the purchasing information so that you can export it all easily into an M&M section (Jack I am looking at you!).

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(My first sighting of a Hammerhead shark (another of my fav animals) at Burger’s Zoo, Arnhem)

Well, that is it for now as I get ready to start my summer holidays tomorrow. I will travel to travel to the Dutch island of Texel. I am looking forward to Texel, especially as there are apparently a lot of seals (one of my fav animals). I will be sure to update you with photos from the trip in my next post.

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(Cute lego version of a Dutch city)

 

Until then… have a great summer,

 

Gina

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