Life in the swishing lane: A PhD’s perspective on being part of an EU project

A lucky few get the chance to be part of European projects, such as STEP (Status and Trends of European Pollinators, http://www.step-project.net/). I have been one of those lucky ones and I hoped to share some insights I have had along the way.

STEP:

STEP: Status and Trends of European Pollinators, http://www.step-project.net/

I started my PhD in April 2011 and was swiftly included on one of the annual meetings with all the P.I.s, Postdocs and PhD researchers.

A cracking team: First meeting in Serbia 2011

A cracking team: First meeting in Novi Sad, Serbia, 2011

Just to give you an idea of how it felt to attend, imagine meeting your favourite musician, actor or all-round epic person. Then multiple it by the number of attendees. Being part of the group enabled you to have a front row seat on the project design and allowed you to learn and participate like nothing experienced before. You learn about individual issues and complications, and you help solve these in creative ways as a team.

Each year you meet and provide evidence for your country’s progress and it gives you opportunity to share and solve new situations, and even add bolt-on projects for the following year. It really gives you an immersive experience mixing with the giants. It doesn’t stop at these meetings, you are in constant contact working together throughout the project.

Pisa_Low res

Taking it to the next level: Second meeting in Pisa, Italy, 2012

Interesting results appear and you consider the next step; joint papers. This is another great leap forward, learning from experienced manuscript creators and who are well practiced at working in large scale multi-national projects. Fascinating and valuable time spent together, you press on rapidly.

New sights: Third meeting in Krakow, Poland, 2013

New sights: Third meeting in Krakow, Poland, 2013

It’s worth highlighting it’s not all work, it’s also travelling together, sharing stories and seeing amazing sights around the world. Each meeting we take the opportunity to go on excursions together.

The most recent highlight has been the workshop this year (last week actually) and the enjoyable and fast-paced discussions on current manuscripts and the future. This may be my fourth meeting, but I still fail at the simple greeting routine for each different country (hug? Hand shake? Two kisses or one?! Cue inevitable collision).

Top workshop: Working in beautiful surrounding of Doñana National Park, Spain, 2014

Top workshop: Working in beautiful surrounding of Doñana National Park, Spain, 2014

I take these chances to also ask about other people’s interests, plans and life goals. We share so many interests, it is fascinating to hear how we all reached the point where we are today. Lots of differences, but overall one united theme, an ambition to make a difference. It’s a very tall order, but I am going to try my best. Prof. Edward Wilson once said “There is no better high than discovery”, I might just add it’s even better with friends.

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Life in the swishing lane: Signpost at Doñana, Spain, 2014

Feeling really privileged to have this opportunity. Hoping there are many more projects for others to have their own adventures.

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