Summer School, Nijmegen ’17 – Teamwork is the key.

Have you ever thought about working on a project with other researchers, from all over the world, sharing knowledge and collaborating all together towards a single target? Well probably your answer could be “yes”, but how many of you could also say “…I tried”?

As contributors of this blog, Aliou and Giuseppe are two of the 15 early stage scientists and engineers (ESRs) of CORE Network funded by Marie-Sklodowska Curie Action/ Horizon 2020. Briefly, CORE Network is a European Training Network which is looking for a challenge in the interdisciplinary and cross-sectional field of Continuous Resolution. January of this year – 2017 – our dream in research & technology were becoming true, when we were selected by the academic beneficiary partners respectively in University of Rouen, France and Radboud University, The Netherlands. We strongly believe in what the CORE could offer us: dedicated training programs through our research projects, network events, webinar courses, academic and industrial secondments and many more appealing tasks.

Getting back to the initial question, as part of this network, we are glad we have been given the opportunity to join the group of those whose answer would be “I tried”, but we are also sure that all the other ESRs (Early Stage Researchers) think the same. Clearly, when you first undertake a PhD project is not always easy to handle all the different paths research can take you, but when you face it together with 14 other people, things can be way easier. Since the CORE Network includes 8 different host institutions, you might legitimately think we never work together in a single location, close enough to share information on a daily basis, but you are wrong. And that’s what the twice-yearly meetings (Summer Schools and Workshops) are about.

As you previously read in the first blog contributions by Alex Cousen (if you did not yet, we invite you to do that, it is really worth reading) in the first week of July ’17 a Summer School took place in the stunning location which is the Dutch city of Nijmegen, at the Radboud University, and to be realistic it has been the first yearly event that involved all of the CORE members. Before going deeper into that, a thoughtful “thanks” goes to the organizers of this event: the Professors Elias Vlieg and Hugo Meekes, and the secretary Elizabeth Salem, whose contribution made the meeting a really good one. Now, coming back to it, this experience has been something extraordinary; high-quality lectures based on Chiral Crystallization, Resolution & Deracemization, held by excellent and talented Professors of the partner Universities, have clarified lot of aspects in our minds about the world of chirality within crystals. We were grateful we had the chance to attend great talks in many different subjects such as Continuous Resolution, Deracemization, Viedma Ripening, Thermodynamics, Phase Diagrams, Crystal Growth, and Preferential Crystallization. Furthermore, posters session gave us a first impression on everybody’s project at once and the meeting with the industrial partners has also helped us to understand who we were dealing with. Not only the academic side though has made this Summer School unique..

Indeed, how would it be possible to collaborate with people we do not get along with? The answer in this case is very easy: “It would not be possible at all”. That is the reason why everybody loved this meeting involving the participation for the first time of all of us ESRs. Outside the working hours, we spent lot of time together having dinners, in front of a delicious steak rather than a healthy salad, drinks, laughs and strolls around the outstanding city of Nijmegen. And we must admit that even though for some of us it was the very first time, the vibe was that positive that made us reflect how lucky we were. The Wednesday-afternoon visit at the Kröller-Müller museum (which by the way we truly recommend visiting), as a social activity, was also thought to be a pleasant break from the lectures and a good occasion to establish/reinforce our relationships. We felt already friends with each other, not only workmates.

ESRs Summer School
ESRs in one picture: Italy, India, Japan, Lebanon, Hungary, Germany, Pakistan, Belgium & Senegal reunited in Nijmegen for the Summer School – July ’17.

Thinking back to those days, the first thought mixed with a sense of nostalgia is that probably one week was not enough, but on the other hand instead it inspires us to work hard to achieve more and more results to share at the next meeting in November ’17 in Romania. As you understood, the goal of this article was to describe the importance of collaboration and teamwork within a research network, and so we want to conclude with a tip. If you will ever have the chance to undertake a career which involves all of these skills, this is our opinion: go for it! There will always be more pros than cons, you will build relationships that eventually go beyond the 9-5 job and some of them can become real and true friendships. Of course, you also need a bit of luck, but if you do not try you will never know… And trust us, it is really worth being able one day to say “I tried”.

Aliou Mbodji
Giuseppe Belletti

Giuseppe Belletti
Department of Solid State Chemistry
Radboud University of Nijmegen

Giuseppe is a PhD researcher at the Radboud University of Nijmegen, The Netherlands, working under the supervision of Prof. Dr. Elias Vlieg, Prof. Dr. Floris Rutjes and Dr. Hugo Meekes, in the departments of Solid State Chemistry and Organic Chemistry. As part of the CORE Network, his PhD project is called “Viedma ripening-enabled chiral synthesis”. His research covers Viedma ripening and temperature cycling deracemizations of mainly pharmaceutical compounds, coupled with the use of specific additives to drive and speed up the process towards the formation of enantiopure products. He also focuses on discovering different racemization approaches and in the synthesis of new organic compounds, to somehow extend the applicability of the Viedma ripening technique.

Aliou Mbodji
SMS Laboratory
University  of Rouen-France

Aliou is a PhD researcher  at the SMS Laboratory –  University of Rouen, France working under the supervision  of Dr. Valérie Dupray, Dr Gabin Gbabode &  Prof. Gérard Coquerel.  His project work is to discover Conglomerate Forming Systems in Suspension using Second Harmonic Generation (SHG).   He also works on Continuous Resolution by Diastereomeric Salt Formation for  pure pharmaceuticals and agrochemicals.

Aliou is one of the 15  Early Stage Researchers of CORE Network Horizon 2020.




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