A perspective on starting a new career in research during the lockdown – by iAtlantic Fellow Danielle de Jonge
The plan was ready, tickets were booked, my partner in life had found the perfect next career move. Then, the COVID19 pandemic decided to “sprinkle soot into the food” (Dutch expression for external conditions sabotaging a plan). Plans postponed, tickets cancelled, job offer withdrawn.
As result of the pandemic I started my PhD in iAtlantic with Andrew Sweetman from the comfort of my mother-in-law’s attic halfway through June. Even though the conditions aren’t optimal, I am very excited to get going! The online discussions between Andrew and I about the project and science have been very fruitful so far, although I miss having a piece of paper or whiteboard to just scribble out ideas.
I will be looking at how the suite of environmental changes predicted for the Atlantic Ocean will influence ecosystem functioning of deep benthic communities. This project will involve quite a bit of fieldwork, where we will sample deep-sea organisms, measure biogeochemical fluxes, and perform experimental incubations. Although the fieldwork is pushed back to 2021, I can already start on constructing a food-web structure based on published data. Switching around the fieldwork and part of the modelling actually gives me the opportunity to get to know the ecosystem, construct my own research questions and hypotheses, and better plan ahead what type of samples I want to collect.
In the meantime, we are trying to navigate all regulations on COVID19 and BREXIT (oh yes, almost forgot – that’s happening as well!) in order to make our relocation to Edinburgh, Scotland a reality soon. I very much look forward to meeting everybody and start settling in a new home and office. Although I love the bonding with my mother-in-law, I can’t wait to start exploring both the Scottish hills and the Atlantic Ocean!
Danielle de Jonge is an iAtlantic PhD student at Heriot-Watt University, UK.
You can read more about our early career researchers – iAtlantic Fellows – here!