This year I have been on two secondments, so I have spent very little time in Leeds. Both secondments have been great and added value to my personal development and to the development of my project: “Novel Approaches to Membrane-bound Pyrophosphatase Structures”.
-Whom did you visit and what did you do?
First, I went to Arwen Pearson’s Group at the University of Hamburg to do time-resolved crystallography experiments (check out Diogo’s blog posts if you want to know more about this) at the German Electron Synchrotron or Deutsches Elektronen-Synchrotron (DESY). This has been a great experience as being located at a synchrotron is, first of all, super cool. As added benefit, I had the chance to shoot many of my protein crystals. This allowed me to collect enough data to solve my first protein structure.
After my time in Hamburg, I went to Molecular Dimensions in Newmarket for my industrial secondment where I continued with Cristina’s work on the development of a new product. This was a contrast to my past research secondments, but just as interesting as I was facing a totally different set of questions in an industrial environment.
– What did you learn in your secondments?
In Hamburg, I got much more experienced in collecting data at synchrotrons. Additionally, I learned how to process the data to get a structure and refine it. At Molecular Dimensions, I had to change my perspective and put myself in the supplier’s shoes. I was involved in, and learned about, the design, pricing and production of a product, which was very exciting and new to me.
– Did you miss your home institute/city?
During my secondments I met a great bunch of people that were all very welcoming and helpful. Although I was in new cities and work environments, I never felt alone. Hamburg is also relatively close to my home town Hannover, I so used this opportunity to visit my family and friends back home on some weekends. Coming back to Leeds was also nice after being away for a long time of course!
– If possible, would you like to go back?
With those two secondments done, I was in total 7.5 months away from my home institute. I had a great time, learned a lot, met amazing people and made good progress on my research projects. However, going on a successful secondment requires a lot of organisation beforehand. As I am in my third and final year now, I am happy that I can spend the rest of my time in Leeds to focus on finishing off my projects, tying up loose ends and writing my thesis. After my PhD, I would happily go back if the opportunity arises.