After 4 years (time goes incredibly fast these days...) I found myself back in my first 'home away from home' town to celebrate 20+ years of Marine Biology being taught at Plymouth.
Was a pleasure to see the town again (nothing has changed, frozen in time, apart from my perspective of space and what constitute long distances...), catching up with people I have not seen in a long time and seeing the professors - whom I have to thank profusely for teaching me so well and inspiring me to be where I am now.
Sentimentalisms aside, on the Saturday of the reunion we sat in a lecture theatre and heard very inspiring talks (so inspiring I didn't even get one moment of distraction as per usual in conferences!) from Emeritus Professors such as John Davenport and current professors and staff. But to me the most inspiring where the student career talks.
Not because I, myself, got to explain where I am now and how I got here through endless volunteering and internship positions....
But mostly because in all talks there was a recurrent theme: careers are not easy, and the path is not set. If you start doing one thing and you don't like it, don't worry you are not stuck there. You can take what you have learnt and make it useful in a slightly different position, or change field completely (hey someone went from marine biologist to nuclear scientist! You can too if you put your mind through it!). Just remember to learn, keep learning, keep meeting people, keep taking opportunities. No, the next job won't fall for you through the sky. No, you have to work for it. And keep your eyes opened: you never know who will you meet. Speak to as many people, and don't be afraid to ask.
Another, less career-oriented but scientifically important, theme running through the day was that we should find solutions instead of problems.
Some solutions included Dimitrios Kaloudis research on using microalgae for phosphorus removal in wastewaters , or Robyn Wright PhD research on understanding whether microbes could be useful for plastic recycling.
Overall a great weekend, great talks and great inspiration!
Of course a boat trip to Mount Edgcumbe couldn't go amiss...
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