My Path Through Research

The Trials and Triumphs of Doing a PhD

Pisa…A Research Visit

In the last post I left you with my arrival in Pisa. Now, having completed my time there, I am back in London. But how did it go, and why did I go there?

The first aim of my visit there was to determine a method for the extraction of the dyes from my photographs, followed by their separation using chromatographic methods. Thus, the majority of the first two weeks was spent trying out the methods mentioned in literature for similar methods (since none were found for my exact requirements), and then depending on the results obtained modifying the methods to obtain the best methods we could. This is proably one of the most tricky parts of a research project, since it can take a very long time till the best combination is determined. Luckily, we found something we could work with, and thus could get on to the next part of the work. This involved analysing aged photographs using chromatographic and colourimetric methods and correlating the two. What about the  results for this? I must say not all the results are perfect, but at least I proved what I was there to do.

What about the other aspects of the research trip? I must say it was great! I enjoyed the work, the people, the lifestyle…everything. Being in Pisa also meant I could get to other parts of Tuscany quite easily…so I visited Florence, Siena, Lucca, Cinque Terre, Certaldo etc. I also had people visiting me, which was nice.

I think that it is not enough from these research trips to take only the work, but it is so much better if you can experience a bit the life in that place…you really do gain a lot…not just in friends, and results, but also in other skills such as project management and time management (since you are there for a limited period of time).


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Research Trips

A good point to doing a PhD is definitely the travelling you get to do (especially if you have a supervisor who supports you and is interested in sending you to conferences and in working with other people). Luckily I have one of these supervisors ;). So far I have been to a workshop in Ljubljana, Slovenia, where I attended two workshops: One on the use of GC-MS to analyse small quantities of mixed organic materials by a research group from Pisa, Italy. The second workshop on the next day was on the use of NIR/Chemometrics in Cultural Heritage (which is something which I will use quite a bit in my PhD).

But this is not the only research-related trip for this year. Around the beginning of March my supervisor asked me if I would be interested in going to do some work in Pisa (with the research group I attended a workshop by in Ljubljana). I immediately said yes, both as I like travelling, but also as I knew that there I could get work done which would be difficult to do in London on my own. So my supervisor started some correspondence with this research group, and luckily they accepted to host me :). I then I applied for a grant through COST, “an intergovernmental framework for European Cooperation in Science and Technology” by the end of March. Beginning of April I received back that I was accepted for a grant through this programme…and Voila’! I’ll be in Pisa for the month of May!

I arrived in Pisa last weekend, and will be here till the 1st of June. So far I am really enjoying myself, and the work seems to be happening (it is still the first two days, but at least we are working on something). I am so glad for this opportunity. Will let you know how it goes!

Filed under: Experiments and Methodology, Travel, , , , , ,

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