LIH hosted a COST PhD school
From 25th to 27th April 2016, Dr Chantal Snoeck from the Department of Infection and Immunity organised a PhD school at the House of BioHealth in Esch-sur-Alzette in the framework of the COST Action FA1207 “Towards control of avian coronaviruses: strategies for diagnosis, surveillance and vaccination”, in which she is a workgroup leader. PhD candidates of the COST Action working in different European countries attended the event together with foreign trainees and local young researchers.
COST (European Cooperation in Science and Technology) Actions are part of the European framework supporting international cooperation among researchers, engineers and industry and put special emphasis on networking and training of early-stage researchers. The Cost Action FA1207 unites experts in the field of avian coronavirus research. It was officially launched in April 2013 to foster collaborative research in order to better understand the drivers of avian coronavirus diversity, pathogenicity, tissue tropism and cross protection, as well as to find practical solutions for internationally harmonised nomenclatures, rapid and precise detection and typing protocols.
‘The aim of the PhD school was to bring together young researchers involved in avian coronavirus research to share their results and PhD experience, but also to gain knowledge in soft skills that are of outmost importance during a PhD’, stresses Dr Snoeck, who works as a post-doctoral researcher in the Clinical and Applied Virology research group.
Over the three days, the interactive coursework given by scientists from LIH provided the attendees with practical tips in writing peer-reviewed publications (Prof Claude P. Muller), efficient time management (Dr Francisco Azuaje) and optimisation of oral presentations (Prof Daniel Theisen). Specific lectures on emerging diseases were also provided by Prof Claude P. Muller and Dr Maude Pauly. All PhD candidates also had the opportunity to present their research results and discuss about the PhD training in a friendly atmosphere. ‘For some of them, it was their first experience of presenting their PhD results in front of an audience different from their own team. They appreciated to have the opportunity to experiment this before going to a larger conference’, says Dr Snoeck. All participants acknowledged having the possibility to receive training in soft skills that is not often provided by their home institutions.
Three PhD candidates from the department, Josiane Kirpach, Wibke Cramaro and Martha Elwenspoek, who almost finalised their PhD projects, also shared the ups and downs of their PhD trajectory and the lessons learned from it with their peers. From their three very different PhD projects, the common denominator is the personal implication of investing oneself into a four-year project and the toll it can take on the doctoral candidate’s morale. As Wibke so nicely illustrated it, her PhD vision started with a Person Having Dreams, followed by a phase of considering the PhD as a job Pretty Hard to Do but ended up with the whole concept that the PhD is also a Program for Human Development. In addition, Armel Moumouni Sanou, a PhD candidate from Burkina Faso visiting the Clinical and Applied Virology research group for a three months internship, highlighted the differences of undertaking a PhD in a research laboratory in West Africa, compared to Europe.
‘Besides gaining scientific knowledge, undertaking a PhD is also learning a lot about yourself, your strengths and your limits’, summarises Dr Snoeck.
COST PhD school attendees
From left to right: Wibke Cramaro, Josiane Kirpach, Silvia Tritz, Valeria Listorti (IT), Claudia Tucciarone (IT), Giulia Mescolini (IT), Ozge Aydin (TK), Sajid Umar (FR), Martha Elwenspoek, Armel Moumoumi Sanou (BFA), Aurore Maboge, Liz Bohnenberger, Dr Chantal Snoeck.