New day, new lab

secondment /səˈkɒndm(ə)nt/


noun: secondment; plural noun: secondments

the temporary transfer of an official or worker to another position or employment.


In a month, I will be going to Nijmegen for a month to conduct experiments at the FELIX laboratory in collaboration with Julianna Palotas. It is a part of my secondment which every early stage researcher (ESR) under the Marie Sklodowska Curie ITN is required to complete.  

During a secondment, the ESR spends a couple of months at a host institution within the network. The idea is that the ESR should be exposed to new techniques, new work and research environments and to help develop long-term collaborations in the network. Every ESR is encouraged to go to an academic and an industry-based host institution. Choosing a host institution is guided by the research goals of the network and the relevance of the new technique/ research experience to their own work.  

Shreyak, Julianna, Evgeny and Georgios at their host institutes with their host ESRs

A few ESRs have already spent time at their host institutions and learnt new techniques apart from learning new cultures and meeting new people. Dario Campisi who works at Leiden moved to Milan for a secondment where he learnt new techniques in quantum chemistry and helped forge a collaboration between Leiden, Aarhus and Milan universities. Gabi Wenzel is currently gaining exposure to research in industry at Hiden Analytical. Julianna Palotas and Shreyak Banhatti worked at each other’s setups at Nijmegen and Cologne respectively and now have a large circle of friends in both cities to hang out with. Georgios Pantazidis is visiting Lorenzo’s lab at Muenster and Lorenzo Madii Fabiani will spend some time in Georgios’ lab at Aarhus later this year. Evgeny just returned to Toulouse after spending three months in Aarhus learning a novel theoretical technique at Zeyuan Tang’s group. In July this year, a majority of the ESRs will spend a month at Bristol as a part of their secondment to Graphic Science where they will set up a pop-shop and disseminate their research work.

While encouraging collaborations, secondments also help ESRs make decisions about their future – whether to stay in academia or move to industry and open doors to complementary techniques that they can use in their future research career. For someone like me who likes travelling and experiencing new cultures, a secondment is a great opportunity as I can spend a considerable time in a new city and go beyond being a tourist.

This blog post was written by ESR Rijutha Jaganathan who is currently pursuing her PhD at Aarhus University, Denmark.