A typical day for an ESR

By Ricardo, Ammanuel and Adrian

Sometimes we as Early Stage Researchers (ESRs), often describe our meetings and training activities but rarely discuss topics such as our daily activities or usual businesses at work. So, in this entry, we Ricardo, Ammanuel and Adrian, want to briefly describe how our everyday life as ESRs is – which, to be fair, is not much different than yours probably (it is not supposed to be though :D) but sometimes it can be exciting and worth telling.

So, everything starts for me (Ricardo) after having a froze-cold shower and warm breakfast in the morning. I head on then to my workplace (DkIT), I do this on my bike, which is a nice way to reach there since you can see the Irish green on the sides while the wind is blowing in your face. Not so good for rainy days though – which are some here in Ireland :/. Once there, I get hands-on with my computer for modelling. I work on catchment modelling so basically trying to replicate the environmental dynamics of rivers so I can then predict how they will be impacted depending on future conditions e.g. future climate change and socioeconomic projections. I really enjoy working on this and discussing the work with my supervisor there but it can become challenging sometimes too when the results are not as expected. However, the balance between work tasks and my friends in the office makes things easier. In our free time, we usually have a good chat and drink coffee which serves as a break from modelling. I like that balance.

Dundalk Institute of Technology (DkIT), Dundalk, Ireland.
Dundalk Institute of Technology (DkIT), Dundalk, Ireland.

I also enjoy doing activities outside the office such as working out or even swimming occasionally. And not to mention the secondments which allow you to experience much more in different places/cultures. Also, sometimes I even have the opportunity to do some fieldwork. For instance, last month I was visiting the Marine Institute here in Ireland (where Adrian is based) and was able to do some hands-on work in the Burrishoole catchment to understand more about how the data I am using for my work is collected. It was by far really interesting and for sure will give me that additional “expertise” to better follow my hydrological-gut-feeling next time I have to take an important decision with respect to modelling that catchment site. As an ESR, it is really good to be able to learn from very experienced people within the network and work alongside them as a team. When I look backwards, I see how much we have been improving and how worth are the “everyday day” activities that one-step-at-a-time take us closer to our goals!

Burrishoole Catchment, Co. Mayo, Ireland.

My (Ammanuel’s) weekdays are off to a meaningful start with spiritual activities that ground me for the day ahead. After my morning prayers and Bible reading, I head off to work at RUB, commuting by bike or tram, depending on the weather. At RUB, I am absorbed in water quality modeling and data analysis using Python, which I deftly navigate as a researcher. During lunchtime, I relish the opportunity to catch up with my colleagues over a meal at the Mensa, discussing everything from current events to personal interests. In the evenings, I like to work on my German language skills through informal classes. Afterwards, I cook myself a delicious dinner and enjoy a leisurely walk, particularly during the mild seasons of spring and summer.

Ruhr-Universität Bochum (RUB), Bochum, Germany

Saturdays are a time for rest and relaxation, and I like to take it easy by sleeping in late, going shopping, and catching up with family and friends back home over the phone. I also love trying out new recipes, often seeking inspiration from YouTube. On Sundays, I attend church, where I find solace and renewal in the familiar rhythms of the service. It’s a special day for me, and I spend it reflecting and preparing myself for another week of fulfilling activities.

I (Adrian) am one of the fifteen Early-Stage Researchers in inventWater too. I’m enrolled as PhD-student at the University College Cork but work at the Marine Institute in the Newport Catchment Research Facility located in the west of Ireland. The Newport facility is fairly remote, and I, therefore, commute from Westport, which is a small town with some 5000 inhabitants, approximately 30 minutes from the office. There are several benefits and drawbacks to living and working in such a rural location, for example, one benefit would be the lack of distractions, and one drawback would be the scarcity of people in a similar life and work situation. Luckily, the west coast of Ireland is beautiful and offers great outdoor experiences when the weather decides to play nice.

The Marine Institute facilities at Newport, Co. Mayo, Ireland

I am a freshwater ecologist, and I’ve spent the last eight years of my life delving into the topic of freshwater ecosystems, with an emphasis on anadromous salmonids. I currently work with projecting climate change impacts on juvenile Atlantic salmon (that is, before they migrate into the ocean), which is quite the challenge. Luckily, I have experienced supervisors that provide helpful feedback and healthy discussions. In addition, the inventWater network provides expertise in environmental modelling which is important for assessing climate change impacts on anadromous salmonids.

In my spare time (although there isn’t too much spare time when you are doing a PhD), I enjoy going to the gym, hiking in the mountains, fishing, and hanging out with friends. Currently, I am on a secondment in Scotland, which provides great networking opportunities, as well as a change of scenery.

All in all, being a PhD-student/Early-Stage Researcher is a weird but nice experience. Often, you acquire skills as you go, and when you look back on your own work the solution often seems obvious, and the time spent superfluous. However, everything is easy when you know how to do it. Sláinte1!

Irish equivalent for ‘cheers’ meaning ‘health’.

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