ESR 15, Inesa Lelyte, working at Experimentica, discusses her journey through ORBITAL and the growth and challenges shes experienced.
It is all about consistency.
The word ‘consistency’ isn’t pretty, or exciting, or trending, but it is the essence and ‘daily bread’ of a PhD student.
One of the greatest examples of consistency is the Ten-Thousand Hour Rule, which states that it requires 10,000 hours of practice to achieve mastery in a field. And 10,000 hours of your work will never happen by chance, you have to regularly and consciously work toward a single goal. All the professional athletes, musical virtuosos, or our own mothers spend all these consistent hours to achieve greatness. And working in science is not an exception.
But how to be a consistent scientist? Here are some examples how ORBITAL project gives us an excellent opportunity to be ones:
A possibility to consistently communicate our science to others. The beauty of ORBITAL is that it gives you a feeling you are not alone. This project includes 15 early-stage researchers, twice as many research supervisors, project managers, clinicians and patient team members, and others. Being in this scientific surrounding we have a chance to communicate our ideas and share our findings so that they could be challenged there needed and clarified for a better understanding. Every Thursday we participate in Journal Club meetings, which is led by Dr. Simon Kaja.
During Journal Club we discuss scientific papers, engage in discussions, critically and honestly evaluate studies’ strengths and weaknesses, and certainly take away insights on what to do (or not to do J ) in our own work. Every month we have supervisory committee meetings to discuss our ongoing work, and to lay down future plans. We are sharing our progress, ask various questions, in order to always keep going forward, even in small steps. Every year we have ORBITAL meetings with all our scientific community, during which we have a possibility to present our work, get feedback from the greatest minds, participate in different trainings, and, most importantly, meet each other via zoom. And in 2022 we are all finally meeting each other face-to-face in Santiago de Compostela, Spain! Every Thursday, every month, every year – this is what I meant by saying consistent.
A possibility to consistently grow in different surroundings. Another charm of ORBITAL project is that we have a possibility to conduct our research in different countries. We all start in our host institutions and later on all the ESRs have an opportunity of being hosted by worldwide leading research institutions or companies. The secondment experience has a major positive impact on our adaptability and flexibility, and it is a perfect opportunity to enhance different skills when dealing with a new set of working environment, languages and cultures. Currently I am writing you from stunning Chicago (USA). I came here two months ago for my first secondment with three main aims: first, to improve my knowledge on technical fields related to my project. One of my project goals is by injecting lentivirus constructs to develop a novel rat model which mimics the ocular complications of diabetes. Before injecting those constructs in the rat eye, first I have to verify viruses work in cell culture. This task I am currently performing at Loyola University Chicago. Since I am an in vivo (working with laboratory animals) specialist, to conduct my research in vitro (working with cell cultures) was really challenging for me. Being here in Chicago I had to learn everything from basics, how to culture and split cells, how to prepare and change the media, and how to perform various techniques, including ELISA, qPCR, and Western Blotting. The second aim of my secondment here in Chicago was to meet new people from other cultures and backgrounds. I had a possibility to grow as individual by encountering people with different cultural and religious beliefs, customs, sense of humor, and views toward family, work, health, & social issues. And the last but not the least aim was to travel and explore this beautiful country. I had a chance to explore Chicago streets, see majestic Grand Canyon, and do one of the world’s famous hikes ‘Angel’s landing’ in Zion park. Thus, during our secondments we consistently grow professionally and personally.