How to be successful in your PhD? An Early Career Forum discussion

Nov 27, 2023

On 10th November, the fifth session of Agrotecnio’s Early Career Forums was organised at the ETSEAFiV campus. Three speakers in different moments of their careers presented their views on what success means and a debate took place before the chocolate tasting.

Eber Rojas opened the session with a presentation about success in research. He thanked the attendees for their participation and welcomed the choice of the topic, “of great interest to young researchers, on which high impact scientific publications are often issued and which, moreover, has been chosen by the youngest researchers of Agrotecnio”, as he put it. Rojas is a post doctorate researcher, member of Agrotecnio’s Bovine Reproduction research group and Early Career Forum founder.

The seminar started with the presentation of Neus Prieto, who recently obtained her PhD. Prieto highlighted the need for motivation, patience and perseverance in order to achieve a PhD, and added that “managing frustration is key to be successful”.

Josu Alday, who is adjunct professor at the UdL and member of the Forest Management research group, commented on his turn that success can be measured as a multifaceted concept: “It’s a path you need to travel. Success is academic -defending your thesis- but also learning or being able to develop our own ideas. Success in your PhD is not the same as success in science”.

To end the presentations, Gustavo Slafer, PI of Agrotecnio’s Crop Physiology, group explained his experience mentoring PhD students and highlighted the fact that a PhD is different from any other stage of education because “students have to produce knowledge” and he encouraged the audience to carefully choose their PhD supervisor according not only to the field of study but also the personal relationship or even if that person is in a different time zone.

Agrotecnio’s R1 and R2 representatives and moderators of the session, Ashwin Vargheese and Giada Centenaro encouraged attendees to write on a piece of paper the ideas that the speeches had triggered and what do they thought is necessary to work on in order to be successful in a PhD. The resulting word-bubbles addressed concepts such as uncertainty about the future or the need for keeping motivation alive during the PhD path.

After the debate, M Paz Romero and Laura Rubió, from Agrotecnio’s Food Bioactive Compounds research group, organised a chocolate tasting in which the different ingredients of chocolate were tasted, followed by four types of chocolate and a blind taste in which participants had to identify the percentage of cocoa a particular chocolate had.

This session was the first Early Career Forum of the academic year 2023-2024. The following one is expected to take place in January 2024.

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