Universiteit Leiden

nl en

Successful first edition FGGA PhD Conference

On the 3rd of November the first ever FGGA PhD Conference took place in the 'Wijnhaven' Building. Organized by the faculty Graduate School and of course intended for PhD candidates. About thirty of them were present.

First times are important. They give us a glimpse of the future, Kutsal Yesilkagit said in his welcome word. "We are on the right track," said the dean. "That we want to contribute to the solution of world problems is certainly reflected in the subjects studied by our PhD candidates - very diverse but all current, all relevant. And we are also on our way to become a community. A community of young talents in science. '

Professor Judi Mesman (Professor Interdisciplinary Study of Societal Challenges and Dean of Leiden University College) began her keynote speech with a question about ideals: "What did you want to be when you were ten years old?". 'Astronaut'. 'Writer'. 'Bus driver'. Mesman herself had once wanted a career as a show dancer, but later switched to explorer. 'Preferably in Africa'. She did not become exactly that (ideals change), but in a sense she did. After her study psychology, she specialized in parenting. In the Netherlands and outside - also in Africa. Her conclusion: "There are many roads you can take after a PhD." Her point was to not stare yourself blind at one career path. And in continuation: "Do not compare yourself too much to others, but try to get clear what you are good at and what you want to do." Consequently, she quoted from the movie The life of Brian, in which the crowd scans: 'We are all individuals!'. Except for one man: 'No, I'm not !!'. "Become that man," Mesman advised.

Subsequently, all PhD candidates participated in two rounds of panel sessions, followed by two workshops ('How to make an impact outside academia' - by Alexandre Afonso and 'Personal branding: Martin Reekers'). The interested but critical look prevailed. The PhD candidates who presented their research in the sessions therefore received the constructive comments they were looking for. "Your definition of core concepts is too vague." "I research something similar, and have had a lot of theory." The speakers benefited from it. "Give me your email address, because I'd like to talk about it further."

At the beginning of the day, Kutsal had expressed the hope that "after this day, you will be left confused. But on a higher level." And that seems to have been successful.