PhD Acknowledgements

Today, I submitted my PhD thesis. Even though I still need to defend it, it is a reminder that soon, my student life will finally end. At the end of September, my PhD contract will officially ends and with it, it is also the end of an all adventure. But this also means the beginning of a new one, and I really look forward to start this new chapter of my life.
Before that, there are many people I want to thank both personally and professionally. So here is the acknowledgment section I wrote for my thesis.

Twelve years ago, I got this crazy idea to quite my permanent job in a bank office to… go to the university and study ecology. I grew up in an environment where I could do anything I wanted…but where your social origin determines who you are and what you will do. So I thought for a very long time that I could absolutely never do scientific studies, that I was not smart enough for doing this and that even if I decided to try, I would have end up only at a “girl job”. The infamous “silent sexism”. But also probably because it was all we knew. So, thank you to my family for trying to do their best in a complicated life.

14 years ago, I started a job that soon enough I started to hate. It made me realize I needed to do something meaningful for me, more into my believes. This was also a time during which I met the right people. From there, I decided it was time to be happy in my job, even if the people supposed to support me and believed in me did not.

Along the journey, I heard many of my closest friends telling me that I did all of this on my own. I am starting to understand what they mean, but they made this adventure much easier. And I want to thank you all. So be prepared, because it might be the longest acknowledgement section you have ever read.

So that you can follow my adventures, I will write my acknowledgments chronologically: from Paris to Vienna, Norway, and La Rochelle.

When I arrived in Paris, I met THE person who still is one of my closest friends and my chosen family. Emmeline. We met at this job we both disliked very much, but we found each other. Thank you for supporting my decision early on and thank you for making me part of your family life.

Les Solsidiens… Ah… Solidays, les sœurs de la perpétuelle indulgence, les bénés monteurs, les anciens, Yvon, la prod. All of you made my life full of colors, love, hug, respect, hope. You helped me discover that everything is possible and that you can be whoever you want, no matter what people think. You also supported me from the very beginning and have been there since then. I love you so so much. Thank you for crossing my path at some point and/or still being in my life: carine (special thanks for the time spend on checking the English grammar of my thesis J), Josette, PO, Léa, Benito, Mauricio, didou, Grégoire, Nono, Oliv, Ninouche, Angèle, Emilie, Rose, Mistra, Claude, Fabien, Kevin, Mehdi, Delphine, Béa, Sara, Kali, Krys, Nico, Lindsey…

I can’t continue my story without thanking the administrative people I met along the way. Marise Ayn. You made this entire adventure possible by allowing me to start the DAEUB without which I would have never been allowed to start the Bachelor. Thank you for believing in my crazy project.

During my bachelor, there has been many challenges on personal aspects. Going back to a student life was not easy every day (both personally and financially). But I probably met the kindest social worker ever who always made her best for helping me. So, thank you Christine Catala, for making such a great work, being efficient and present for the students you had in charge.

Being an “old” student at the university also had some challenges. My age difference was (and still is) a challenge to fit in. But during the bachelor, I met amazing women, who helped me along the way. So Julia, Agathe, thank you for all the support, the long hours of study (and partying, sometimes^^). Even if we don’t see that much anymore, I will always love you very much.

Eva, Margot, Ange… Thank you for being in my life. Thank you for supporting my insecurity and put me back on track when I need it. I love you so much. Not having you around more often is a heart broken.

And then, during my studies, there was the colleagues, who became friends. Clotilde, my dearest master Yoda. Thankful, I am! Thank you for sharing with me your love for the birds (… the smell of the chicks…), the fieldwork and the science. I still hear you voice when I know I am about to do something wrong. I remember during my bachelor, stating that I will never do academic work. Well… You got me hooked during my first internship with you. Like Obelix, I fall into it and will never be able to stop. Thanks for supporting me, even when I failed the second year of me bachelor. You send me to my first stay abroad. Starting to learn proper English and taking my first flight ever at 28 was not easy. But the challenge was amazing. With you came a full package: les foljuifiens. Sandrine, Amande, Béa, Jean-François, Alexis, Sarah, Vincent, Clémentine. I spend amazing time with you all. And I really wish I could see you all more often. And yes, there are two other foljufiens that have not been named yet… Samuel and Nicolas. Sam, since the beginning, you have been an amazing friend. As Ange, Margot and Eva, you always know what to say to put me back on track. I love you so much! Thanks for being there (and yes, one day we will finally go back on the field together!) and enjoy your new life <3. Nicolas, even if there is an ocean between us, you have also always been around. I love our long emails. You always have the proper words. Thank you, my friend, et bon matin.

During my bachelor, I ended up having one free semester. So I decided to take my chance abroad to (finally) learn (almost) proper english (I was so terrible before that…). Thanks to Clotilde who nicely recommended me few teams, I ended up in Austria, at the Lorentz Konrad Institute, in Vienna. I first want to thank Herbert and Matteo to welcoming me in their team. I learned a lot during my stay and had my very first scientific publication because of you. Thank you. Of course, I have a special thought for you, Matteo. Life has been incredibly unfair. But as Herbert said, you now live through the students you kindly supervised during your career. I also met one person who was particularly important during this internship: Valeria. Thanks for all the time spend together, the long talk, and the trips. Learning English with an Italian was a challenge, but I actually think you helped me learning much faster J Hopefully, we will meet again soon. Thanks for everything my friend.

And then, there was Norway… Norway… What can I say about this country, Tromsø, and the people I met there. Well, I know: I will be back!!! I completely fell in love with this amazing country and miss it every day. But beyond the country, there was the people. First, a huge huge hug for Tone. Working with you, both at the lab and on the field was amazing. You are a beautiful person and I feel really lucky that I got the change to spend this time with you. I am still grateful that we are actually still collaborating. So thank you, for everything, and the puffin. Kjell Einar, I also want to thank you for welcoming me in your team and in the field. And don’t worry, I am now learning Norwegian, so you can now switch from English to Norwegian as much as you want! I should be able to understand you. Thanks also to Manuel for the time spend together on the field and most importantly… for not laughing at me too much during fieldwork =)
Tromsø was also the opportunity to meet… French women (French are everywhere!). Loreleï! Thanks for supporting me since then. Even if we are terrible at giving news lately, you know how much I love you and grateful I am for everything you did for me. Coline, good luck with your new adventure. I knew you would make it! Sabrina, you have been an amazing b*** (people who know us both will know what I mean) friend and I am always happy when we manage to catch up. Good luck with everything. And of course, Marlène. Thanks for a great field season together and for being around since then. Take care my dear.

After I graduated, I started to work with Franck, and Corey, in Orsay. This contract has been professionally and personally amazing. Franck, thank you for believing in me and still supporting me. Working with you was full of challenges, but I learned so much. I am really grateful for everything you did (and still do) for me. Corey… Well, you are probably then only English Canadian I know able to use so many bad French words. Working with you was a privilege. Thank you for everything. Morgane, I am really glad we had the chance to work together. Thank you too, for everything, even for warning me about the wonderful world of Academia. As you can see, I did not listen to you J. Alice F., in bad and good, you have always been there. Thank you! Céline, Elsa… you are two amazing friends. I miss our coffee break every day and it still a pleasure being able to come back visiting sometimes. I miss you to very much. Luckily, we have our skype coffee break! François, Romain, thank you both very much for the long hours spend with the birds. I learned a lot with the both of you! Thank you also to Laurent, Yves, and François. You have been the best roommates I could have dreamed of during this period.

The last step of my studies: La Rochelle, le LIENSs, la mer. When I decided to do a PhD, I wanted to have THE PhD project, not just doing a PhD, for doing a PhD. And I found it: Arctic, seabirds, contaminants. This project had everything I was looking for and had this big advantage not be in Paris (Paris, the city that you can both hate and love at the same time). Of course, this project had his challenges, but I learned a lot about me, about science and I also met great people. First thing first: David, Antoine (oups, David is coming before Antoine, please don’t be jealous :p), Laura, JB, Ludi.  Thanks for the crazy time spend together. You are incredibly crazy and I love that very very much J Alice C., Sophie L. You arrived in the lab at the perfect timing. I am really glad we met. Thank you for all the support and the easy communication about absolutely everything during a really complicated period. The COVID did not get us! Alice L., thank you so much for… well, you know! Emeline, Ludivine, Auriane, Charlotte. Thanks for the many talks about unicorn. You are so crazy and so great J. Maud, Carine, on a personal aspect, thank you for our long hours of discussion. On a professional aspect, thank you for always having some place for me and my samples. Maud, Jérémy, thank you both very much for the long hours spend on the samples. I know the feathers are time consuming and can drive totally crazy. So double thank you for that. My PhD dataset would definitely not be what it is without you (of course, thank you for the previous interns I did not have the chance to meet but who also analyzed many samples). 

I have had the chance to do two field seasons during my thesis. The first one was in Greenland with Manon, Emile, Anders, Peter and Jérôme. Thank you all for this month spend together in such a particular area. Obviously, when writing these words, I have a special thought for Peter. I was looking very much forward meeting you again. But life is unfair and decided otherwise. Thank you very much for your grumpy but endearing personality. I feel privileged I had the chance to be with you for your last Greenlandic field season. The following year, I had the chance to go in Ny-Alesund, with Børge and Sveinn-Are. Thank you, guys, for welcoming me in your team. I had such a great time working with you. Hopefully, the adventure will continue next year. I also want to thank Wojtek (hello sunshine), Saga (hey sweaty) and Delphin (hey handsome). You gave to this fieldwork an amazing lovely touch that was more than welcome. I love you guys!  

I also had the chance to spend three months at the Norwegian Institute for Nature Research in Trondheim, in spring 2019. Børge, thanks you for welcoming me and the time you allocated on the project. Vegard, thanks a lot for the long hours spend on the tracking data. Your efficiency always amazed me. You are an amazing and kind person. It’s always a pleasure to talk and work with you. Diego, Aimee, Nina, hopefully I’ll see you all very soon. Take care guys. I really look forward to seeing you all very soon.

Eric, Amélia, Thomas, Elo, thank you all for the coffee breaks, lunch, dinner, drinks, cookies and chocolate shared all together. I am really glad I had the chance to meet you all.

I know, I know, there are still two people I did not thank. Patience my friends, patience.

Paco. My dear Paco. Even if you were not part of the direction of my thesis, thank you for always being around, answering my questions and ready for a drink when the sun is around. Grandma did it J!

Finally, the last, but not the least (I think J), Jérôme. I know how much you love when I play the violon, so I will keep it short. Thank you for believing in me. ARCTOX is your baby, but you trusted me to conduct this PhD project. Thank you also for supporting and advising me during a really complicated period. You did the best you could, ahead of everything else. Thank you for that. I learned a lot working with you! Long live to simple and easy human relationships (or something like that!) Take care grumpy bear!

Let’s illustrate the last 13 years with pictures. Thanks again, to all of you.

What’s about academia?

It has been many years now since I started to think about the reasons we are so fan (or crazy) about academia. What are we so passionate about? Why do we work so much to succeed? Why sometimes our personal life is totally mixed up to the professional one and even sometimes not our priority?

I love my job, I really do. I love working hours trying to write down ideas and improve texts. I love thinking about my data and how answering my scientific questions. I can see myself, so many times, stuck in my thought because of a script or a text. And when I am in what I call my « bubble », it’s really hard to get me out of it.  All successful researchers I met work hard, from teaching, to developing new projects, supervising, and so on. They work during evenings and week ends, even during holidays (if they take some!). But why? Why do we do that? What is academia so attractive?  Even though we know how complicated it is to get a permanent position, to get funding, why do we still continue to work as hell?

After many years thinking about it, and talking about that with co-workers, I finally started to get some answers.

First, in my own personal case, I want to do a job that I love! I believe this comes from by the fact that I know how you feel when you hate your job. When you do not want to get up in the morning to go working, and you just wait for the week-ends or the holidays. I now have a job I enjoy so much, that I work all the time. And when I can’t, I miss it. I even consider fieldwork as my holidays. Many people hate when I say that, because yes, fieldwork is a lot of work, but I do not see my job as a job anymore. It is a way of living. It is a passion and now that I found my happy place, I do not want to do anything else. It brings me good and bad times, but that’s also what life is! It struck me last summer, during fieldwork. Once again, I met amazing people, devoting a huge part of their life for their research and, surrounding by all of them… I felt home. I really did. And that’s a feeling I want to keep!

Second, a colleague once told me we are like artists. And I strongly believe he is right. We spend hours thinking about how to do our research in the best way as possible. We draw, write, map, and work to make things as clear as possible so that people can see what we see. Isn’ it kind of what an artist does too?

I have now the answer for my own case, and it took me some times but I am in peace with this way of living, with the bad and the good. But what about all the other PhDs student and researchers working as much as I do? If by any change you read this article and want to talk about it, make comments on this post. I am quite sure I am not the only one thinking about that.

Happy researcher life!


Never give up!

I did it! I found THE perfect PhD project I was looking for. For the next three years, I will be studying spatial ecotoxicology of arctic seabirds. I feel excited and lucky!!!

However, the point of this article is not to share my happiness with you, but to tell you to never give up in your search for a PhD position!

Lire la suite

I decided to become a researcher. Yes my dear. I will. Ok first, I need to find a PhD, but it is just a matter of time (and some other tiny important thing like a grant. Just a detail).

This part of the blog will be for friends and family ( just to be sure they know what I am really doing) but also for any student who wants to know more about the life of a « young » scientist. For curious people, you may have notice  the double quote. Well, for a french student, I am a little bit (hum hum) older than a « normal » student. Which make things way more interesting (hum hum hum). I’ll tell you more about the crazy decision I decided to take!
Anyway, I hope this blog will be funny, useful and help you to become as crazy as I am for research in ecology 😉

Be prepared, my first story will be.. how complicated it is to find a PhD in France… Yummy ^^ (work in progress!!!)