A fruitful experience in a foreign laboratory


ESR 3 Secondment blog

One of the reasons why I love my project is that I receive great opportunities to experience new work environments. As a part of my research and training, I got the opportunity to work at Teagasc Food Research Center in Ireland for four months.

Academically, the experience was very enriching. I got to learn new techniques and skills in microbiology and pathogenic culture. It was my first ever experience in a Bio Safety Level 2 laboratory. Going to a new laboratory for a short period to perform one of the crucial experiments in your PhD can make you anxious. However, Teagasc was an unbelievably healthy work environment with very experienced researchers and talented PhD students who would not hesitate to help you at any time. It is impossible not to progress naturally in such a work environment. My supervisor, Dr. Rita Hickey at Teagasc and my colleagues supported me to familiarize myself with the work there and organize my research. It was amazing to see how different labs carry out similar tasks differently. These differences inspired me to think out of the box whenever I have got a task to do. Eventually, I carried out a lot of experiments within this short time and obtained very good results for my PhD project.

Gaining laboratory training in the new environment

The best thing I enjoyed in this secondment is collaborative work. We had a very nicely organized process and schedules to work on equipment and laboratories. Every time I got some results in my microbial assays, I discussed them with colleagues to get their opinions. I found it an excellent strategy to improve one’s skills in reasoning and experiment design as putting heads together outweighs single efforts. It was also a great opportunity to get some idea about how the industrial sector works because we had several expert researchers from the industry collaborating with our labs. Overall, it was a lifetime opportunity to network with peers in the same field.

Aside from academic and professional benefits, meeting such an international and energetic young crowd was an extreme pleasure. I got the privilege to join the social committee of the PhD students and participate in some social events as well. Going to work was always interesting also because of this social aspect. Not only colleagues from Teagasc but also Irish people, in general, were extremely nice and friendly. As I travelled with my family, in the beginning, we faced a lot of difficulties in settling in the new city. However, I met very nice people who helped our family to settle, which allowed me to successfully carry out my research.

Social events, networking and good bye wishes

 Saying goodbye was the hardest part of this secondment. The last day was full of tears. However, I am lucky that I got to know such a nice workplace and learnt something from almost everyone. I hope one day we will cross paths again!
Coming back to my Polish university, I put the hands-on experience and organizational skills gained from Teagasc into practice. I believe exposure to new laboratories is a revitalizing force for one’s scientific career. I look forward to other exciting challenges to come.