“My PhD experience with MonoGutHealth: challenges, lessons learned, reflections and opportunities ahead”


ESR4- PhD journey with MGH

In May 2021, I arrived in Bydgoszcz to begin my PhD studies. Settling into a new city that I would call home for this time was initially challenging due to the unfamiliarity of the language, culture and weather. However, the welcome and support I received from my supervisor, colleagues, fellow PhD students, Gambian and Senegalese friends I met here made me quickly settle in and feel at home.

As is the experience of many PhD students, the beginning was full of excitement and ambition to achieve great success. In reality, it was never easy to reach such heights, as the journey is filled with sacrifices, constant pressure, many setbacks, failures and frustrations along the way. From the beginning, I always thought about giving up due to unforeseen circumstances, but when I think about where I started, where I came from and where I am now, it gives me the strength and zeal to continue. Thanks to this, I now believe what Thomas A Edison said, and I quote, “Our greatest weakness is to give up. The surest way to success is to try again and again. To this point I realise that no matter how many times you fail, feel rejected or isolated, always believe in yourself, keep trying and keep going. Don’t get me wrong, I have had tremendous support and encouragement from my family, especially my wife, my lab mates, my supervisors and my fellow ESRs during this time.

Despite all the pitfalls, hurdles and obstacles along the rough road, the perseverance, resilience, determination and motivation of my supervisors, family and friends served as a great strength to not give up.

At the University of Science and Technology in Bydgoszcz (PBS), I was exposed to state-of-the-art scientific laboratories where I gained skills in molecular biology, microbiology, designing and conducting experiments, data analysis, writing manuscripts and presenting these results at the MonoGutHealth project meetings and other conferences. From these trainings, I have gained invaluable experience that will have a lifelong and everlasting impact on my professional growth and career development.

As one of the Early Stage Researchers (ESRs) in the MonoGutHealth project, I have been fortunate to have such an incredible experience and to have had 3-month and 1-month secondments at Vetdianostica, Drobex-Agro and the Research Institute for Farm Animal Biology (FBN), where I have acquired new research skills and also broadened my professional network.

Another exciting and unforgettable experience was travelling with my fellow ESRs to the MonoGutHealth training schools. During these times, we had an impressive bond and relationship, which I believe will be fruitful for our professional growth and development, and therefore I look forward to future collaborations.

In addition to the research and professional experience gained in the Monoguthealth project and at PBS, I have enjoyed spending time with my family on the Brda River and in the Old Town, exploring Polish cuisine. Bydgoszcz as a city will always have a special place in my heart as our little princess was born here. Learning and understanding the language is essential for successful integration into any society. Although learning Polish was and still a challenge, I have managed to learn many phrases and sentences used in everyday conversation, such as “Dzień dobry, dziękuję, proszę, nie ma ca zo, preszpraszam, do widzenia, do zobaczenia just to name a few. I am still improving and refining my Polish language skills.

Looking ahead and reflecting on the achievements and successes I have had along the way, the possibility of realising my dreams seems possible and this always reminds me of a quote from my molecular biology professor during my undergraduate studies, “Never say never”. To this day, I live by that statement. In short, as time goes by, the end of a momentous journey filled with uncertainties is getting closer, but I always stay positive and prepare myself for new challenges and opportunities that come knocking.