Funding and travel for PhD students?
Last May I visited the Centre de Recerca Matemàtica (CRM), a research institute located on the campus of the Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona, Spain. I am a PhD candidate at the University of Limerick, Ireland and this international trip was my second visit to the CRM to work with my PhD co-supervisor Prof Tim Myers. In this blog post, I will discuss international travel from the perspective of a PhD student.
Firstly, travel needs to be paid for, and to secure funding one needs to be proactive. I have submitted four grant applications as a PhD student; luckily for me, three of these applications were successful. The Mathematics for Industry Network funded my first visit to the CRM (Grant No: ECOST-STSM-TD1409-290216-071429). The Irish Research Council funded my second and most recent trip to the CRM (Grant No: GOIPG-2014-887). And, the Society for Industrial and Applied Mathematics (SIAM) along with the Irish Research Council will be funding my upcoming trip to the 2017 SIAM Annual Meeting in Pittsburgh. None of these trips would have been possible if I wasn’t proactive in my pursuit of funding.
Writing grant proposals is important for an academic; but, research trips can also be a source of other professional development. I got the chance to observe two different working environments. I have seen first hand how many different people work and interact, and all in the context of two distinct cultures. This experience has given me a much clearer vision of my own professional identity; I have a better idea of what I respond well to, and I have been able to translate this knowledge into more productive research output. Furthermore, I have a clearer picture of what I want kind of environment I will work in after I get my PhD.
From a more personal point of view, I was able to experience the fantastic city of Barcelona for two extended periods of time thanks to these research trips. The city seems to have an inexhaustible supply of museums, tapas bars, and historical monuments; not to mention the various hikes in the surrounding hills–some of the sights are absolutely breathtaking. If I could offer some advice to a prospective tourist it would be that the locals are extremely forgiving of broken Spanish spoken in a funny accent; however, if you can manage a few words of broken Catalan they will move mountains for you!
By Gary O’Keeffe