n the anniversary of the REWATERGY-EID project, we look back at 07 moments from the initial 12 months of the project, a personal testimony of an early stage researcher (ESR). REWATERGY is an industrial-academic partnership within the water-energy nexus, a Marie Curie Industrial Doctorate training network. The project is funded by the European Commission within Horizon 2020.
The REWATERGY project partners three universities and three companies across Europe. The universities are the University of Cambridge, United Kingdom; Universidad Rey Juan Carlos, Spain; and Ulster University, Belfast Ireland. The industries include Delft IMP, Netherlands; ProPhotonix, Cork Ireland and FCC Aqualia, Spain.
REWATERGY provides ESRs a unique opportunity to conduct their research in an academic and industrial environment. Therefore, ESRs acquire wider exposure to the practical application of their research.
1. The start of a new journey
We started a new journey with excitement, curiosity, and determination. REWATERGY brought together eight ESRs from seven different countries of the World. The ESRs came from Brazil, India, Italy, Ireland, Jordan, Pakistan and Spain. The ESRs bring with them diverse experiences and add diverse perspectives to the project.
Low number of women in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) subjects and industrial doctoral training programs is a common subject of discussion and concern since decades. In the REWATERGY project, four among the eight ESRs are women. The equal participation of women in the project is notable and encourages the participation of women in science.
2. The first meeting with ESRs
Here arrived the most exciting part, the meetup in a beautiful venue. The University of Cambridge hosted the meeting, attended by all members and the ESRs. It provided a chance to share ideas, plans, socialize, discuss, and know each other. Secondly, attendees gave presentations on their research background, role in the project and research plans. REWATERGY project focuses on two important fields of research; water and energy.
After the meeting, we spent a valuable day and spared few worthy hours exploring the Cambridge. The enchanting beauty and academic atmosphere of Cambridge was visible to the eyes, as well as the diversity among the University of Cambridge community.
3. Enrollment in a Ph.D. program
The value of the project exceeds its many benefactions as it provides ESRs the chance to fulfill their dreams to further their studies. As an industrial-academic partnership program, REWATERGY provides us the opportunity to work in academia and the industry. In the first month, we all enrolled in a Ph.D. program in our respective partner institutions.
4. Three days’ workshop in Belfast, Ireland
Our first workshop in Belfast proved memorable, learning, and spending more days together. We attended live demonstrations of laboratory techniques in the laboratory facilities of Ulster University, Belfast.
At Ulster University, we met researchers and research groups working on related research domains. We started expanding our research network.
In Belfast, we were welcomed by the crowded Christmas market. During the three days, we visited various exciting parts of the city and tasted some local Irish food.
5. New friends, a new language, and new places
By a few weeks, we become friends. The REWATERGY project encouraged and supported the integration of ESRs in a new environment and culture. ESRs placed in countries speaking languages other than English availed an opportunity to take up language courses. This is a moment of personal growth along with the study and research. We are learning and developing an understanding of the countries, the work environment, the culture, and the language.
6. Socially distant but remotely connected
By the mid of the first year, the Covid-19 Pandemic spread to countries across the Europe. REWATERGY senior project members encouraged the ESRs to observe the restrictions imposed on mobility. We stayed home during the lockdowns as per each country´s law while remaining remotely connected.
Learning continued during the Covid-19 pandemic in a new work environment. REWATERGY adopted the new remote working route and observed social distancing.
In the first research progress, all partners, ESRs, and the project manager connected online. The research progress meeting was successfully conducted. We presented our individual research progress and attended the discussions. The research progress remained highly fruitful and provided new ways forward.
By the fifth and sixth month in some cases, still keeping with the social distancing and precautionary measures, gradually we resumed our laboratory activities. Together we remained resilient in the face of the Pandemic.
During the prolonged travel restrictions and in continuation with the remote work environment, REWATERGY successfully conducted over eight online training. Each training, delivered by an expert in the field, expanded our knowledge and horizon.
7. Looking at the future with renewed hopes together!
As we enter the second year of the REWATERGY project, we move on with higher and renewed hopes for a smooth transition back to normality. We realize more than ever the potential of scientific research and innovation in sustainable development and in building resilient societies.
Now our aims are not only to achieve the project objectives, expand our scientific skills or, grow professionally, but also to contribute to some of the pressing needs of our society through research and innovation.