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1st International Mass Spectrometry School 2013 in Italy

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Topic: Science  |  Series: My Journey to PhD
Professor's Eberlin twin on a photograph in one of the pubs in Siena :-)Back from Italy to the reality of mornings foggy Amsterdam... This time maybe a bit untraditional piece of text about the 1st IMSS that was held in Siena from 15th to 20th September. The school was organized by the International Mass Spectrometry Foundation and the Italian Chemical Society.

There are always two good reasons why to attend conferences, why to participate on seminars, workshops and summer schools: learning & networking. Let me mention both of those in more detail and correlate them with my attendance to the 1st International Mass Spectrometry School in Siena.

One evening on one of my first conferences, I intended to sneak out to bed relatively early after the dinner – I felt tired and wanted to be fresh for the next set of lectures on the following day. Half my way I was stopped by a couple of colleagues of my boss: "Where are you going?" They were obviously taken by surprise with my explanation: "Don’t you know, that talking to other scientists during the 'after dinner gathering' is often more useful than a patient listening to the lectures during the day?" It was my turn to be surprised by this revelation. Anyway, I stayed with them merrily discussing science from all different perspectives until 3 am. I was tired at the lectures on the following day… But! I created first friendly contacts within my scientific network. And that was more valuable then being perfectly fresh on the lectures. From the time of that conference, networking became an important part of my attendances to any scientific occasions. And IMSS was no exception!

From the very beginning I knew participation on an international summer school will be a great opportunity to meet new people in and also beyond my research field. During the week in Italy I have talked to many students, scientists and sincerely enjoyed discussing our research areas but also the science as such. It is always invigorating to hear how people work in other scientific fields or how they actually feel about being a scientist. I have met many nice people. Some of them became a part of my professional network, others found a way deep into my heart and became friends forever.

Seeing the lecturers talking to students during the day and especially during the informal evenings makes one think about them in a different way. Out of a sudden, they are not unreachable semi-gods. They are simply approachable people, who had also once been students themselves. (Special thanks belong here to professor Shiea, who once more convinced me that making mistakes in the lab is just an usual part of one’s scientific life. :o)

Albeit, the summer school was not only about the knowing new people and their attitudes, as it may seem from my writing so far. The learning part was its natural component. During my scientific life I have realized the more I learn, the more intensively I feel, how little I actually know. I will never know enough about mass spectrometry. (Actually about anything else…) I enjoyed the lecture on history of mass spec – one has out of sudden a feeling of belonging to a really meaningful group with a rich history. I was glad to refresh some basic knowledge about mass spec which enabled me to focus on more detailed information in all the different topics. Only one thing hindered sometimes my focus – the length of the lectures. I felt sometimes difficult to pay attention for the full two hours, which some of the lessons took. However, in the end I picked up useful information from almost all of the lectures.

I am also grateful for the opportunity to present shortly my research projects. I always enjoy talking about my work and I really fancied the chance to share our science with the other participants. Practicing the talking on public is also a bit of adrenalin, which I can only enjoy.

To wrap this up briefly – I will definitely not forget this "first time" which brought me into touch with other scientists from all over the world, and which added yet another portion of information to my head-tank, which can, unfortunately, never grasp all the knowledge.

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