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How to move a research lab across the whole country and don’t go mad? From Amsterdam to Maastricht – from AMOLF to M4I

šipka - arrow Back to the articlesAdded Thu February 5, 2015, 08:08  |  Number of views of the article 11024x  |  Comments Comments (2x)
Topic: Science  |  Series: My Journey to PhD
Empty lab at AMOLFOne dark wintery afternoon my office mate announced me she would be moving to Delft. And that she would be doing so for her supervisor decided to relocate the whole research from Amsterdam to the university in Delft. "That sucks!" was the first that came to my mind and found its way out on my lips, too. I would not want to move to another city for a reason like that during my PhD… CUT.

Sunny spring afternoon. I am sitting in AMOLF’s library with the rest of the BIMS group waiting for the kick-off of our weekly group meeting. Our boss begins with an important announcement:

"I have accepted a position of a director of a new imaging institute..."

A dramatic pause. (You know like that one you know from movies.)

"In Maastricht."


What the heck is he talking about?

"Do you have any questions?"

Hell yea! "Does that mean we all have to move to Maastricht?" I hear myself saying as if from a distance.

My brain, overwhelmed with too many emotions, just can’t take Ron’s answer: "Yes!" sounds through the room and echoes in my ears.

"Well, what would you prefer to do now? We can skip the scheduled group meeting programme to talk about this now. Or you’d rather go to your office and cry?" asks he smiling.

Oh yes, please, going to my office and cry ain't a bad idea at all! There is a Devil and an Angel sitting on each of my shoulders, both screaming. While Angel goes: Maastricht? Great! Riding in the hills! The Devil sounds more like: Moving out of Amsterdam? No way! Not yet! Not now!

This happened in May 2014. Since then me and the rest of the imaging mass spectrometry group at AMOLF went through different stages. I can’t talk for my colleagues, but I went through what I call a modified cascade of the dealing-with-grief:

1. Anger (Up to until a few hours after the meeting.) 
2. Denial (Practically for the rest of that Spring and the whole Summer.)  
3. Bargaining (Significant portion of Autumn.) 
4. Depression (On and off since the announcement… until now.) 
5. Acceptance (Not sure when that happened… or if. But hell, here we are in Maastricht so I must have accepted it at some point.)

Yeh, you have read that just right: after many months of uncertainty about the moving date, all happened very quickly in January. In December most of us were busy with finding new places to live down in the South of the Lowlands. And at the beginning of 2015 we relocated the whole mass spectrometry lab as well as our homes from Amsterdam to Maastricht.

The move means different things to different people. And each of us is coping with it differently. I try to think about it as a big life lesson. (You understand one doesn’t get to moving a research lab over the whole country very often.) There is a lot of "firsts" in here for me, which is never bad but very often not quite comfortable. I am not excited about a whole lotta uncertainties that the situation necessarily brings. Especially those that I can’t control myself.

But I can see the silver linings of the life and work in Maastricht. What accounts life, I can’t wait to take my bike on long rides in the undulating landscape in the lands of the famous spring classicsAmstel Gold Race is ridden literary around the corner, climbing up to Cauberg will soon be a weekly reality. Truly, if you like cycling, Limburg is the province to be in the Netherlands.

As for work, that will gradually bring new challenges and opportunities, too. The new institute – M4I: Maastricht MultiModal Molecular Imaging Institute – is an ambitious project that wants to unite and become the center of the European molecular imaging. More clinical research, more collaborations, new projects… just a few things that we can be looking forward to. At first, however, there is some practical work to be done: set the new labs, unpack things, get the instrument going. Unfortunately I cannot come up with an advice stated in the name of this post… Sometimes I have the feeling I must have gone mad. Completely.

Oh, and AMOLF? That institute was actually founded in the 1940’ as a research center for mass spectroscopy. Scientists were examining isotopes of uranium through a new fancy technique. AMOLF celebrated 60 years of existence last Autumn. And after 60 years it also means end of mass spectrometry at AMOLF, which will now focus even more on nano-optics research and development of solar cells.

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Avatar Kája
November 3, 2015, 11:26 (No. 140)Kája

Milá Katko. Mrzí mě, že Tvůj příspěvek zůstal doposud bez povšimnutí. Nějaké materiály se jistě najdou. Pokud o ně máš ještě zájem, kontaktuj mě, prosím na e-mailové adrese. info[at]karolinas.net

Avatar Katka
May 3, 2015, 13:47 (No. 138)Katka

Ahoj Kájo, díky za tvoje stránky. Prosím tě, připravuju se na RIGO z Farm. analýzy a chtěla jsem se zeptat, jestli nemáš vypracované nějaké otázky... Díky za odpověď. Katka Š.

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