Most researchers would agree on saying that attending congresses and symposiums is one of the exciting parts of the PhD life. Being able to speak, discuss, exchange ideas, listen and learn from the different researchers and other professionals that come together in these reunions is a major opportunity to evolve, grow and apply the knowledge you gain on your research. However, when I started my PhD this last September I knew that this would hardly be my experience for the first months – or even the first year. COVID-19 is forbidding us from travelling and moving around, so attending congresses in person is difficult these days.
Luckily for us, we live in the 21st century, and although we cannot travel or meet in person during this pandemic, we have other channels to communicate and organise congresses. Digital platforms help us in this sense, and this is what we, at PersonalizeAF, did for the first meeting of the consortium. Universitat Politècnica de València (UPV) organised the Kick-Off meeting digitally on the 28th-29th of October, and they did a wonderful job! The goals of the fellowship were described, the different collaborations that are going to be developed were explained and we, the ESRs, were able to explain our projects. On the right, as an example, you can see a picture of me explaining how I plan to obtain new data that would help us validate MRI as a treatment-planning tool. Not only that, we could also discuss our secondments with our host institutions. We are all thrilled to work together for the next years!
Apart from the Kick-Off meeting, the ESRs are currently attending the Data mining and statistics workshop organised by UPV, where we are obtaining information of the clinical point of view of the treatment of atrial fibrillation and also gaining skills in statistics and image processing, among others. I can say that, although these are being intense days, I am learning many new concepts and gaining programming and analysis abilities that are highly enriching. I am looking forward to applying this knowledge in my research!
As you can imagine, although we are enjoying these weeks of meetings and workshops, and we are learning a lot, it is not the same than attending a course and a congress physically. We have been able to do some networking and teambuilding activities that we have enjoyed, but I think we would all have preferred to be together in Valencia to enjoy the weather and the food – as Alex is doing, according to his last post on the blog.
But it is what it is, and these are the times that we are living. Let’s take the positive things with us and be happy about the fact that we could meet and talk digitally, as well as learn and gain skills during this workshop. Hopefully, the situation will get better and we will meet in person in the future to improve our collaboration. Until then, let’s keep on researching and exchanging our thoughts digitally!
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