On October 16th, I arrived in Ireland for the first network-wide training at Trinity College Dublin. It was the first time that professionals from several research institutes involved in this network would be gathered in the same place to address the multidisciplinary challenges of materials cycles. In the evening of that same day, other PhD students and I were gently invited by Professor Balz Kamber to a small reunion at local pub. It was a joyful opportunity to finally meet the network coordinator and also know better my new network colleagues.
The two weeks network-training took place in the Geology department houses of Trinity College Dublin. These houses are home to bicentenary collections of both minerals and fossils. The feeling you get inside the walls of the Museum Building is so intense that many visitors have a hard time to understand the building is actually a functioning organ of the Geology research department and not just a tourist site.
The first day started at the Paleontology Lab where Professor Balz Kamber provided an enlightening introduction about the MetalInteligence network. He presented valuable information about the Trinity College, the iCrag, the three pillars of Horizon 2020 and also the expected impact of this Innovative Training Network. Dr. Juan Diego Rodriguez-Blanco came next with an eye-opening talk about good research methodology. Ashling Hayes closed the day with some tips about publishing, promoting and keeping your work relevant and easy to find. Many handful advices were distributed to PhD students that are right now at the beginning of their career.
The second day of the training was held at iCrag (Irish Center For Research in Applied Sciences) at Panoz Institute building. Paul Guyett after recalling the basics of Scanning Electron Microscopy (SEM), managed some experiments in order for us to apply the theory. Back at the Paleontology lab, Dr. Susan Murphy offered a lecture about the importance of gender inclusion in research planning followed by Dr. Damaris Fernandez who gave a nice talk about the activities within the European Institute of Technology Raw Materials.
On the third day, Professor Balz Kamber gathered us to talk about the history behind Electron Microscopy and the vast advantages provided by LA-ICP-MS. After lunch, we were divided in two groups and sent to the laboratory where Gary O’Sullivan (Trinity) helped us to put this knowledge into practice with a determined sample.
When we returned to the fourth day, Maurice Brodbeck (Trinity) gave a brief introduction about data reduction and kindly assisted us with the installation and some tips about the program. We could then make the comparison between the data of different groups.
On the fifth day, Dr. Christina Wanhainen (Luleå University), Iris Wunderlich (Boliden) and Dr. Una Farrell (Trinity) joined Professor Balz sharing their experiences as researchers. In that afternoon we started working on the development of our own career plan. Hearing the joys and challenges of professional researchers certainly gave us some orientation to think about our own research plans.
On the sixth day, we returned to iCrag where Matt Hiscock (Oxford Instruments) made some review of the basic principles of Energy Dispersive Spectroscopy. At the end, we were able to apply the knowledge and technique acquired with some hands-on experience. At the end of the day we grouped again in the same pub and spent a wonderful night with my colleague Matias Hultgren (Outotec) and Jukka Raatikainen (IMA) and his amazing stories about mining and war.
Wednesday was the last day of the training and I was already missing everyone. Matt Hiscock (Oxford Instruments) gave an interesting lecture about the importance of SEM-EDX classifications to mineral investigations. When the lecture was over, all professionals from participating institutes and industry partners went to the Loos bar at the senior common room of Trinity. Professor Balz gave an enjoyable speech about the need to train a new generation of creative researchers whose ideas will be turned into something beneficial to society. There was a hidden piano in another room and I managed to play a bit without getting caught. After the party we went to a fantastic Italian restaurant called “Dunne and Crescenzi” to end this amazing two weeks with a superb meal.
It was an extraordinary experience. Thanks to Professor Balz and all the lecturers for all the contributions we could take with us to our own research institutes. Special thanks to Dr. Una Farrell that worked hard during those days to assure that our stay in Dublin would be unforgettable.
Photos by Juan Diego Rodriguez-Blanco and Una Farrell.