Foto: Dhaya Eddine-Bentaleb at Unsplash

What it is like to be Early Stage Researcher during the Covid-19-situation

Ten ESRs in Edulia are doing their work away from their home countries, and some of them were on secondment in a third country when the virus hit.

Contact person
Portrettbilde av Paula Varela-Tomasco
Paula Varela-Tomasco

Senior Scientist
Phone: +47 454 26 026
paula.varela.tomasco@nofima.no

We have asked them how the Covid-19 situation has affected them. Here are their experiences and thoughts.

Edulia, which is led by Nofima-scientist Paula Varela-Tomasco, is a European training network. The network will address the question of how to balance food pleasure and nutritional needs for children in a changing society.

“The effect of Covid-19 in a European training network like Edulia has been indeed large; projects like this are meant to maximise mobility and networking; however, our PhD candidates could not attend any conference during 2020 or fully utilise the opportunities of multidisciplinary mobility in the network, what makes me really sad as project leader”, says Paula Varela-Tomasco

More online data collection

First, we asked if their progresses are delayed due to the virus situation. The answers varied, some were delayed, mainly because of delay in the data collection, especially for those who are supposed to collect data in real life situations. Others have been able to adjust their data collection. However, some are concerned about the impact of the results since online research are less ideal than real life studies.

In addition to use online data collection instead, some ESRs have reduced their secondments and postponed face-to-face interaction to avoid delays.

Uncertainty is challenging

The constant uncertainty. The need of always have a plan B, and never being sure if what is planned will be possible. It was also hard not being able to meet people face-to-face, being abroad and quite a lot alone, away from family and friends.

Missing out of the chance of present, meet other scientists and build networks at conferences is hard as well.  So is the overwhelming feeling that everything that has been delayed have to happen in the final year.

Isolation is hard

Isolation are stressing for most, and so are not being able to attend any sporting or outdoors activities. Anxiousness and loneliness become normal and feeling guilty for not manage to be as efficient and productive as wanted.

However, talking to someone every day, join webinar and get involved helped to cope with the situation.

Good advices from the ESRs

It is a new situation for everybody. Try to keep positive and do things you really like to do. Adapt quickly and accept that things will be changed, and that you have to change your plans. Do the best you can and not be too hard with yourself. Instead, remind yourself that it is normal to have days when you struggle to feel productive.

Physical activity, good nutrition and taking care of yourself, practice or find a hobby. Talk with your family and friends – and do not be afraid to ask for help.

“All crises are also opportunities, and our early stage researchers have used the chance to research how the pandemic has impacted eating habits, and also created multi-language dissemination materials about healthy eating during the pandemic, to help families in the different countries. This makes me really proud of our young researchers”, says Paula Varela-Tomasco.

 Innovation, consumer and sensory sciences  

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