From the comfort of warm water to the freezing fjords of Denmark – collaborating in international waters as a PhD student

 

7
In the field in Denmark.

 

Author: Kristin Jinks

“I had no idea whether I was going to live up to the expectations of my collaborators, but it was too good an opportunity to let my doubts stop me,” explains Kristin Jinks.

Working in the environmental sciences has its perks. Including the opportunities to visit and work at locations around the world.

I studied undergraduate, honours, and then went on to do my PhD at the Australian Rivers Institute at Griffith University. So it was important for me to expand my network by collaborating with researchers from other universities.

I was fortunate enough to have an opportunity to assist some Danish colleagues from the University of Southern Denmark, who visited one of my supervisors Professor Rod Connolly in Australia. Having a Danish background provided me with common ground on which to make conversation.

The following year (2018) I presented my work on seagrass meadows at The International Seagrass Biology Workshop, Singapore.

You can watch my presentation here.

During this conference I spent more time networking with these Danish colleagues. I was then invited by Professor Mogens Flindt to come and train their lab on fish sampling in seagrass meadows in Denmark!

 

 

Of course, as many PhD students experience, the doubt sets in (aka imposter syndrome). Here I was, a PhD student, asked by a professor from a university on the other side of the world, to train his group on how to sample and analyse fish in seagrass meadows. I wasn’t an expert in the field by any means. Yet Professor Mogens Flindt acknowledged my experience and offered me an opportunity to impart that knowledge onto his lab group.

I was wrapped, but I was also worried about whether I could do this. I had no idea whether I was going to live up to the expectations of my collaborators. It was too good an opportunity to let my doubts stop me.

It turned out to be the most wonderful experience. I worked with a new lab group on the other side of the world, a place close to my heart.

 

 

I proved to myself that I was very capable of putting forward solid scientific ideas and training another team. I ran a full research project in a mere two weeks. We produced real workable results that the team could continue on in my absence.

 

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And I fell in love with the beautiful pipefish found in Danish seagrass meadows…

 

My advice for other PhD students is three-fold:

  1. Ignore your feelings of imposter syndrome. It’s likely you know more than you think, you just haven’t had an opportunity to show it;

  2. If your supervisor, or someone you know, has an international visitor (or any visitor of interest to you), make the effort to meet that person and discuss your work. You never know what it could lead to;

  3. When meeting a potential collaborator, do your research, know their work, and try to find some common ground to make the networking process a little easier.

My collaboration with this lab group is ongoing and we will be publishing the work once long-term sampling is complete. The cold water wasn’t so bad after all!

I am now working with the GLOW team on coastal wetland conservation, based on the Gold Coast out of the Australian Rivers Institute at Griffith University.

Twitter: @KristinJinks

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Seagrass meadows in Denmark.

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