Anca’s blog

Anca's KU Leuven BicycleIt has been more than a year since I joined Simon Kuhn’s group as a Ph.D. student at KU Leuven and became part of the Photo4Future (P4F) ITN. This year was an interesting ride for me which has started when I moved to Leuven, Belgium. Leuven is a beautiful historic city and I could describe it as being big enough to find everything I need and small enough to bump into my friends during a walk in the evening. In the beginning, I had the impression that all the inhabitants study or work for KU Leuven. Firstly, because I could recognize its logo on the bikes, cars and buildings all around the city. Secondly, because the city has a break from the lively nights during weekends and holidays just like its students.

Meeting whiteboardWe are eight people in the Transport Phenomena and Multiphase Systems team (which is included in the larger ProcESS group) and only recently I have managed to visualize how our topics relate to each other. This was not straightforward for me as the leitmotifs of our regular meetings belong to different research fields e.g. mesh, Green’s function, slug, cohesion force, LED. Happily, Simon let me digest the start at my own pace, giving me a push only when I got stuck in the details. In addition to being ”experts” in our topics, the members of our group enjoy spending  time in “meaningful” discussions such as finding a solution to avoid opening the window when it is cold outside (see the second point on our office whiteboard).

My daily routine at KU Leuven is generally broken every six months to participate at the schools organized within the P4F project. In addition, this spring I had the opportunity to do my first secondment in the group of Dorota Koziej (Laboratory for Multifunctional Materials) at ETH Zürich. The purpose of my stay was to investigate the temperature profile for the designed LED light source during its operation using a thermal imaging camera.

Plastic cow near ZürichseeAs expected, the first place I went to see in Zürich was Zürichsee, the lake with white Alpine peaks at the horizon. The promenade near the lake and along the river (Limmat) together with the narrow streets of the old town make a charming route to wander around. I was also surprised by the multitude of cows in and outside of Zürich: real cows, metal cows, green plastic cows and, of course, the well-known purple cows. My enthusiasm had started being mixed with despair when I observed that my set-up was not operating within the expected parameters. Fortunately, people from Dorota’s team and from KU Leuven (to which I remain grateful) helped me to understand and solve the problem so I could carry out, if not all, most of the planned experiments. Meanwhile, I had the chance to participate in a meeting of the journal club, where usually the master and Ph.D. students supervised by Dorota choose, present and discuss a scientific article. This was a new concept for me and I have seen it as a good exercise for critically evaluating published research.

I am thankful to Dorota for hosting me as I returned to Leuven with a better understanding of the thermal behaviour of my LED light source and more confidence to deal with
dicted difficulties which might appear during my next secondment.