By Eilea Ruth Knotts
The summer has ended. School has started up again here at the University of South Carolina. And that means my international collaboration experience is over…right? I mean, I am no longer in Halifax, Nova Scotia at Dalhousie University. The experiments are over; the modeling is done. Didn’t I accomplish what the LOREX program wanted?
Let us start with the mindset of most graduate students in the United States. There are scientists all over the world working on their research just like we are in our graduate programs. You might think there are only a handful of people who could possibly help you in the world. You read papers about researchers doing similar work elsewhere but it’s not real. It’s just a paper. You won’t meet these individuals…okay, you may see them at an international conference. But otherwise, that is where the connection ends.
The LOREX program was a way to show students that connections can be made. Collaborations are possible! The world can become a smaller place where you can reach more researchers, research sites, and new ideas! I remember looking at the list of scientists provided by ALSO that worked at the University of Dalhousie and thinking, “Wow, there is someone here that is doing similar research. They could help my dissertation grow. I can get new skills and build my network.”
And I achieved that goal. I went to Dalhousie where I experienced major career development and built my network up. I made friends from across the globe and found possible post-doctorate opportunities. I realized that I could do more outside of the United States in the future.
And that was it. I left Dalhousie.
But that is not the end of the LOREX program. Just because you are no longer at the location does not mean you stop trying to work on international collaborations. LOREX gave us that push to take the first step and now it’s time for us to start walking on our own!
When I was at Dalhousie, I made a friend with a post-doc in Dr. Finkel’s lab. Her name was Dr. Vinitha Ebenezer and she originally came from India. She came up to me after I had given my dissertation talk to the lab and mentioned how she had a friend developing this lecture series in India. Vinitha thought I would be a great speaker for them and asked if she could give my contact information to her friend in India. I thought, “Sure, why not? It seemed like a great opportunity!”
Well, it came through. I gave an hour-long lecture to students at the Nadar Saraswathi College of Arts and Sciences in Thani on August 28th.
It was another step in the world of international collaboration. Who knows what connections I will make next? The LOREX program isn’t over. It was just the beginning step. I might be walking slow, but I am walking.