ESR14: Episode One

A month after our first joyful and fruitful SENTINEL workshop in fantastic Paris, it was time to begin my PhD ‎as the last SENTINEL ESR – but I started during a global shutdown.‎

A week after my arrival, all flights in the Netherlands were cancelled and the Dutch Embassy closed. I had the opportunity to visit the lab for just ten days.  After that, my colleagues and I all had to go into ‎quarantine and I found myself in lockdown in a new country that I knew very little about. No friends, no relations, no in-person communication, and no experiments. It was just me and online papers in a small room with a ‎view of trees dancing smoothly in the last month of winter. ‎

Imprisoned in my cell, I was not unproductive because, as I realised later, this was an excellent position from where I could ‎take stock of my research, and also my life, with a clearer perspective. I used to be stuck in the flows of ‎my mind map and now I was above it, able to see every flow and word and relation. I used to ‎do experiments from morning to midnight which restricted my mental abilities and ‎sometimes killed my creativity. This was an incredible time for planning and designing. Cool. I was alone, far from my beloved ‎wife, far from the lab but designing research in my mind and lovely life in my heart.‎

‎Now I am back in the lab and I find I can agree that maybe when I hate something it is actually useful for me. Yes, I hated the isolation but it inspired me. ‎

Mohammad Saghafi

Find out more about Mohammad Saghafi.