When you started your PhD through the Marie Curie initiative, what were your expectations?
At that time, I wanted to get a PhD in order to access a teaching position at a reputable university in Lebanon, my country of origin; I expected to have a more or less monotonous three-year experience as this is what I had heard about PhDs. I was very wrong, the mobility of the Marie Curie programme made it lots of fun and allowed me to refine my project by getting the input of so many different experts in the field from all around Europe. Also, this programme not only targeted the development of research skills, but also development of the whole person (communication skills, career plan, personality...).
When you started your placement, did you imagine that you'd be where you are today 4 years later?
Absolutely not, it is a dream come true. Four years later I am in a tenure-track position coordinating a nutrition programme and dietetic internship on two campuses and a hospital. In addition, I am still able to carry out research activities and I am collaborating with the lab that hosted my PhD. This is truly above the expectations that I had when I started the programme!
If you had to choose the most memorable moment during your PhD, what would it be?
It would be the first time I gave a talk at a conference (SSIB in Paris). It was really a great moment. I was nervous about questions at first but then I realised that people were asking questions to know about my work and not to test me. Sharing your own work at a conference and exchanging ideas for improvement is really enriching.
Three words that sum up your Marie Curie Actions experience?
Turning-point, enriching, network.
How do you see yourself in 10 years?
Hopefully, I will be an Associate Professor applying for the Professor rank at the Lebanese American University and planning to take a sabbatical year to do research abroad, probably with the people I met during my PhD!
Is there a famous researcher who inspires you?
Definitely Charles Darwin. The theory of evolution is so versatile and can be used in almost any field, including mine.
What is your favorite quote by a scientist?
"The heart has its reasons which reason knows not" - Blaise Pascal
Your advice to a researcher who would like to apply for a Marie Curie Action?
Enjoy the mobility! It may be a bit of a burden at first but it is the most enriching experience. You get to meet researchers and build a network, it might be the only time that you have such an opportunity in your career.
Imagine your ideal Marie Curie Alumni Association event. What would it be? Where?
Any event that encourages interaction between scientists/researchers from different fields. Something with discussions and workshops, not lectures. Somewhere with nice weather and nice food.
If you could introduce to us another Marie Curie Alumni, who would it be?
Jessica Schwartz: she was in the same programme as me (NuSISCO) and is really passionate about her research. Also, she encouraged me to give a TED talk last year at the final FP6 conference which was an amazing experience.