Oh, finally! Finally, after such a long time: a research visit!
I’m spending two very short days in Amiens, visiting the lab of friend and SoilTemp co-founder Jonathan Lenoir, and meeting up with two other partners in SoilTemp-crime while there. The main goal: real-life science discussions! No Teams, no Zoom, no Skype, just sitting in a room – at a safe distance from each other – and let the minds roam free.
I truly felt this was necessary to spark some fires, focus some thoughts, and solidify some research directions; things that are a lot harder to achieve in virtual meetings or over emails. I really wanted to get some priorities straight, as in my enthusiasm for the sciences it’s often tricky to see what should be done first and – perhaps more importantly – convince the funders of those priorities.
And just the mere fact of being here has already made a massive difference: we established the backbone for my next research proposal, one that should keep me on the rails for again a little bit longer, and one that should – if the Gods of Money are Generous – allow us to turn our plans into reality.
We also had some great meandering discussions on the scientific topics of interest, those kind of creative jumps and bousts of inspiration that are so much easier to realize over a shared cup of tea than when staring at each others’ pixelated face over crappy webcams.
While staring up at Amiens cathedral, I realized: I am not that ambitious that I need to build such a stony monster for myself, but I do strongly feel that our world needs a ‘cathedral of science’ to tackle the ongoing climate and biodiversity crisis, and that we need it fast. And I think I have a few more crucial bricks that I could contribute to the pile, and would love to get that chance!
I feel inspired by your delight in real meetings in real places. I love your idea about ‘cathedrals’ of science. Hope all goes well with your research and funding.