The start of Seeds & Leaves
A few years ago I told myself that this is how things go in life: some things work out, others do not. There will always be other options and new ways. There is not one profession, not one job or one goal. You should adapt and be open to what life offers you. So, after a successful PhD period and a few postdoc experiences in combination with having three children in two years (I was blessed with twins), at 32 years I gradually moved out of doing research. The truth is that I did not manage to get a grant awarded to account for my own salary. Also, I am not that genius and I was not the top of my class. Just as I expected, other beautiful options came my way: new organisations to discover, nice colleagues to meet, interesting new things to learn, new skills to develop. In a way it felt like I ended up in a different world. Working conditions were totally different than in academia: I had a supervisor who was trained in people management, colleagues were people you work together with, with whom you can share ideas freely without being afraid to be scooped… The new job of course had issues of its own and was not all that perfect, but it was good to be out of the primary research cocon. But not to far away from the research context, because I just love to be around science and scientists.
When I occasionally asked myself if I missed doing research, I thought: no, I took a different path, which is beautiful and interesting in its own right. Besides this, in our time, a scientific career is a very tightly planned and CV oriented career path. I fell off the line and there was no way I was ever going to be involved in research myself again.
In April 2017 I read the column of Rosanne Hertzberger: "Wetenschap moet bevrijd". In my view she was one of those very special, exceptional intelligent, hardworking researchers, who made it. She managed to obtain a postdoc position in the US, right after her PhD (while writing weekly columns and having a child) and she would probably manage it all. In her column she did, in my view, an honest report of her sobering experience in science, her struggles and eventually she launched a new approach: Open Kitchen Science. In a way this term and the idea behind it just struck me. Looking back I don't understand it, it is so obvious, and probably many other people and events have influenced me unconsciously, but sometimes someone just needs to spell it out for you. The idea of doing research ‘on the side’, in your own time, in your own way: Wow. Maybe it could indeed be different than I always thought. And maybe it would work out.
From that day, something started brewing inside me. I became hungry for exploring new things, reading, thinking and writing. To really dive deep into an issue that puzzles you and try to understand it. And I realised how I missed it. I decided to give it some space in my life for a year. This webpage is the first sight of the brewing that went on. So, coming year I’m, in Rosanne’s words, “going back to the best place a curious human being can hang around: the university.” But in another way than I used to. It’s an experiment and I don’t know the outcome yet.
I named this project and website Seeds&Leaves, because it sounds good to me and because I feel that there are so many people along the way that plant seeds in your life, often without realising. I can take these seeds, nourish them, mix them and create something new, helped by a bunch of sunlight and water. Possibly leading to new seeds to share….