“State of the ECS”: Lessons learned

“State of the ECS”: Lessons learned


Michaela here.

I’m sure I’m not the only one around here who falls into a bit of a motivation pit from time to time. So, I put quite a lot of hope into January: start the new year with a bang and get right back at work. Of course, that didn’t really work as well as I made it out in my head. Do you know the feeling when you don’t really do much because you just can’t bring yourself to work on a project? And then you get really mad at yourself and cancel meetings with your collaborators because you don’t have much to show anyway? And then after some time, you feel like you basically should have finished the paper by now, and feel so bad about it that you don’t even want to contact your collaborators anymore?
So after feeling that for quite some time now, I finally got over myself and just contacted my collaborators explaining the situation. And you know how they reacted? In true seismologist fashion: no bad feelings at all! 😊
Then after finally discussing the project, I felt so much better and actually got back my motivation.

Lesson learned: Acknowledge your problems, don’t just ignore them. Anything is better afterwards!



Eric reporting.

Goodbye, 2020. New year here I come.

Like everything in the last year, also Xmas and New Years Eve have been “special” experiences, but I tried to make the best out of it and at least the cookies have been delicious as every year 😃. Besides getting some rest for 2021, I tried to keep the home office rhythm partly alive and used the time between the years to read some papers from my to-do stack. In the first week of January, I wrote my EGU abstract; the same procedure as every year. Afterwards, I switched back to my daily thesis and paperwork routines; reading, writing, candy break 😄. An interesting zoom call with my co-authors in the US further helped me to improve the structure of my current manuscript and provided new insights. My highlight of the month was a short online course on the architecture of the Vienna Scientific Cluster; a comprehensive introduction on working on a supercomputer including some interesting hands-on training. Speaking about Vienna, we are still in lockdown mode here in Austria however, the pre-registration for the Covid-19 vaccination already started; a first step in the right direction.

Lesson learned: Delicious cookies prevail!


Janneke here!

So here we are, the first month of 2021. Where we started the year with new hopes and dreams, by the end of the first month everyone is hit back to reality: we are still spending our days behind the computer, being jealous at the people that have a dog to cuddle and the possibility of a walk after working hours (early curfew is a  fact in Holland now).

However, a new year also means new online conferences, including vEGU21! And although it is not the same as a real-life conference, it does give us something to break the daily lonely working routine and something to look forward to. A reason not to feel guilty when you do not achieve what you wanted that week, and a chance to meet some new people, even though their 2-D image and the absence of the beverages makes this more of a challenge.

For this reason, and the hope to get some more input for my project, I decided, apart from my abstract submission for vEGU21, to subscribe myself for the AESC in Australia. No expensive flight tickets or hotel costs, so it is easier than ever to attend a conference on the other side of the world. The big downside, of course, is the time difference. With Australia being 10 hours ahead of Europe, my conference starts at 1 am and ends at 8.30 am. Yes, people have called me crazy that I am doing this. But honestly, I am looking forward to it! A new conference, new people, new research. This kind of excitement I have missed for quite a while, which will hopefully pull me through the boring working days to come. Oh but please remind me of this positivity when my alarm goes off in the middle of the night and I don’t know what night and day it is anymore…

Lesson learned: Science is still happening (even at odd hours)!


Javier Ahoi!
What!? Are we really ending January? 😱
I’m surprised how fast this month passed. Hopefully, I advance in my long “To Do” list: my abstract for vEGU21 is done, I renewed my scholarship for the second year, some collaborations go on in the right way and most interesting: I’m on a boat right now.
Yes! I left my #stayathome rule just for work and now I’m on board of a Chilean navy ship sailing along Patagonia and its fjords, with a final destination: Chile Triple Junction. Our scientific goal is to recover ocean bottom seismometers installed there between the edges of Nazca, South American and Antarctic plates. This data will give us (hopefully!) important information about the tectonic setting and seismicity around this spreading centre which is in collision with the continent. The work is exciting and working with the team is fun! The last thing on the “To Do” list: fighting against the dizziness… (I just hope that I inherited my fathers anti-seasickness genes).
Lesson learned: Always pack seasickness pills when going on a cruise!



Maria here. 

Mid-January we held our monthly get-together to discuss different aspects of our ECS work and make secret plans for world domination, more on this in another blog… Anyway, during the last meeting, we were brainstorming ideas for new blog posts. I want to share with you a particularly interesting excerpt of the conversation and disclaimer, this conversation might or might not have happened exactly like this.

ECS 1: Shall we write about our achievements in 2020 despite COVID? We went on cruises and field trips, published papers and made some scientific discoveries, some finished their thesis… this is great and positive, we should share this!

ECS 2: [as sound between a groan and a violent headshake] My biggest achievement of 2020 was not to get strangled by an angry octopus. And I discovered that Darth Vader became a fashion icon. Who would have thought?

ECS 3: [cheerfully] Well, I discovered that your body needs fewer calories when you only have 24 sqm to move around.

ECS 4: [slightly annoyed] At least you have 24 sqm since I did find myself working from an 8 sqm bedroom.

ECS 1: [even more annoyed] At least you have a bedroom with a table… I was rotating between the top of the fridge and the small bookshelf for a couple of months before I moved back to my parents’ place because the urge for the company won over the desire for “independence”…

ECS 3: I put on a new record to get ready for a meeting… One minute from my bed, putting on a white shirt and switching on Zoom! The other time when I did not manage to get out of bed I claimed my camera was not working…

ECS 2: I ate noodles for lunch for four consecutive weeks. That must be some kind of new record too, right?

ECS 1: I discovered that I did save a considerable amount of money I would otherwise spend in bars. But then I started spending it all on weird things online while being bored and alone at home and nobody was there to stop me…

ECS 2: Of course, the postman consequently becomes your new best buddy…

ECS 1: Well, my pet became my new best office mate!

ECS 2, 3, 4: [outraged] You have a pet?!?!

Let us know on Twitter or Facebook what you learned from 2020… and do not want to repeat in 2021!


We are a team coming from mixed places with various interests: Janneke does her DPhil in DIAS, Dublin and is the Seismology ECS point of contact. Javier joint recently from Chile and is doing his DPhil in DGF, Universidad de Chile. Eric is finishing up his DPhil in Vienna, Austria and takes care of our Twitter account. Michaela is doing her DPhil in ETH, Swiss. Maria is doing her first PostDoc in DIAS, Dublin and since recently she is the editor-in-chief for the blog. Nienke hangs around in the University of Cambridge, UK and Walid is starting a PostDoc in Washington University in St Louis, US.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>