Miriam FOUGERAS

Science Communication Officer, Luxembourg Centre for Systems Biomedicine

German

 

Researchers have access to many opportunities in Luxembourg: trainings, workshops, traveling for research and most of all, a diverse scientific community to collaborate with.

 

 

I arrived in Luxembourg 5 years ago to start a PhD at the Luxembourg Institute of Health (LIH), thus the job brought me here, similar to many other expats in Luxembourg. My goal was to gain more experience in proteomics, the study of proteins, and I saw a great opportunity in the field of cancer research at the LIH. I studied Molecular Biotechnology in Bielefeld (Germany), which is close to my hometown, and spent one year in Lyon (France) during my studies, so besides English, I also speak French.

During my PhD I started engaging in different science communication activities led by the LIH. This was an amazing opportunity because I could transfer science to the public e.g., at the Science Festival. In 2020, I became the president of LuxDoc a.s.b.l., the association for doctoral candidates and young researchers in Luxembourg. I was lucky to have a great team who were interested in science communication as well, so we organised the first “Three Minute Thesis (3MT)” competition in Luxembourg, followed by “Women & Girls in Science” talks to promote women and their research projects and lastly, the Science Slam, which was postponed a few times but finally took place in October 2021.

After successfully completing my PhD, I started a job at the Luxembourg Centre for Systems Biomedicine (LCSB) in science communication. This means that despite staying in the field of biomedical research, I’m not actively working as a researcher anymore. As a science communicator at LCSB, I work on external and internal communication activities. During this remote working period, both have their own challenges. Internal communication has been especially difficult, so we are looking for solutions to bring people back together because one important aspect in research is collaboration and knowledge exchange. I also had the chance again to be part of the Science Festival. Explaining the concept of the DNA structure in French and German to two different groups of kids at the same time is definitely a funny challenge that is quite unique to Luxembourg!

What do you like most about your job?

The variety. Each day is different, and we make sure that new projects are coming up on a regular basis. Of course, there are day-to-day similar tasks, but the self-organisation and diversity is, what I always look for.

 

What does a typical day look for you?

Since each day is different, there is no typical one. There are recurring tasks that come regularly like translating press releases or Facebook posts into German, the organisation of our weekly team meeting or preparing content for our bi-weekly newsletter. Apart from that, I coordinate a variety of projects for external and internal communication. I am constantly in contact with other colleagues and collaborators for communication-related tasks, such as preparing news articles of recent publications, organising events, or reviewing and updating websites and internal repositories.

 

What makes doing research in Luxembourg special?

After thinking about this question, I carried out a little “survey” in my PhD community. Let’s be honest, the first thing that popped up in everyone’s mind was money. If I compare the lab equipment that I had access to during my PhD, to the previous lab that I was working in, I must say we are very lucky here in terms of resources. It makes the daily life of a researcher easier and increases reproducibility, an important factor in research. In addition, if I compare my previous situation as a PhD candidate with friends from other places, I had many more opportunities to go to summer schools and conferences thanks to the FNR funding.

 

 

Which is your favourite place in Luxembourg?

Probably the Chemin de la Corniche with the view over the Grund neighbourhood, but there are many, many more.

What’s your advice for a newcomer to Luxembourg?

Depends on where you come from and what your status is. For a young researcher, I would advise to join LuxDoc – you’ll meet many interesting people, explore Luxembourg’s culture and you’ll be even able to engage yourself and shape the association with your own ideas.

 

What would you miss most when leaving Luxembourg?

The diversity, the many cultures and languages. I like living in a city centre with many options but also having a forest with deer within walking distance.

What surprised you most about Luxembourg?

Luxembourg surprises me all the time. After the initial comparisons of size with other regions (13 times smaller than North Rhine-Westphalia, 10 times smaller than Sicily), and many people saying that it is too small, you might get the feeling that you know it by heart after a few years. Yet, I still discover new places, like the stone sculptures in the arcade of the National Archives building (thanks Tatjana!).

What is your favourite thing to do in Luxembourg?

During winter, I love to go to the sauna, which is probably not very specific to Luxembourg, but I am VERY happy that it is open again. For me, it’s the most relaxing thing and I really missed it last winter. My favourite place to go out during winter is the Café des Artistes. It feels like being in a different century, and coming back outside to the streets in Grund, after singing along with strangers, makes you think you can time travel. During summer I enjoy all the festivals in the city. Music and being outside with my friends always cheers me up.