From October 11 to 24, 2015 the first Network Training Event (NTE1) of the Drivers of Pontocaspian Biodiversity Rise and Demise (PRIDE) program was held in Romania. The NTE1 consisted of two weeks of field work and evening lectures with the emphasis on geology and biology. The first week was geology oriented and took place in Buzau area. The second week had an emphasis on biological sampling techniques and involved field work on boats in Lake Razelm complex and in Black Sea. In between the two weeks a conference was held about the Pontocaspian lake system evolution and the advantages of cross-disciplinary research.
Three days, 29 hugely talented candidates from all over the world, 15 positions. The event to find the Early Stage Researchers that will make PRIDE.
From Australia to Germany, from Russia to Ethiopia, our candidates came from everywhere. Out of more than 300 applications we invited 30 very promising candidates for a three day event in Leiden.
On Wednesday night we had general introductory talks about the programme, but also what life as an ESR is like, followed by a joint dinner where candidates and supervisors could engage. On Thursday all candidates gave their talks and answered questions, followed again by a dinner. On Friday we had the interviews.
The outcome has been a success. We were able to fill 14 of the 15 positions straight away, and all candidates accepted. A beautiful start to an intensely connected network!
The first time all supervisors meet, engage and discuss how we will make the programme work! This feels as if we have started for real!
This is us. Background from left to right: Oana Popa, Suzanne Leroy, Niels Raes, Rachel Flecker, Cynthia Crul, Salomon Kroonenberg, Luis Popa, Arjan Gittenberger, Thomas Wilke, Joy Singarayer, Marius Stoica. Foreground Wout Krijgsman and Frank Wesselingh. Not shown: Matthias Prange
1-3-2015: The programme has officially started! After months of frantic negotiations with all institutes involved and the EU we can go now for the next four years.
On a Thursday early September a somewhat cryptic message occurred in my mailbox that more or less read as “We are inviting you to proceed with negotiations through the Participant Portal”. This was the starting point of six very intense months of transforming our application into the legal documents that are required to get the programme going. Jan-Willem Mantel and Frank Wesselingh worked very hard through the guidance of our EC-officer Giuliana Donini to get all institutes involved into the legal documents, a Grant Agreement and a Consortium Agreement.
So today the PRIDE programme is starting. Cynthia Crul takes up her work as programme manager. The first step is the advertisement of all 15 ESR positions, to attract the most talented young researchers that will make the programme and to organize the kick-off meeting. A great day to celebrate!