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Exploring the passion for research

UCM-meeting Just being curious

MAASTRICHT. A dark red curtain, a wooden table, an illuminated globe and famous books of critical minds – the organisers of Just being Curious have inventively decorated the stage in UCM’s common room for an evening dedicated to ‘the bright side of research’. It’s Wednesday 23 January. Students and staff have settled on couches and chairs, ready for inspirational words by researchers.
Following the model of the Dutch TV show Zomergasten, UCM student Annika Lübbert and lecturer Oscar van den Wijngaard interview two guests: Birsen Erdogan from Turkey, a lecturer in Human Rights at the Department of International and European Law, and Dutch Jonathan van Tilburg, an assistant professor at the Faculty of Health, Medicine and Life Sciences, who coordinates the Premium honours programme. “We want to celebrate the fun and inspiring side of research”, the organisers announced on Facebook. “Passion and curiosity are often forgotten as we are busy creating the perfect CV.” The guests speak about their parents, inspiration and turning points in their careers. “My father wanted me to become a judge, my mother wanted me to become a doctor, and my grandfather wanted me to become an ambassador”, Erdogan laughs. “How was I supposed to know what I wanted myself?” Van Tilburg describes his parents’ support very differently: “My parents said they would be happy with any career I chose, as long as it made me happy.”
Both sketch a diverse picture of possible careers in research. Erdogan talks about her time as a “militant feminist” and communist student in Ankara, while Van Tilburg discusses his postdoctoral biomedical research at Harvard University.
Despite their different backgrounds, both researchers convey a similar message to the students: “Find your own way, follow your interests, anything is possible – as long as you’re willing to work hard.”
With luck, Just being Curious, now organised for the first time, will be held again in June 2013.

Marie Rosenkranz






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