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Jonathan de Roo
Jonathan de Roo

Hi guys, today I would like to talk about the PhD formula. What comprises a PhD? I have no idea about other countries but in Belgium, a professor has three tasks: education, research and service.

They should all be in balance. A professor who is only devoted to research won’t get a promotion.

My point is that the work of a PhD student should also reflect this (holy) trinity.

Too many people are only focused on publishing and being first author on this in JACS and co-author on that in  Nature.

PhD means Doctor in Philosophy and originates from the fact that scientists were very versatile in the early days.

They knew about languages (since there was no universal science language), about Aristotle, drama, philosophy and yes, also a bit about maths and physics. Nowadays, we are much more specialised but we shouldn’t lose the bigger picture.

Why are we investigating a certain topic?

Because it has value for mankind. Because it will make the life of people more comfortable or extended. Because we want to be able to switch on the light without feeling guilty about CO2 and global warming. This is the service we are doing to the community.

Now, just think about how we came to do a PhD. Who made that possible?

The people who allowed us to study, our parents and the community that paid for the largest part of our studies. And there we have an important word: studies. Education.

Without people who invested their time in education, we wouldn’t know the difference between a sigma and a pi bond.

(take a look at the video below if  don´t know the difference).

So as a PhD student, this is our chance to return the favour.

Now we have the knowledge to be spread among the new generation. It would be such a pity if we considered teaching as an unpleasant obligatory side business.

Actually, teaching is an important part of our job.

Make no mistake,  it is  our job.

And we should do it well, for who else but the next generation is going to take care of us?

So, be inspiring in front of the class. Give students an enthusiastic, intelligent, well-groomed role model to look up to. Stimulate them to be curious, to ask questions, to think further, to question every bit of information you provide them with.

You have the power to shape and mould fresh minds into critical spirits that will invent applications beyond your wildest dreams.

We are humble servants to the community. We research new ideas to create a better life for all, and we will make sure that the future won’t lack brilliant minds.

May the force be with you.