Blog: Losing good friends

Scientists are like nomads these days, so blogger Katrin has to say goodbye a lot to colleagues. She hopes not for long.

Last month we met up with a big group of people from the lab and went to a restaurant in Wageningen. Of course, keeping a distance, scattered around multiple tables on the terrace of the establishment. This was the first social gathering since the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic. We had good food, beer, and enjoyed each other’s company, while the weather was great. But actually, the reason for our gathering was a sad one.

We met up to bid a long-time lab member and good friend of mine a proper goodbye, as he moved back to Taiwan. We have lots of these occasions in our lab since scientists live like nomads and only stay in one place for a few years before they start their own groups. But even though it is a normal part of the job, it is always painful to see colleagues go. We are a strong group; we like each other a lot, but also have certain roles. When someone leaves, the group needs to adapt and re-arrange. Every person that moves away leaves behind a gap. The guy who moved last month left behind a crater.

Every person that moves away leaves behind a gap

He was one of the most engaged colleagues I ever had and a very experienced postdoc, who was like a mentor for me and many others in the lab. I make deep connections with multiple people, probably because science is tough, and we grow together while we go through the experience. Last year, I already had to say goodbye to one of the kindest and sweetest people I ever met, she went back to Russia. The year before that, my former master thesis supervisor, who had become a good friend, returned to France.

With the busy lifestyles we have, it is hard to keep in touch with everyone as much as I would like. But I don’t want good friends to turn into people I used to work with. So, we try to contact each other regularly, and I’m already looking forward to seeing them, once travelling is safe again.

Katrin Heidemeyer came to Wageningen in 2014 to do her Masters, and started her PhD at the Laboratory of Biochemistry thee years ago. She hails from Germany.

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