Promootiopäivälliset 27.5.
Tohtoripromootio 2011

Nuorten tohtorien vastaus, FT Saara Tuomi

Rakkaat ystävät ja kollegat; hyvät naiset ja herrat:

Onpa ollut upea päivä yhdessä juhlistaa tieteellisen uran ensimmäistä askelta; tohtorin arvoa. Tuntuu hienolta muistella saavutusta vielä läheisten tohtorikollegoiden kanssa, vaikka omat juhlat on jo väitöspäivänä juhlittu. Samalla voi palata vielä hetkeksi miettimään sitä pitkähköltä tuntunutta uurastusta väitöskirjan parissa ja todeta miten hyvältä tuntuukaan kun se kaikki sujui niin hienosti. Tänään todella tulevaisuus näyttää valoisalta ja tuntuu siltä kuin kaikki ovet maailmaan olisivat auki.

Ladies and gentlemen, dear friends and colleagues:

Who would have known that it feels this good to be finished? The years of long evenings and weekends in the lab and with the writing have seized, the endless schedules and deadlines are met and, to be honest, breathing has felt a bit easier since the day of graduation. And at least, the worries have changed into new ones since, until the day of a finished doctoral examination, the educational path has been more or less clear. After high school it feels logical to apply to a university and doing a PhD comes natural for the most. Our doctoral studies are shielded by our mentor and graduate schools, which allows us to enjoy the journey in becoming a doctor. But life after that can be a black hole for the most of us young doctors. The amount of new PhDs is increasing and finding a position in the university seems far too unreachable and competitive. The images of rejected grant proposals or manuscripts might appear too scary. Frequently, young PhD’s purely lack self esteem to head to an academic career, even if willingness to do so exists.

One of the puzzling things after PhD studies is the future post –doc period. As intriguing opportunity as it is, the challenges in finding the right timing for going abroad might seem formidable. Especially for us young female doctors, this is quite difficult since at the time of graduation, the biological clock is ticking already quite loudly and the thoughts between starting a family and leaving Finland for post-doc are trying to find balance inside the head. The relieving reality is to know that there is no right timing or a completely reliable way to plan these things. The only option is to just go with the flow and trust on the fact that life carries no matter what comes first. Luckily the post-doc period is something that can be experienced with the whole family. How to then find a post-doc position where working 8 hours a day is enough? Personally, I believe that one person’s 8 hours equals that of some other’s 12 hours in the name of done work, if it is done efficiently. Also, enjoying the other aspects of life will certainly make the hours at work more efficient. Thus, finding the right place might take some time but most likely pays off: hardly ever has it been an unpleasant experience to see the world and different cultures. Returning home richer with the experiences and friends gained during that time is worthy of gold. Afterall, everyone needs contacts and networks to move on to the next step in the career, whether it was in the private sector or in the academia.

With all the obstacles and decisions to be made, why do we still want to stay in academia and in the uncertain world of science? Because it is the best job there is! As stated already by Professor Sirpa Jalkanen, characteristic to this work is the continuing excitement, which keeps the scientist ever thrilled by even the smallest discoveries and in motion to explain these to themselves and to others. This can be compared to the blue-eyed thrill of a child when discovering how something new works. This child-like enthusiasm is what characterizes a devoted scientist, no matter what the age, and what could be more rewarding than being excited about your job. Likely all of us have experienced the excited atmosphere at an international meeting where the long days of tough scientific discussions have turned into the early hours of more relaxed discussions and you can witness the guru of your field to dance the night away before the scientific sessions the next morning. Are these the people who don’t have to face the worries of rejected funding or crashed manuscript? No, they struggle with the same problems and in many countries with much heavier competition. The key is to leave the worries aside and broad-mindedly, with a relentless attitude carry on with the treasure hunting and trust that someway, somehow the required support is offered to you for doing that. And this is what makes the academic work so attractive: the possibility to do ever-exhilarating work and even getting paid for that.

So, ladies and gentlemen, young doctors at age or mind: let me propose a toast to our mentors, the University of Turku and graduate schools, exciting science and enjoying life!

Päivitetty 27.05.2011 08:51