In 2006, I started as a master sudent at IMAU. Before that, I had finished a bachelor in chemistry (Utrecht University), combined with a minor in meteorology (Wageningen University). During these years my interest in meteorology had grown, but I didn’t want to completely abandon chemistry just yet. Ideally, I would find a way to combine the two topics. Luckily, chemistry and meteorology come together in the group of Thomas Röckmann, where I did my master thesis research. My research involved radiocarbon measurements on the organic and elemental carbon in aerosols. An interesting project, for which I built my own experimental system, analysed the results and wrote my thesis. My experience with laboratory experiments came in very useful, while the topic was relevant for climate research; during my chemistry study, I had sometimes missed this connection to the real world.
After finishing my master thesis I thought it would be great to extend my time at IMAU to obtain a PhD degree. Fortunately, I could start a PhD project in Thomas’ group on an even more interesting topic: examining the emission of volatile compounds from degrading plant material in order to find missing sources in the global budgets.
During my PhD thesis research I gradually came to realize what it really means to be a scientific researcher. While it provides the opportunity to work on new, challenging subjects, it also has some aspects that don't really fit me. For example, I don’t really like to travel for work (I do for holidays, especially with a bike!). Although these may seem minor issues, I decided that science was not something I wanted to do forever.
At IMAU I met Pim who became and still is my partner (and loves cycling too) and who had similar ideas about research. We decided that after finishing our PhD, we would move to Limburg where cycling is even more fun than around Utrecht. We only had to find a new job...