Blog & Updates

December 13, 2022

Our experiences after a year of SURREAL - Daina (ESR12)

12 months ago, many of our Early Stage Researchers joined the SURREAL project and we are eager to share their most important experiences to date.

Every week, an ESR will provide a mini update by answering the 4 questions below. Hopefully, this will give you some insight into their most important first year experiences.

12 months on…:

  • What is the most interesting thing you’ve learnt?
  • The hardest task you have come across?
  • The most fun experience within SURREAL?
  • How has your research impacted your daily life?

Daina will be the next ESR to share her experiences about her work and life in Rotterdam, The Netherlands:

Where: Erasmus Medical Center, Rotterdam, Department of Public Health, Social Epidemiology Section
When: Started in September 2021

What is the most interesting thing you have learnt?

'During the first year, I have read extensively about the systems thinking approach to public health. It has been enlightening to think about urban health inequalities as a systemic problem with many interacting elements and feedback loops.'

The hardest task you have come across?

'I find it challenging to narrow down my ideas into specific research questions that could be answered by the datasets that I have available. It feels that for truly novel research ideas different kinds of questions need to be asked that you cannot find answered in a typical social epidemiology survey. It has made me explore qualitative research methods, systems thinking approaches and novel causal inference methods.'

The most fun experience within SURREAL?

'Like many other ESRs I truly enjoyed the SURREAL Network School in Utrecht. It was great to spend time with the other ESRs, supervisors and advisors. I appreciate that I have a network of brilliant researchers that I can rely on and venture on this journey together with.'

A daily source of inspiration - the view through our office windows on the 23rd floor.

How has your research impacted your daily life?

'Reading about urban mental health has made me reflect on how situational and external factors affect my wellbeing. I have noticed that I do tend to feel better after long walks in nature parks (that are so difficult to find around Rotterdam!).'

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