Blog & Updates

November 29, 2022

Our experiences after a year of SURREAL - Vernon (ESR1)

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?

This week, Vernon will talk about his experiences at Erasmus Medical Center in Rotterdam:

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?

The most interesting thing I have learned so far is the actual systems thinking approach, which has changed the way I see the world both personally and professionally.

The hardest task you have come across?

As an early stage researcher, I have some experience with conducting data analysis and performing literature reviews; however, this is the first experience where I have to develop a novel research question. This has been a more challenging task than I originally expected, because I am trying to integrate multiple complex concepts into a new cohesive message.

The most fun experience within SURREAL?

I enjoy working with other talented aspiring researchers who share my passion for improving the population’s health.

How has your research impacted your daily life?

My research has impacted the way I see problems in my daily life. Before joining SURREAL, I saw the world from a reductionist perspective where one factor affects another factor. After diving into the systems thinking literature, I see the world much differently. I find the world quite complex and dynamic, which makes it difficult to explain current issues in one sentence. As a result, I am more critical of the opinions that I hear from others in the media and in my personal life. I even challenge my own assumptions which has been a humbling experience.

A typical Dutch scenery: the windmills at Kinderdijk
The icon of the city of Rotterdam: the characteristic Erasmus Bridge
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