Cool science and warm sun in San Diego

I went to University of California, San Diego (UCSD) do my master thesis project work and then I stayed at the same university for my PhD and postdoc. Thus I lived in the US for 10 years before I moved to Stockholm to start my own lab. I remember how left Sweden a cold day in January many years ago, and landed in a place where it felt like early summer in the middle of the winter. This January I went back to spend a month as  “visiting professor” in the lab where I did my doctoral training. It was a bit strange in the beginning, to know a place very well, but at the same time be somewhat of a stranger. But it only took a day or two before I felt right at home again.

I decided to spend a month back in the US for two reasons, to maintain my American scientific network and to find more uninterrupted time to write. My days were quite different compared to at the Karolinska. I started my workday at 5 in the morning with Skype meetings with my lab members back home. Data discussion and planning in my PJ! By 8 my Swedish workday was over and I had time to go for a run along the Pacific Ocean. Perfect place to reflect and reset. I spent some of my days in meetings with students, researchers and new and old collaborators and I got to take part of some really cool science. I gave three talks during this time and that gave me good exposure. Some of the meetings could perhaps have taken place over the computer, but I got reminded about how different it is with “face-to-face” contact.  A lot more happens during those type of interactions and I made what I foresee will be new important connections.

The rest of the time I spent with my computer writing… a special feeling to be active when Sweden is sleeping. My email inbox stayed refreshingly quiet during those hours. As much as I enjoy writing I have realized that I am easily distracted, and I really need to isolate myself to focus on the text. I guess that in one way or another you have to develop your skill as an author when you are a scientist. Even if our texts tend to be technical, there still needs to be a “story” and a flow that appeals to the reader. You hear how authors rent houses in lonely places to find focus and inspiration. Spending time in San Diego vas my version of that… and it paid off. Two research manuscripts and one review chapter done. But now I am ready to go back home! I miss my team members and the daily fun we have together!