My name is Vesna and I am currently a PhD student in the final stages of the journey. At the same time, I am a full-time employee at the University of Zagreb, Croatia, where I work as a Research and Teaching Assistant at the Faculty of Science, Department of Biology, Division of Zoology. My daily work includes preparing and giving practical lectures on protists and invertebrates to students and very often juggling in the lab, followed by many hours of working on the data obtained. In the spring, I acctually leave my lab to collect samples in the real world, where I enjoy endlessly marinating in the beautiful Croatian rivers and streams. Being part biologist/ecologist and part geologist, I am passionate about interdisciplinary projects and such topics. For example, my PhD thesis involves revitalised calcite precipitating streams and the bioindicator potential of unicellular eukaryotic microbes to monitor the restoration process!
Although I love being a hermit, part of me enjoys the company of others. Therefore, I have always sought opportunities to meet new people and have participated in several international programmes so far as a Master’s and PhD student, such as the IAESTE fellowship in Krakow, Poland, and the SMIRES training school in Girona, Spain. I am also an active member and social media moderator of HUSEk Cafe (Croatian Association of Freshwater Ecologists) and EFYR (European Fresh and Young Researchers), and in my scarce free time, a storyteller for children in hospitals (my favourite role to date :))
As my PhD is slowly coming to an end, I have a bit more free time and would love to add new people to my network, especially those interested in the water sector. I think the EJWP is a great opportunity to connect with such talented and passionate individuals, especially as it provides the opportunity to connect different aspects of the water sector such as scientific research, policy making and the industry itself. Given this brilliant programme that brings together so many bright minds, I have high expectations and can not wait for it to finally get started!
We asked Vesna some questions, and these are her answers.
What value do you expect to bring to your organization from your EJWP participation?
“I hope to bring a breeze of fresh thoughts and ideas, that is the least I expect. Croatian universities are still rookies when it comes to participation in international programmes, because we are the youngest country to join the EU. I hope that as the first research assistant from University of Zagreb to participate in the EJWP, I can lay the foundation for future international collaborations. Our students need to learn about and get involved in networks like Nexus, because their generations will be dealing with the challenges of climate change, low-carbon and carbon-free economy in Europe.“
What value do you expect to bring to your career, community and/or the water sector from your EJWP journey?
“It’s only been a few months since I joined EJWP, and I have already met so many inspiring experts in the water field. I had the opportunity to attend an EIT pitching event as a jury member, where I was able to learn firsthand about real-world industry and stakeholder issues! This was a game channger for me as I stepped out of my comfort zone of writing and reading publications. If all of this happened in just a few months, I can not imagine what to expect in the years to come. I am entering the programme with a set of academia- related skills but I hope to leave with a set of different ones, including cross-cultural communication, water policy skills and project management.”