|Posted on May 9, 2011 at 6:21 PM|
My time in Szczecin came to an end. After two short years filled with all sort of adventures I'm moving on. My next destination is Donostia, in the Basque Country... but that will be the issue of a coming post. In the following lines I will sum up my experience in Poland.
The group was very small but people were nice to me (Jerzy, Jacek, Marcin, Ewa,Stan and lately Joanna). Scientifically, I have no complaints. I already knew Jerzy, both the guy and the scientist and we understood each other quite well. He is the most knowledgeable scientist I have ever met, and probably I will ever meet. I have learnt a great deal of things from him, and together we have put the basis (algorithm and software) for the study of few-electron harmonium systems. I had also time to learn on my own some basic guidelines to program in parallel (mostly with MPI protocol), which I used to parallelize a few codes of mine. I familiarized myself with literature in the field and got a couple of ideas, which little by little turned into a four-year research project to(hopefully) develop at some point in the coming years. The number of papers published on the main research subject of this postdoc is not large (three so far), but this is mostly because the development of the code/algorithm toke most of my time, the calculations were time consuming and they needed large computational resources that were not easy to obtain. We are actually still looking for resources to finish four-electron harmonium calculations (ideas welcome!). Therefore, some more publications should appear in the coming years. Besides, I also dedicated a not-so-small fraction of my (free) time to work on other research projects because, no matter how much I learn, no papers is no future. The competition is really high. I started collaborations with Prof. Kallol Ray (computational calculations), Prof. István Mayer (decomposition of total spin angular momentum), Prof. Mihai Putz (conceptual DFT), Prof. Gabriel Merino (aromaticity) and my former group in Girona (Prof. Solà's). These collaborations and the last papers from my postdoctoral stay in Denmark with Prof. Ove Christiansen provided the gross publication record during these two years of postdoc.
My only problem on my stay in Szczecin was the university administration. Unfortunately the university did not have (and it doesn't) the adequate infrastructure to hold a Marie Curie fellow (IEF). People who were supposed to take care of my fellowship did not know anything about it and sometimes simply noone took responsibility for it. Everytime there was an issue with my grant it was a nightmare for them... and for me. Someway, somehow (Polska!) it went through, but not without much time and effort from my side. Here I should mention Jacek who did not benefit from this fellowship (and it was not his duty) and carried on his shoulders the paperwork and problems related with the IEF. What is more, he bore my complaints with cheerful equanimity. Without him I would have surely packed and left after the second month. Don't get me wrong, I had an ample office, broadcast connection and nice atmosphere to work (all that a theoretical chemist needs), but every little paper work was a big deal and lots of mess.
On the personal side I had a great time in Szczecin, mostly because of Jacek (yep, the same guy!) and Jadwiga. They were my neighbors and my friends; we shared dinners, Sunday lunches, bottles of wine and Easter parties. Basically any excuse was good to meet. They also helped me with many issues of my apartment that I could not take care by myself because of the language barrier. There are not enough words to acknowledge what they did for me.
All in all, I do not regret a single day I spent in Szczecin. It was a worthwhile experience that I will never forget.
Last dinner in Zbójnicka. From left to right: Jerzy, Jacek, my long-hair-no-shaved me and Marcin.