Join our 20.000 subscribers and receive the monthly newsletter for free!

RELATED ARTICLES
Belgium is TOP biotech non-US hotspot

Genengnews, the US news agency for Genetic Engineering & Biotechnology, published a list of 12 non-US hotspots for biotechnology jobs. Belgium is …


CEO FLUIDDA wins Antwerp Young Enterpreneur of the Year prize

This year marked the 6th edition of the Antwerp Young Enterpreneur competition, highlighting the entrepreneurial spirit in the province’s younger …


AbbVie in top 10 Best Workplaces 2016

On March 15th, the Best Workplaces of 2016 in Belgium were awarded. AbbVie, as the sole biopharmaceutical company, ranks in the top 10. In a n…

POPULAR TAGS

Caitlin Gillis at VIB - Foreign Scientist in Belgium

Written by ALB on in the category Insights with the tags , .


Caitlin Gillis left the sunshine and warmth of Australia a few years ago to come to live in Europe. After a stint in Paris, she moved to Ghent last year to work at VIB/UGent. Her research project here in Belgium focuses on apoptotic cell clearance. We asked her to share her thoughts about Belgian work life and culture, and how it compares to her native Australia.

What’s your job and what did you study?

I’m a postdoctoral scientific researcher, working in a lab at the VIB/University of Ghent. I studied a Bachelor of Science with Honors in Sydney, Australia, and moved to Paris to complete my PhD. I work in immunology and inflammatory diseases.

What are you researching in Belgium?

I’m currently studying the clearance of dead and dying (apoptotic) cells. My project investigates how we can modulate apoptotic cell clearance by both macrophages and “non-professional” phagocytes and whether this could be of benefit in the context of inflammatory disease.

What do you enjoy about your work?

I love the flexibility of my job: from one day to the next you never do the same thing. You are not stuck at a desk, because a lot of the work is very practical, but at the same time you have to make time for reading, writing and thinking. I like that I can determine what I want to do and what I want to work on. The aim is to figure things out that nobody in the world yet knows or understands, but there is also a potential to improve human health outcomes in the future – that is a good motivation to get out of bed in the morning!
What is the difference between working in Australia and working in Belgium?

It’s been over 5 years since I worked in Australia. One thing that surprised me in Belgium, though, was that people arrive early to work and leave early! The support systems and resources are outstanding, compared to my previous workplaces.

How did you end up in Belgium?

Serendipity! From Paris, I needed to move labs, and I wanted to stay in Europe. It was a difficult choice for me: where to go next? This work opportunity at VIB came up, so I applied. I had a good feeling about the job, and it’s a really excellent opportunity. Plus, Belgium is close to France! I moved here in August 2017, so only about six months ago.

Do you like living in Belgium? How is it different to Australia and France?

I’m not sure yet whether I like it - it’s different. I find the lifestyle much calmer and I have the sense that you can have a very good quality of life by comparison to Paris. The bureaucracy is certainly more efficient than France. I love that I still have access to a lot of French products (for example cheese at the supermarket) but also many more international options and a wider selection of foods. Although I am finding it very difficult to get good baking products in the supermarkets!

People are very friendly and everyone speaks English, which is nice, but I feel like a proper expat again, especially since I don’t speak Flemish. The combination of different languages and multilingualism creates a good atmosphere. The public transport is pretty unreliable within the city, but the intercity trains work OK. On the other hand, I’ve started riding a bike and I love how bike-friendly it is; the bike paths are well marked and the cars are very respectful. The things I miss most about Australia are my family, the beaches and pools.

How do you spend your time when you’re not at work?

Traveling, wining and dining, visiting friends and receiving visitors. I love to read, but unfortunately that is saved mostly for vacations. I’ve discovered Netflix! I do miss swimming at the beach - I used to run; now that the weather is getting warmer I hope to start running again.
What dreams and future plans do you have?

I expect to stay in Belgium three to four years. By then I think it will be about time to go home to Australia for a while; I miss my country very much. I hope that I will be able to establish myself as a scientist back home. I aim to still be able to collaborate and work with Europeans to keep the connection, and of course to continue spending time here on a regular basis.

 

 

 

RELATED ARTICLES
Belgium is TOP biotech non-US hotspot

Genengnews, the US news agency for Genetic Engineering & Biotechnology, published a list of 12 non-US hotspots for biotechnology jobs. Belgium is …


CEO FLUIDDA wins Antwerp Young Enterpreneur of the Year prize

This year marked the 6th edition of the Antwerp Young Enterpreneur competition, highlighting the entrepreneurial spirit in the province’s younger …


AbbVie in top 10 Best Workplaces 2016

On March 15th, the Best Workplaces of 2016 in Belgium were awarded. AbbVie, as the sole biopharmaceutical company, ranks in the top 10. In a n…

POPULAR TAGS

Sign up to our Mailing List to receive updates
of our latest News, Events & Magazines

Turnstone Flanders.bio Itera Life Science KU Leuven UGent Biowin Janssen XpandInnovation GSK V-Bio Ventures

ABOUT BIOVOX - Sharing Life Sciences Innovations

BioVox showcases interesting life sciences breakthroughs for and from Belgian innovators. Through our partnership with BioCentury we share relevant worldwide innovations and business updates while our local journalists focus on regional highlights. 

Interested to get involved? Get in touch! We are looking for content, writers and partners! Blogs are available for research institutes, companies and freelance experts.

You want to reach out to the biotechnology and life sciences community, targetting selected audiences? Discover our sponsor and publication opportunities as well as tailored packages!

Contact BioVox via news@biovox.be or by completing the contact form.