Who am I and which is my previous background?
I am Maurizio Mascarello. I am Italian and I graduated in Environmental Biology at the University of Turin in 2013. After that I achieved a Research Master degree in Crop Science at the University College Dublin and I worked as a Research Assistant in Plant Genetics at the Technical University of Munich.
What I am doing now?
I am a PhD student at Meise Botanic Garden in Belgium since May 2018, taking part to the research initiative “PlantID: Molecular identification of Plants” (https://www.plantid.uio.no/), receiving funding from the Horizon 2020 ITN-MSCA. The title of my project is “Genomic Barcoding as a tool to trace and identify illegally logged African trees”( https://www.plantid.uio.no/research/projects/esr12.html) . I am enrolled as a PhD student at KU Leuven (Belgium) and I am collaborating with the Wood Biology Services of the Royal Museum for Central Africa (Tervuren, Belgium).
How did I hear about the position?
I found the ad of the position in EURAXESS, where I also previously found the ad related to my Research degree in Ireland. I suggest this website to candidate PhD students searching for academic positions, also considering that all MSCA positions are advertised there.
How is the working environment at Meise Botanic Garden?
I am working in a scientific laboratory with skilled and helpful people. We work as a part of a team in order to reach our research purposes. I have plenty of freedom to perform my personal experiments and I can benefit from technical support in each situation. The molecular laboratory of Meise Botanic Garden is currently in evolution in order to solve biological issues in Plant Biodiversity and Conservation using the most advanced technologies.
What about my life in Belgium?
I am currently living in Leuven, a nice student city placed in the Dutch-speaking area of Belgium. KU Leuven is a very cosmopolitan university, which offers a lot of support to students as well as the possibility to take part in various activities during the leisure time in order to meet many international students. Outside the university, the majority of people speaks English, so that it is possible to benefit of all primary services without the knowledge of the local language. A weak point of Belgium is the slow and complicated procedure for the completion of the administrative procedures for the regular establishment in the country. Thus, I suggest to future incoming people to get some information about these procedures prior to the arrival in Belgium.
I think that being an Early Stage Researcher gives the possibility to work as a part of a network for the achievement of final research purposes, as well as to take part in a research programs useful at both personal and professional level, in order to maximize the possibility to find good job positions and to satisfy our personal ambitions.