I wouldn't have been able to forge the research collaboration that I wanted to if I hadn't moved from Edinburgh to Amsterdam. The contacts I made were critical.
Originally from Luxembourg, Dr Frank Dondelinger undertook his early academic studies in Edinburgh. He then took up postdoctoral roles in the Netherlands and Cambridge, before moving into his current position as a lecturer at Lancaster University; "There were no options to study in my field of interest in Luxemburg, so I had to be mobile. I could have stayed closer to home in Belgium, France or Germany, but I wanted to work in English. The UK, and Edinburgh in particular, are very highly rated in my field of informatics and statistics."
Interested in the application of machine learning to practical problems in biological and biomedical research, Frank’s move to the Netherlands Cancer Institute (NKI-AvL) was motivated by the offer of a postdoctoral fellowship to work with interesting captured data sets. When his supervisor took up a new role at the MRC (Medical Research Council) BioStatistics Unit in Cambridge, Frank was both able and happy to follow.
“Moving between countries made me more tolerant of other cultures and directly informed my research direction” explains Frank. “I wouldn't have been able to forge the research collaboration that I wanted to if I hadn't moved from Edinburgh to Amsterdam. The contacts I made were critical.”
For Frank, moving across Europe was easy, but he notes that this might change in future; "I've never had to take out a visa. The only thing I had to do was to get a national social security number and even this was arranged through my employer. Now, the outcomes of Brexit are of concern as they could affect me personally, requiring me to get a visa as a Luxembourg national. Like most people in my position, I'm still hoping that researchers from Europe with jobs in the UK already will be able to stay automatically." Frank believes bureaucratic burdens should be limited, to facilitate mobility; “If the UK wishes to encourage mobility, the system needs to offer a seamless transition with limited administrative hassle or minimal financial penalties. Simple life requirements, like getting a car loan, can become difficult without a credit rating, for example.”
From a research perspective, Frank believes he is better off now than if he had never left Luxembourg or Edinburgh; "Mobility has definitely helped my career and therefore my economic situation. I don't think I would be at this career stage, as a lecturer in a secure role, if I hadn't pursued opportunities when they arose. Being exposed to many different people is hugely beneficial and this kind of collaboration is not easy to do remotely."
Explore a timeline of Frank's career