I believe that I have benefited, both personally and professionally, from my own mobility. This, in turn, drives me to offer the same benefits to my students. I am currently applying for travel grants so my PhD student may have some overseas research experience.
Dr Petra Ágota Szilágyi was born and educated to graduate level in Hungary. She spent some months in the USA before taking up a PhD in materials chemistry, jointly located between Hungary and France. She then moved to Edinburgh, the Netherlands and Australia, before moving back to the UK; "I am a Francophile with a love of French literature. This inspired my initial journey. But then I visited Edinburgh and fell in love with the city. Beyond this, my choice of workplace has been more rooted in career-development than personal reasons, although those early moves were just as beneficial for my career."
From Petra's viewpoint, being internationally mobile offers several advantages; "Moving between countries expands your awareness of different laboratories and equipment, your professional network grows exponentially, and you get to learn different approaches. So, you adapt better, which I think is also important in a collaborative work environment. On a professional level, you are likely to change topic to some extent when moving to another institution so you have to be prepared to do a lot of reading, set up and adjust your laboratory, and get used to a new routine."
International mobility has had a huge impact on Petra’s career. Her research interests and scientific approach have been greatly influenced by the projects she has been involved in and the researchers she has worked with. “Different institutions offered different assistance and support for proposal writing or for career development.”
Petra believes her career moves have had both advantages and drawbacks when it comes to her access to funding; “For an early- to mid-career researcher, mobility is typically seen as positive as it shows some leadership skills and highlights dedication. The drawbacks are more indirect. There have been a few occasions when I have missed out because my contract would not cover the full length of the funding period."
On a personal level, Petra has become more confident, which she believes is particularly important for a young female researcher; “I believe that I have benefited, both personally and professionally, from my own mobility. This, in turn, drives me to offer the same benefits to my students. I am currently applying for travel grants so my PhD student may have some overseas research experience."
Explore a timeline of Petra's career