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(48) Research on HEALTH: dementia.

… and so I went to the Brightland Campus in Heerlen. You will hear more about it in the international news, just give it some time. It was my second visit at one of it’s centers, BISS Institute and I already fell in love with it. It reminds me about the Dutch Central Statistics Bureau: innovative, large spaces, new style of organizational management. In one of the offices I met Danny, who’s startup name, in my view, is brilliant: “Rementis“, helps people facing ‘remembering’ problems – dementia. Speaking of which, do you remember when we agreed that Research is not only used and done at the university and only by scientists, but also in business? 😉 Here is how Rementis uses Research to advance in their work and explain to people that struggle with dementia. This is Research on HEALTH month on Researchista.

Hi, my name is Danny Pouwels, 27y. I work for the last 6 years with people who suffer from dementia and see a lot of struggles. So, in jan. 2016 I quit my job to help the people who suffer from dementia.

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Danny Pouwels, social entrepreneur

Dementia is becoming one of the most intrusive diseases that crucially diminish the quality of life of those who suffer from it and the people around them. Seeing the struggles that dementia causes and the future developments of our population, it is important to tackle individual & demographic problems by cost-efficiently and effectively supporting the lives of people that suffer from dementia.

 Alzheimer Europe estimates the number of people with dementia in the Netherlands in 2012 as being 245,560. This represents 1.47% of the total population of 16,714,228. The number of people with dementia as a percentage of the population is somewhat lower than the EU average of 1.55%. The following table shows the estimated number of people with dementia between 30 and 59 and for every 5-year age group thereafter.

The biggest struggle they face at home is losing their ability to maintain a structured daily routine, or in other words being unable to face daily life independently. In almost all cases, enabling dementia patients to stay at home requires external help from (professional) caregivers.

As the condition of the patient declines, the caregivers (i.e. the people around them) become increasingly overwhelmed with tasks and soon face the issue of investing the majority of their persona time in giving care. This is an issue known to cause a series of mental problems. By enabling the dementia patient to continue to live independently, we reduce the time that caregivers are required to invest in order to take care of them. Consequently, the time and costs that are saved can be reallocated to individual or collective activities outside of the caregiving aspect.

We are Rementis and we want to remind people. Not only about the small things in life but also about the fact that, with the right help, an independent life is possible even when things look bad. We offer an in-house solution that supports them in independently completing those day-to-day tasks by sending constant reminders about what, when and how to do something. Moreover, to counteract the cognitive decline of the user we stimulate the cognitive, physical and social activity through various features.

A multifunctional display that serves as a smart-reminder, supporting the daily life of the user through various features that are offered on the Rementis platform. All features are based on either one of the aspects that stimulate the user on cognitive, physical or social level.

Post written by Danny Pouwels from Rementis.

With love for Research,

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anxiety boring enthusiasm Environment future happiness health knowledge love passion research stereotype struggle

(38) Research on Food: make-your-own-little-Research.

Every Monday, during a month on Researchista’s Blog you will find a new subject in which we invite one or more Researchers to talk about it. They are called “Special Guests” (because they are special and because they are guests). At the end of every subject (4th week of each month), Researchista is inviting anyone willing to explore how that topic affects their daily life. This section is called “Make-your-own-little-Research” and is encouraging everyone to make their Research (it’s called little, because is our own private investigation 😉 ), by giving an example of how to use different Research concepts and methods to investigate that subject. As a results we hope to help changing our own behaviour about a topic in selected area. This is Research on Food (industry) month on Researchista, so our little Research is going to be on this subject.

Say hello to Irina B. aka Researchista and Diana Z. aka Social activist, i-care-about-the-environment-lets-do-it-together friend! This is our little Research. What would yours be like? m?

Little Research: “How to Read Food Labels”.

How to know which ingredients are not good for your health? Research is your best friend. Let’s start by making it clear: we love food. So much. You can not imagine.

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Irina B. aka Researchista

At the same time, we wonder what is healthy to eat and what is not? When we go shopping for food, are we actually buying the healthy food? This is our ‘Research question’ (a r.q. is usually stands for the aim/goal/purpose/objective of a scientific study): to what extent the food we buy is healthy? In other words, how to understand what it says on the package of content we buy.

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Diana Z. aka Busy Avocado

And here we start our journey, with the help of food blogger to become and corporate activist in this area, Diana and Irina ‘willing-to-learn how to read the labels’. Let’s figure this out.

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in Park & Shop, Dubai (United Arab Emirates)

First, determine what package of food you consume often and wish to know if it contains any chemicals or unhealthy products.

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in HEMA, Maastricht (Netherlands)

Food labeling is required by law and should be clear, accurate and easy to understand and protect the consumer. It should help the consumers to know what they are buying. It is regulated by different bodies in different countries. Information required to be displayed: ingredients, weight, name of food, storage instructions, use-by-date, clear preparation and cooking instructions, name and address of manufacturer, place of origin, batch number, any genetically modified ingredients, beverages which contain >1.2% alcohol. Nutritional information is only required if there is a nutritional claim made.

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Fats and sugars are contents that need extra research. If most of the fat content comes from healthy unsaturated fat, then it is a green light. If the fat is mainly saturated and/or the product has any trans-fat, it is definitely a no. Also watch out for Vegetable Oil.

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Source: internet

Vegetable oils are manufactured in a factory, usually from genetically modified crops that have been heavily treated with pesticides. Sugar, another “watch out!”,  has many names, 56 to be precise. If we notice these ingredients, besides sugar and if they come as first or second ingredient, better place this product back on the shelf.

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Source: thetruthaboutcancer.com

Once we are clear on the nutrition facts, we can continue with the individual ingredients research. Unfortunately, majority of manufacturers use various sickening ingredients that we cannot even pronounce their names. I have a general rule regarding this, if I cannot read and understand it, I don’t buy it. Watch out for the sickening ingredients: growth hormones, antibiotics, pesticides, artificial sweeteners, BPA, artificial flavors and sweeteners, dyes and conditioners, carrageenan and others.

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Source: simpleobtainablesolutions.com

In conclusion, Researching food products’ labels can be an overwhelming task and maybe sometimes we can end up thinking there is nothing safe left to eat, but eventually the label understanding skills become habits and the process of identifying the good food is becoming as easy as ABC.

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Source: Pinterest, Mariasea

 

Happy Shopping!

Literature review with the courtesy of Busy Avocado and

With love for Research,

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Note from Diana:

“As people are becoming more health conscious, the demands for ethical food is on the rise. By ethical we mean not only sustainable, but also ethically grown, processed, packaged and marketed. Unfortunately, we witness that many large corporations are taking ethics for granted and only care about their profit, thus maximizing production, while neglecting the nutritional value of food. Many products already enter the food chain filled with chemicals and substances that can damage our health. Later on they are processed with additives, dyes, preservatives and thickeners, and eventually packaged in materials that are also hazardous for health. But the worst part is that companies spend thousands to promote these products, create beautiful packages, advertisements and incentives. Moreover, many of them go to the extreme to portray these products as healthy and suitable for children. Stopping these companies from producing and marketing products that contain harmful ingredients is not easy. In many countries corporations have a lot of power in the food industry. But there is another way to combat them. Learn to read and understand labels and avoid products that are clearly damaging your health.

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Academia first years of PhD knowledge research Researcher Special Guest stereotype struggle

(34) Impostor Syndrome in Academia.

Dear Researchista friend, allow me to introduce you to Laurien, our ‘intern’ (is unusual to call a PhD, an intern), whom I had the pleasure to meet through Maastricht University’s Alumni Office (thanks to Guido Vanderbroeck). In the light of Researchista’s strong encouragement for Researchers to get creative, please welcome this PhD post. This is Laurien’s first creative-writing-with-academic-flavour post, support and enjoy!

audio-post: 

1

 ‘I just had a whole lot of luck’

Whilst I am sitting here writing this first post for Researchista, various dark thoughts run through my mind. Did I bite off a bigger piece than I can chew? Are people going to think this is a dull piece of text? Can I combine blogging with my PhD work? Self-doubt and critique are a pretty common phenomenon that many of you are familiar with. These feelings are quite normal and adaptive because they make us go the extra mile. They urge us to practice that presentation one more time before getting on stage or to repeat those materials a last time before the test.

A far worse feeling is feeling like a real fraud, feeling like you do not deserve the job/title you currently hold. People afflicted with the ‘imposter syndrome’ are truly convinced that they are frauds in their job and that they just had a lot of luck. These anxious individuals worry that their boss and/or peers will soon discover they are not capable or intelligent after all. Once discovered there will be a fall from grace and complete humiliation. There are plenty famous figures that suffer from the imposter syndrome. One of them is UN Women Goodwill ambassador Emma Watson. She admitted feeling like an imposter and stated that she could never meet the expectations the public has from her.

When digging into the plenty of popular science articles and YouTube videos on imposter syndrome, I came across a video lecture from Chris Lema. His definition of imposter syndrome speaks to me: imposter syndrome is the inability to internalize success. It is the inability to respond to an accomplishment with the feeling ‘I did that’. It is the person immediately diminishing his/her efforts when receiving a compliment: ‘Oh that was just luck’ and ‘Oh I have great colleagues’. I like Lema’s definition a lot because it accounts for the paradox that is the imposter syndrome: the ones feeling like a fraud are often immensely successful at the same time. I would dare to say that having success but not internalizing it, not owning it, is the same as not experiencing success at all …. ?

Many blogs and opinion articles claim that imposter syndrome is rampant throughout academia. When looking in my personal circle of academic colleagues, I tend to agree with such statements. Of course the syndrome is not exclusive to academia, but what makes academia such a fertile ground for the development of fraudulent feelings? Here are a few potential reasons:

Academia is a competitive There is a limited amount of grants, tenure positions, etc. You are competing with peers for the same position. Comparing yourself to peers is thus inevitable, especially when you know that admission committees will compare you directly either way. When we observe our peers, we see a ‘filtered picture’. Just like on Instagram, we see our peers publishing articles, shining on a stage when presenting, etc. What we do not see is the behind- the-scenes grind of last minute work, procrastination, failure and emotional turmoil. No wonder we feel like an imposter when we experience all the flaws that we do not see in our peers.

1. Academia has a clear hierarchical structure with the tenured professor on top, followed by non-tenured assistant professors, postdocs and graduate students. Because of the clear division between positions, it somehow seems that you need to be ‘a lot smarter’ to move one step up. The process can be perceived as non-gradual and therefore employees might feel like an imposter when taking on a new position.

2. In addition there is also a ‘timing issue’ because of expectations from our environment (and also from ourselves) arise: A PhD should finish in 3/4 years. A postdoc should roll out a few first-author papers a year. Certain grants can only be attained in a certain time frame (x years after getting the PhD). Whenever we fail to meet a ‘deadline’, we feel inadequate and somehow less capable than our colleagues finishing ‘in time’.

3. Academia is a personal strive. Even though researchers are embedded in research labs/ groups, at the end of the day only your work counts. Only the papers that proudly carry your name count. Your teaching evaluation is looked at and your progress is looked at. You cannot hide behind a team. This much responsibility might be too overwhelming to handle for some of us. There is no way that you can handle all of that responsibility.

4. Academia has an ‘elite’ feel to it. Academia still is a bit of an ‘ivory tower’, there is no reality check. I am comparing myself with genius people, and therefore feel stupid. I think it is good to get out of the academic bubble now and then to realize that you have many strengths. It is good to distinguish your personal worth from your researcher’s worth. One has nothing to do with the other, even though it might feel like it.

5. ‘Universitas’ means broadening your knowledge, yet more often universities enable specialization in one field. Because of the specialization, you might feel inadequate when a colleague talks about his research and you do not understand a single word of what he/she is saying. You might feel like an imposter: ‘How did I come so far without studying more biology?! .. what a fraud I am!’. I myself often suffer from the ‘knowing more is knowing less’ phenomenon. When I delve into an undiscovered neuroscience topic I often feel confused and overwhelmed. There are so many articles and studies out there that a seemingly simple paradigm turns into a three-headed dragon.

6. Academia attracts high achievers, and in turn it is known that high-achievers are more prone to the imposter syndrome. These high-achievers might have certain personality traits that predispose them such as perfectionism, anxiety, etc.

Even though imposter syndrome is not an officially recognized disorder in the DSM, there are some real consequences. A study from Gent University found that employees identifying themselves with the imposter syndrome, report to be less likely to volunteer for tasks that are beyond their job description. This adds another layer to the riddle of imposter syndrome: suffering from it doesn’t make you work harder, but perhaps even less hard. So, dear readers, we have to combat the imposter syndrome. The first step, as always, is recognizing one has a problem. Step two is talking about it to a colleague or a friend. Especially friends outside academia might give you some perspective. A small tip that I am practicing daily is this one: Next time you get a compliment, own it. Stop yourself when you feel ‘I had a whole lot of luck’ rolling out of your mouth. Celebrate even the smallest accomplishment. You are pretty awesome 😉

Here you go dear readers, my first-ever blog post for Researchista. Imperfect as it is, it is real, tangible and a proof that I am not a ‘blog imposter’, I just sometimes feel like one.

This text was written on my personal title.

by Laurien Nagels-CounePhD student in Cognitive Neuroscience at FPN, Maastricht University

 

With love for Researchers,

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boring enthusiasm Fashion future health knowledge research

(28) Fashion&Research, part4: your own little Research.

Isn’t it the case that we can all make a change in a our own little ways? Isn’t it the case that we still have the power over our lives and despite many saying “but what can I do” “things work the way they work” or “this is how things work, what do you want?”… “business is business” .. “someone’s got to suffer”, we can in our little own ways make a change, every single day as we rise?

So, fashion, clothes, is a topic that touches us all. Exactly, touching, because if there is nobody to give you a hug, your clothes are there for you every single day. It touches upon most of us, unless you go around naked all the time of course, which is also not an exception, but I guess, clothing and fashion is something that reaches us all to a large extent.

This week, I want to invite you to leave everything we know and learned about how our clothes are made aside (not many wanted to answer to the questions in my poll anyway! :):), so unfortunately, not many things we learned about our each others behaviours) and be a little Researcher for few days! 

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Don’t be afraid, it is not going to bite and most importantly… nobody will know about it!;)

Ok, so what do you need? First, free some space on your hard-drive, ah, just kidding, find some space in your head to think about some things while cleaning your place or walking on the street and think… what is your own clothing-buying clothes-being fashionable behaviour?

Research has many methods, but the first step is to find what is it you need to find out. Is it why you buy too many clothes that you don’t wear? or is it why you do not have style you wish to wear in reality? or is it that you care about the environment and you are not satisfied with how things work in our day in fashion industry?

This is WikiHow, your first-aid tool in how to carry out your little research fashion experiment:

 http://www.wikihow.com/Do-Research

It has pictures of very serious and adult people on it, because Research is a serious business, but maybe my relaxed example below will encourage you to go for it!!

 

*Researchista’s little fashionista research experiment*

The goal of my little Research is to find out: where else can I buy clothes that are eco-friendly, friendly to the environment and respecting fair wages and rights of people? So, now that I know what I need to find out, I started exploring what options I see around me…

Ok, I can also stop buying clothes, but you know how difficult that could be in long-term. Is not that I am growing taller or changing sizes so quickly to need new clothes, but you know how much a colourful new blouse can do to someone in a dark grey day. By no means I want to promote shopping therapy, but sometimes it just really works 🙂 and one more thing. I am sorry, Mark Zuckerberg, I will never survive with similar grey or white t-shirts everyday. I am a woman and I need my colours and diversity in choices.

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The alternatives found from my little Research: 

1) Vintage /or second-hand/

So, here I was, in Bordeaux talking to my friends about Researchista going fashionista. To be clear from the start: we love fashion. We like fancy clothes from the stores, but we also wonder if wearing second-hand clothes or vintage can be a feasible option?

None of us has ever worn anything from a vintage shop, so one time in Maastricht… we got ourselves these unbelievable cheap and nostalgic for 60’s clothes that we proudly wore on the streets of Bordeaux and Arcachon, France. (Ah, I love European Union, with its cheap flights, you can go anywhere you are lucky to go for a very very small price sometimes!)

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We imagined about how women in those times were wearing these clothes, what they were dreaming about and how was it like to live in those times. An (bottom corner, the right lady) was going wild in the shop knowing that her dress is from 1950’s and was having a certain history. AnSo, was loving her synthetic brightly colorful dress (I still think cotton is the way to go), which fits her so well.

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We went on exploring what vintage store Bordeaux has to offer to find to our big surprise, that Bordeaux is a lot about little cute vintage salons. You can see how modern vintage clothes can be and how nicely these can be combined with our every day life!

It proved to be not only a buying clothes alternative, but a great and fun experience with a flavour from various pasts. Thank you, Lionettes!

2) Tailors

But what if I need a working suit or a piece of cloth that I can not find in a vintage store? Or what if I do not like second-hand clothes? Then the tailors is second best solution, according to my Research findings. I could not think about Silvia, who is sewing on this amazing Greek island kids clothes, while having 4 children her own 😀 A lot of inspiration, hey! 🙂

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https://www.facebook.com/Silvia-Kids-Handmade-546287345394729/

Tailors can be found in any city you live and will be there to serve your taste. The only warning that you might consider is that it can take a lot of time.

3) Local brands

The alternative  I came up with is to buy from local producers. These are a sort of tailors, but at a larger scale. Their shops can be extremely cozy and welcoming. You can find there some original pieces of clothes that are produced maybe only 1 time. I love this brand for example, although it is not local to Maastricht where I live, I hope to find its counterpart in NL one day.

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Sweet Paprika 

4) Vegan fashion (coming up)…

 

This was my little Research. What do you need to find out? What did you discover? Let me know below, I am really curious.

Most of all, a little Research can help you find your taste in fashion and your best options

Good luck!

And a little French tune from our trip to Bordeaux here for you

 

With love for Research,

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Academia enthusiasm Environment Fashion future health knowledge research Researcher Special Guest stereotype

(27) Fashion&Research, part 3: wake up your motivation for change!

You can listen to the post here: 

“So, ok, I buy a new piece of cloth (a t-shirt, trousers or a dress) from H&M or Zara for example, because it looks good and has a nice price, BUT I know that if the price is low, it probably comes from less developed countries. The label confirms where my cloth is coming from (“Made in Bangladesh”, “Made in Romania” or the famous “Made in China”). I already know from social media how hard people work there and how bad they could be treated in such environments. Not all of them, but many of them are very badly paid and work in poor conditions, some people even die while making clothes. I also know that big companies have a lot of money to lobby for very small prices to sell more clothes around the world. Moreover, I maybe know that making a new pair of jeans for example requires a lot of water and to be done at a cheap price, the wasted water goes into rivers and pollutes a lot the environment. Oh, wait! Some clothes are not even good for our skin… But… what am I supposed to do? I feel bad for those people working for 1$ a day to feed a 5 children family somewhere in Asia, but I also get my clothes for a good price… I need to go to work looking decent and good, I want to impress my boyfriend or girlfriend. What am I supposed to do to not harm anyone, myself and the planet? Where am I supposed to buy my clothes?” I hope you had this chain-of-thoughts at least once.

Light,

pose,

shoot.

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Researchista

I find that this picture captures very well the intention of a model when posing to advertise clothes or accessories (and by no means I want to insult any fashionista with this bad quality photo!:))).

This is the month of Research in Fashion on Researchista and this topic has been chosen both, because Researchista is inspired from the word fashionista and most importantly, I was impressed by the master thesis of Hasmik Matevosyan (Utrecht Art University, HKU), based on which she had recently published a book on this topic. So, I decided to spread a piece of Research knowledge to inspire you to do something with your master or PhD theses and to actually discuss about your own ‘buying clothes behaviour’ and what is happening in the fashion industry that so many people get hurt and underpaid.

By the way, another fantastic example of a thesis (not even master level, but bachelor!) is by Maikel Bereens (Maastricht University) the idea of which grew later in a company called Xilloc, that made the world’s first 3D printed titanium skull implant:”What started as a thesis project, emerged to the largest 3D printing company in The Netherlands. Xilloc prints implants, satellite parts and soon bone like material“(in de Volkskrant).

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(Right) Maikel Beerens, http://www.xilloc.com

(Left) Book “Paradigm in Fashion”, author Hasmik Matevosyan.

No worries, if you have not written a thesis, enjoy this reading or simply support those who want to make a difference!

I am exploring what are the current challenges in clothing industry and what alternatives are identified in Research. Of course, there are many Researchers out there who examine this topic, but I only have access to one, so please keep that in mind…(always look for more opinions). Welcome Researchista’s Special Guest of the month: Ms. Hasmik Matevosyan. Here she is:

What is Hasmik is trying to do is to help fashion brands to get to know their target audience to offer them clothes that will be needed and desired. I also help fashion brands produce in an ethical and environmentally way by connected people with each other (ethical factories with brands for example). Last but not least, I help fashion brands make more profit by changing their business model: from the discounts and overproduction model to a model that makes it possible to buy new clothes for the full price, lend high quality clothes for a small sum and to buy the well designed and manufactured clothes with discount when it is offered second hand by the brand.

And if you think, new alternatives are not advantageous for fast fashion brands, our Guest is proving us wrong: This new business model makes it possible to make much more profit which enables brands to invest financial resources into paying fair wages, choosing for clean production processes and choosing for quality production.

I hope this information was useful to you as a consumer or at least gave you hope that at least someone has the same concerns for other people and the environment as much as you do. The model Hasmik suggests is for companies doing fashion, but what you can do for the time being is reflect on your own fashion behaviour, I invite you to join my initiative by filling in this questionnaire. Next week, I will share with you what came out as a result of my reflections on my behaviour towards clothes.

With love for Research,

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P.S. Subscribe your email on my front page to receive weekly emails with a new post every Monday!

*Sneak preview for next Monday*

So, here I was, in Bordeaux talking to my friends about Researchista going fashionista. To be clear from the start: we love fashion.

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to be continued here

 

 

 

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Environment Fashion health passion Photoshoot research Researcher Special Guest stereotype struggle

(24) Fashion & Research: intro.

Browsing through the Fashion Bible – “VOGUE”  just like I would do with a book, I was looking for its introduction. It took me  12 pages of pictures with clothes and accessories to find the compass through a book: the introduction. Ah, fashion, are you only about selling? I don’t believe you! 😉

By the way, before the introduction, in a fashion magazine you will always find an Editor’s Note. Yes, just like in a scientific journal (for example, “Science” or “Elsevier“), fashion magazines have an Editor that is in charge of it all. But, who reads a fashion magazine anyway, if you see so many colourful pictures in it? Only joking, the fashionistas will probably prove me wrong. As of today, Researchista invites you to her Fashion  & Research Month!

New Picture

Why fashion? To some, fashion is an art form. To others, it is almost like a religion. For most people though, fashion is a method of utilizing clothing, accessories and grooming to show or hide something about yourself. Fashion can be an extension of your personality, allowing you to introduce parts of your personality to the world without saying a word“… Fashion is not only about clothing in ourdays, it’s about lifestyle in general. The ads in fashion magazine advice you what bags to wear with what accessories and make-up to match, what events to go and  what places to visit.

Yet, clothing is the backbone still of the entire fashion industry. Designers create,  we buy and we buy, because we want to look and feel good/or to transmit a signal to the rest about ourselves. Ah, finally I understood the “statement bag” expression that I would hear sometimes in Russian, it’s probably about the intention of someone wearing a specific bag to communicate a message to the public about their personality (their character, their seriousness, their coolness, etc.).

Fashion Industry: Behind the fashion curtains, you will find the designers and tailors, who work very hard to create that perfect piece of thing that will match everyone’s tastes.

The Story of Gabriel Chanel, Coco Chanel

Just like in academia and policy, fashion industry has a certain life-cycle (see Figure 1) or more phases from the moment when the clothing exists only as a piece of material (raw material), till the moment the costumer wears it and hopefully takes care of it after it has been used to either reuse or recycling it.

It looks like a perfect cycle, but we are not living during the time of Coco Chanel, now it is much faster to produce and buy more pieces of clothes that look the same. Mass-production of clothes became a norm.

Figure 1. Fashion cycle

FASHIONCYCLE

Source: modevlinder.com

Fashion retailers, otherwise known as “fast fashion” or big brands of clothing where most of us go shopping, unfortunately not always respect ethical conditions for their workers and nor do they always create a healthy environment for the clothing production.

Special Guest: This is the Fashion Month on Researchista. Our Special Guest Hasmik Matevosyan, whom I had the pleasure to meet at TEDxMaastricht, will enlighten us about the ‘dark sides’ of fashion cycle and how you and me and each of us can individually contribute towards a healthy clothing production, good for our environment, for our skin and for our wallet. Here she is flesh and bones (video) giving useful tips on how to wash your clothes to avoid pollution.

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Photo by Kevin Kwee

Hasmik did a lot Research during her masters studies and as a result of it, she published a book in which she came up with a business model by which she aims to change the way fashion industry currently works.

“The first time I got in touch with fashion was when I was a little girl. We were living in Armenia and after the Soviet Union feel apart, mom was earning money by knitting clothes. I saw all the hard work and creativity that went into designing and making a garment. I also saw how the clothes made her clients feel happy and confident. Mom taught me how to knit at the age of six and from that point on I wanted to become a fashion designer so that I could design clothes that contribute to people’s lives, make them happy”. Get to know better Hasmik as of next Monday. See how she could help us to help others to us all in reducing the harm caused to nature and people treated unfair in this area.

Researchista goes Fashionista: Instead of conclusion, I want to share with you a sneaky little story. Now, that it’s summer and nobody’s watching, Researchista is doing a little fashion experiment. Oh no, no, I did not start to sew, unfortunately. Neither I want to mass-produce something for you to wear. Instead… I decided to wear some fancy clothes on the street of this fancy town where I live to feel what is like to be someone doing fashion. Internet went viral recently in number of fashion bloggers, so I came up with my own little fashionista experiment…. voila! Are you a Researcher living in Maastricht? Do you want to join me next time? Leave me your letter at researchistas@gmail.com 🙂

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With love for Research,

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Business definition enthusiasm ignorance knowledge Magic 3 Policy research Researcher Researchista stereotype

(19) Magic 3: Policy – Academia – Business

When I was small, “Sailor Moon” was one of my favourite cartoons, especially when she and her girlfriends gathered in a circle and took out their magic sticks with magic powers from the nature: fire, air, water and earth – to unite their powers and fight the evil… When these elements are apart they have one power, but when combined, they can create effects that could never happen independently. Just like in life, Research is useful, but if not discussed and transmitted further into policy or business, it might just stay there for years, without serving it’s purpose.

Please welcome the Magic 3 (fire, air and water) and the earth (you and me and everyone).

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To avoid confusion, policy is not politics, nor police ;). Policy (or public policy or a policy in an area) is a governmental programme addressed to solve or to take care of a specific sector of public life; for example, energy. In the energy sector, there are people who install the electricity in your building and there are people who pay these people to do this work and there are people who decide how much will the electricity cost this month for all the citizens of a country (and by body, I mean, of course a group of people with a specific role, not the actual human bodies 😉 ). Although it might seem as if they do not talk between them, they all function according to a plan. So, that plan  – is a policy – created by the government with budget and right structure to make sure that area of public life will work.

So, here we are… a bunch of Researcher, each of us representing one of the Magic 3 elements (we are 5, since in Academia we are 2 types of Researchers and 1 is myself (how could I leave my humble self out of the photo-shoot). Am I missing a type of Research? What type? Who?

  • Academia: Experienced Researcher and Early-Stage Researcher
  • Policy
  • 50/50 academia-policy and of course,
  • Business Researcher
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Photo credit: http://www.manorlux.com

So, let us start in order of the order with a small description about each beautiful and precious human you see in this picture:

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Magic 1: Academic Researcher (Experienced Researcher, according to European Commission)

Please welcome the most stylish, elegant, classy man of Maastricht (according to me. I know such labeling is dangerous, but I simply can not help it, this gentleman does not stop being elegant probably every day of the year ).

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Antoine P. Simons, doctorate graduate 2010 at Maastricht University: “As a clinical specialist in the cardiovascular field, working both efficiently and effectively demands up-to-date knowledge that can be derived either from basic research or from clinical trials. Without science, health care could never have reached the level it has today, and which I use to save lives. I either use the knowledge gathered by others, accessible via peer-reviewed publications and at scientific meetings, or by simply investigating myself. Setting up my own research helps me to become a better team member, colleague, teacher, supervisor and clinician in order to help those in need: patients I like to become healthy again!”

Magic 1: Academic Researcher (Early-Stage Researcher, according to European Commission)

Representing probably the closest to Researchista’s heart group of Researcher – PhD fellows, otherwise called, Early-stage Researchers. Say hi to one of the most engaging story-teller I know:

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Ibrahima Sory Kaba, PhD fellow at the United Nations University – MERIT, Maastricht University: “Academic research is to economics what stretchers and legs are to a chair. It helps the discipline to stand on solid and firm grounds. As a Ph.D student in macroeconomics of development, the bulk of my work consists of controlling for potential causalities or building mathematical models, all rooted in a strong body of theory, with the main objective of guiding policy-making. Currently I am halfway of completing my Ph.D before moving on to new challenges. But as of now I am simply enjoying myself with collaborative academic research, weekly seminars and eye-opening teaching experiences.”

Magic 3: Policy Researcher.

As a former PhD at Maastricht University, she never ceased to impress with her talents:Photo-4

Olga J. Skriabikova-Coenen, Researcher at the Regional government of Limburg, South of the Netherlands [doctorate graduate 2014 at Maastricht University]: “I have a PhD in Economics and since two years I work at Limburg regional government. In my role as Strategy research and evaluation advisor I provide critical reflection on proposed research questions, methods and design. The main difference between fundamental research and policy-oriented, or in other terms, applied research is that policy research should ideally provide directly applicable results which can be used to address urgent policy matters. Formulating research questions in such a way that policy-makers receive information that they can use is therefore crucial. Another issue related to applicability is timeliness, since policy-makers need to be able to react quickly and cannot afford waiting for a year or more to plan a policy action. The other side of the coin is that policy research cannot provide the depth, precision and generality of conclusions of fundamental research. Nonetheless, high quality policy research is crucial for adequate planning, design, implementation and evaluation of policies.”

Magic 3: Business Researcher.

Maastricht is simply lucky to have Mark Lewis as it’s inhabitant, a genuine promoter and simply a model to follow when it comes to social equity and solidarity. I am honoured and privileged to be his friend.Photo Mark

Mark Lewis, Business Analyst at APG, Netherlands (one of the largest pension funds in the world): “I think Research is really important for business: ..” Listen here to what Mark has to share with us about the role of Research in his area.

Magic 1 & 2: Academia & Policy Researcher.

Welcome to your humble partner in crime for Research, Irina Burlacu aka Researchista.

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Irina Burlacu, Lecturer at the Center for European Studies at Maastricht University and Researcher (in both academia & policy sector: 50%-50%). She believes in the strong (not yet valorified at its fullest) potential of Research in current societies and economies and wishes to promote this vision at more levels. Read more about it here.

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At the end of every movie, the producers always remain with the pieces that are not included in the movie (the extras). Our producer, the professional photographer Manor Lux, whom I would like to thank very much for his patience and this very beautiful pictures, also had some extras, I believe this is one of it 🙂 The location is the good old “Cafe Zondag“, who let us feel like on a shooting platform (the location was chosen for you, my friends, who left Maastricht long ago).

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With love for Research,

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p.s. A special Magic 3 type of event takes place yearly in Maastricht. If you are part of one of the 3 elements, subscribe on their web-page or require information from the organizing group, as the following step is to create an app in the area of circular economy that would match partners from business-academia-policy, powerful….

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p.s.2. You understand that most probably I am missing something in this diagram and that the truth is relative (for example, I did not include the international organisation or local communities and non-governmental organisations), but let us assume for now that it is like that.

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(18) Researchista: first 3 months.

Dear Researchista friends,

Our group is increasing and maybe is a good idea to summarise what Researchista is about and what have I been up to since the web-site was launched.

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So, first things first. Researchista is about bringing Research in the mainstream. This is because at the moment, Research is probably not often seen as very hype or trendy, but without it would be no technological, medical or other type of progress. To pay a tribute to that, Research & Researchers on my web-site start with Capital letters 😉

What is Researchista doing? How is it organised?

1. My Facebook page is the dynamic display of Researchista. It’s updated almost everyday of the week and it’s organised in 4 parts:

[BLOG] section is transmitting the same post that is coming out on this web-site every Monday of the week. Also, from time to time, Researchista is inviting and hosting a Special Guest, who knows a lot about a certain topic and can hopefully help in one way or the other. In this sense, I had the privilege to host till now: Dr. Jimmie Leppink on improving writing performance, particularly for PhD students (see: My first paper,  Tips on improving your writing, Writing and Research design, Guest writer preview) and the Health Coach and expert, PhD Danielle Branje on anxiety in professional life (see: “Trust more, stress less“, “Prevention is the key“, “Tips to trick anxiety in your professional life” ).

One day, I hope to introduce you to my PhD supervisor, whose guidance was so valuable and inspiring, and that I hope you will also have the privilege to share some of it as well. But till then: in July, I would like to introduce you to a more laid-back, yet very topical topic, such as: the importance of fashion in our life. Our Special guests, Hasmik Matevosyan , who wrote the book “Paradigm in Fashion”, based on her previous Research, will share her unique model to deal with clothes mass-production and other-related topics. Attention: photos on the streets of beautiful Maastricht are included!

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[PAPER OF THE WEEK] section is coming out every Wednesday (hopefully) and tries to encourage everyone to read academic papers, without fear 🙂

[BOOK OF THE MONTH] is coming out every 1st day of a month and is a recommendation of a book written by Researchers.

[WEEKEND] section is inspired by PhDs life style, who usually work so hard and do not always have a weekend. It tried suggests different ‘feel-good’ ideas, for example:final

2. Www.Researchista.com is a web-site that puts you in closer touch with Researchers’ life. Here, you can find out who can be qualified as a Researchers, how many are we in the world, what types of Researchers exist, these sort of more conceptual questions for you to familiarize better with who we are. On another hand, this blog is addressing various PhD related issues and questions, including: writing performance tips, health, life style, etc. Most importantly, it has the goal to put on the table for discussion.

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3. My Twitter is another useful source that summarises fast and painless what Researchista is up to weekly.

Voila, this is me and all I had to say this time. Enjoy June, they say  – the month of new beginnings! 😉

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With love for Research,

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(14) Writing & no RSI.

Intellectual work demands a lot of energy and effort. Apart from eating a lot of nuts and chocolate for brain, one also needs to be fit to be able to stay long hours in front of the computer. Someone told me once, a PhD student with no particular health problems was so exhausted from writing (typing) that was not able to hold a cup of tea anymore. He had R S I…  find out here what that is. RSI happened to me also, for a while I had no power in my arms/hands at all. I learned later that one of my colleagues even had surgery to both of her wrists and that RSI stays for life.

So, what to do if you have RSI? Do not avoid to ask for help from friends/family at times like this, you might make it worse by forcing your arms and do everything yourself.

Adjust your work station to your body parameters. Every modern institution/company is equipped with ergonomic chairs, etc. By the way, if you work at Maastricht University an entire department is dedicated to such questions. It works a bit like an ambulance, upon request they will visit your station (asap) and explain everything, maybe give you an ergonomic mouse or keyboard. Here is how you can contact them, fast and painless.

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photo credit: internet.

Visit a physio-therapist… First thing I did was to go see a physio-therapist who could unblock the pain in my arms and shoulders. There are so many services in Maastricht, I went to Jasper’s Physio Therapy  and found a really nice doctor, who said smiling that she was having an entire PhD crowd enrolling to her sessions, especially the last year ones.

When you are back on track, join Researchista and Backforward to strengthen those muscles, do sports – the best proven remedy against RSI. One full-year discount voucher to all Researchers in Maastricht and neighbouring areas is offered to you as of today! 😀 Download it here and present it at your first session.

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Certainly “the evil is not so black as it seems”, keep calm and carry on. RSI compared to other issues is probably minuscule, yet is good to know about it and prevent on time, so that you can hold strongly that cup of tea and make that lemonade out of those lemons! 🙂

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Palma-de-Majorca, Spain (2014)

Stay RSI-free!

With love for Researchers, R.

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(13) Writing and RSI (my story)

Ah, PhD life…  So, that’s me and another PhD going to Spain, Palma-de-Majorca. Tasty food, beautiful beach, warm sand and refreshing breeze from the sea.

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This is me and my sister going few months later to Japan, in Tokyo & Yokohama, where I attended a world congress; thousands of researchers gathered there.

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Not too bad.. indeed, I could not complain. The only difficult thing to show in these pictures is that I was not able to do much with my hands. My arms were just hanging attached to my shoulders, but were not very helpful.

It was my last year of PhD. I was so exhausted that I had to take this trip to Spain if I wanted to finish my PhD thesis. My friend was helping me out so that all I had to do, was to relax and restore. Whereas in Japan, I planned to go months beforehand, it was a World Congress which I simply could not miss. Maybe I would have met my future employers there, such events are valuable for future perspectives. My sister was my personal little helper and tourist guide, has been a long trip.

I was fortunate to be able to get away and get better, but there are many PhD students who are not that fortunate, also they or/and are not aware that they struggle with RSI. A PhD, a Post-doc or a Researcher in general is doing a lot of writing (and editing, editing, editing, editing) which in its turn could cause…

Repetitive strain injury  – an injury caused by repetitive tasks, forceful exertions, vibrations, mechanical compression, or sustained or awkward positions.

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What happened next? What is all the fuss about it?… to be continued next Monday!

p.s. Big thanks to all my friends and family who were there for me when needed.