Let me tell you about my last year of PhD... already coming to the end! It has been very busy, obviously. That seems to be the normal way to do a PhD if you are listening to all the people that passed by there before. Everything you have been working on during the two first year is merging together, you start to understand everything, to get more and more specialized in your field and finally able to come with so many (good?) ideas to test. But the problem is about time. Time is running out and you also have to write your thesis in parallel. Moreover, compare to other countries, it is now impossible in Italy to get an extension to finish your PhD. You have to submit your thesis at the end of the third year. They changed the law this year actually. It has pros and cons... On one hand it gives a well defined deadline which gives more motivation to finish on time and it avoids supervisors to ask even more and more to their PhD students. On the other hand, sometimes you feel like if you had had few more months you could have done so much more... but does this process have an end? Is it possible to say "I finished my PhD"? I think it is not, there would always be something to do; a thesis is part of a global progress in science and that would hopefully be useful in the coming year to people who will use your results to progress in their work. So, even if at the beginning I was a bit upset about this deadline, I finally think that it is a good thing.

In my case, I have been delayed in my work because of an optical fiber that was still under development. It had never been used before and we had some trouble with the connectorization and protection. It took some time for the company to do the work, time for us to understand what was going wrong, to send it back, to agree on another process, to receive the modified one, to start the new tests....almost a year passed between the moment we ordered it and the moment we started the tests. It was very frustrating but that is also part of a PhD. In the meantime, another point of interest came up during one of the experiment that I was carrying on and we decided to further investigate that aspect of the optical components that we are using. It was not directly linked to my initial project about fibering the optical components, but still of interest for my thesis.

So, most likely the project will not be finished at the end of October but we agreed with my supervisor that I will have the possibility to get a new contract to stay some more time at the laboratory, at least 6 months, to defend the thesis first of all, but also to go further on the project of the PhD and especially to keep working on this fiber. Even if the thesis will have already been submitted.

And after that... I don't know yet, I have many other things to think about these days, I will take a decision later but I would like to stay in the field of gravitational waves detection. It is a very exciting field and a great international collaboration and I had the chance to be greatly integrated in the community. The MSCA scholarship was helping a lot in that way. During the past year I again had great opportunities to travel, and to get to know many people. We had two schools organized by the GraWIToN project, one technical in September 2016 in Hannover and one on project management here in Pisa in November 2016. I also presented my work and the world of research in a more general way to high school students in Belgium in the frame of the Re@ct project. Those outreach sessions are always of interest for students but also for the people presenting. It is always nice to get good feedback and to know that you may have convinced some of the students to intend to start a career in research. However, the most important events I took part in were workshops in Hannover (APPEC Technology in April 2017), in Australia (GWADW in May 2017) and in Glasgow (ET Design Update Workshop in September 2017). They were very good occasions to meet new people, speaking about their project and mine too, and to get new ideas. I could spend lot of time speaking about MSCA, saying how good it is for starting a career in research but I will stop here because now I need to go back on the writing of my thesis.... I have only few weeks left and still a looooooot to do! 

Additional information