The First PhD Trip! Swiss hills, cow bells, and LCA's

I finally had the chance to visit Switzerland for a training course in advanced life cycle assessment (LCA) methods.

December 14 2022

One of the most exciting aspects of the PhD for me was the opportunity to travel for workshops and conferences abroad. In October 2022, I finally had the chance to visit Switzerland for a training course in advanced life cycle assessment (LCA) methods.

Primarily, the motivation for the course was to learn about advanced concepts in LCA that could help with my PhD. It was held in a seminar hotel in the Swiss hills of Grosshöchstetten. It was an intensive workshop-style course. Throughout the week lectures and exercises would be conducted 09:00-12:00, 13:00-18:00, and 20:00-22:00. That’s pretty heavy, but luckily, we had an unlimited supply of food and coffee (lots of coffee) to get us through it.

We covered multiple topics such as the computational structure of LCA, uncertainty propagation and global sensitivity analysis, data packages, prospective LCA, and hybrid LCA. Multiple instructors helped us get through the exercises since there was so much information condensed in such a short space of time. The course ended with a group project where we practiced applying the concepts we learned to a new problem.

While intense, the course was a breath of fresh air for the PhD. I got to take time out of my main line of work and explore new concepts that have given me new ideas. I got to meet some of the researchers whose work I have been building on and discuss future collaborations. I also had the amazing opportunity to meet other like-minded PhD students and share our experiences, including potential future meet-ups in conferences!

And I won’t lie, the real highlight was being out in the Swiss hills surrounded by cow bells – perfect to get out in the morning before the day starts. Overall, I can say it’s very important for PhD students to break apart their routines by investing in opportunities such as these even when it’s not obvious how this may directly benefit the PhD. Often, the benefits can’t be anticipated, but you’ll be pleasantly surprised.

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