Earlier this month, Prof. Marianna Tryfonidou held her inaugural lecture as newly appointed Professor of Regenerative Orthopaedics at Utrecht University (see our previous blog). But, who is the person behind this title? Earlier this year, a basic school class received letters with hints on who Marianna is, before she visited them during the Meet the Professor event 2019.
You might know her already as your teacher, supervisor, or colleague… but do you also know what kind of student she has been? What advice she would give to young scientists? Here is your chance to meet the professor!
Hello Marianna! Congratulations on your inauguration! Of all PhD holders, only 3% become professor. Did you expect to be one of them?
I started my journey in the academic world simply based on eagerness to learn. I do not like routine and wish to be challenged. I found this at Utrecht University, a vibrating environment that provides me with more than sufficient challenges, roads to explore and to evolve myself. Later on during my carrier, I realized that there are certain things that you can only address / influence from the position of a professor and that is why I took up the challenge.
What do you think is the best thing about being a professor?
You can be a role model for students, specialists in training, PhD students, Post-Docs… furthermore, I now also carry the responsibility and the ability to contribute to education and research, and patient care from a broader perspective. The modern professor is, in my view, one that is positioned in a network organization and acts like it: you connect people, enable novel ideas, bring consortia together, coordinate towards a successful end.
Looking back at your career so far, what was the most rewarding moment for you?
Hmmm, that is a tough question. Every journey starts with a first step and that is what I have learned at several occasions. If you want / need to evolve, you simply have to make the first step and go for it! I learned to appreciate also the small things, as an academic you need to once in a while stand still, and appreciate what you have achieved.
What did you study, and what kind of student have you been?
I studied Veterinary Medicine in North Greece. I was a hard working student, had a great memory and frustrated quite some of the other students in our group due to that. 😊 I could memorize easily and integrate information in a fast tempo. I finished my studies within the appointed time, enjoyed very much the long summer vacations by traveling to the Greek islands with my backpack, and had fun.
What do you like to do in your free time?
I have to plead guilty, I have not much free time. But when I do, I love to read books, bake sweets with my children, or wander along the beach. I am also really addicted to the one week of skiing each winter! Then, I can challenge myself along the steep slopes and enjoy a relaxed evening by the fireplace.
Do you have any guilty pleasure?
I love Greek sweets (e.g. baklava) and once in a while I need to feed my Greek soul with an ice-cold glass of Tsipuro with Greek music on the background.
Do you have a favorite place in Utrecht?
While doing my PhD, I would spend occasionally the evening at the Ledig Erf, a picturesque location in Utrecht nearby the water. There, I would spend time with good friends and live the moment.
If you could pass on any wisdom to early career researchers, what would you tell them?
An academic career is challenging and demands a lot of your time and dedication. When starting the journey, it is important that you identify peers who can provide you with advise on your career path, CV, and network. Asking timely for feedback, it will help you to be prepared. In any case, consider it also a priority to maintain your balance between work and private life. Work is very often also your hobby. To improve your endurance, it is important to empty your head and undergo defragmentation frequently.
This is a great advice. Thank you, Marianna!