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Sara Van Overmeire

Advisor at Flanders Innovation & Entrepreneurship (VLAIO)

Sara Van Overmeire (Belgium) evaluates Research & Development projects for the Flemish Government (VLAIO).

"When I visited VUB during one of the open campus days, the open culture and atmosphere on the campus really appealed to me and so my choice was quickly made. It was also practical because I wanted to do my bachelor’s degree in the neighbourhood of my hometown. During my bachelor, my interest in physics grew and when I learnt more about the photonics program, I decided to stay for a master and later on a PhD in photonics at VUB as well. I chose photonics because of my fascination for physics and mathematics. Those two nicely combine in photonics, which then opens up a variety of applications."

"Being at B-PHOT, it was hard work, which challenged me with respect to independence, persistence and creativity. It pushed me to my limits, but also offered a lot of opportunities to learn and to travel. That was very rewarding! And it was not all about work: I also had a great time together with my fellow PhD students at the Cyclotron in Jette!"

"My time at B-PHOT certainly had an impact on my communication and presentation skills. Thanks to my participation in various outreach activities and EU project events, I learnt to present my work in a structured and clear way, even in layman’s terms. I am convinced that this is crucial in any job you can do as an engineer. Besides that, the more general VUB values such as curiosity, an open view and respect, also stay with me. And last but not least, I learnt the value of good catering at events (laughs)."

"As a PhD has ups but certainly also a lot of downs, it is important to know that your results, even if they are not high impact material, are valuable for the group and for your colleagues. For me, that was hard at a certain point. On the other hand, I think this is also something that is not always easy to convey to a young and impatient PhD student and that he/she also needs to grow in the topic and in the ability to ‘see the bigger picture’."