Many colleagues are currently working in their home offices. During the corona break we shift the “floor conversations” into the digital world. Today we ask Ivona Kafedjiska. She is a doctoral researcher at PVcomB. She works on tandem solar cells in the HySPRINT laboratory and in the CISSY-Lab. She is also one of the doctoral representatives (speakers for) of the HZB PhD network.

How do you spend your day?

Right now I am in the kitchen doing this Skype interview. But actually I work at my desk in the bedroom. In the evening I read or do some art, but we also often do puzzles, huge puzzles, with 1000 or 2000 pieces, and we forget everything else. And sometimes I write a post for my blog, where I can express my thoughts.

Do you worry a lot right now?

Of course I worry, for example about my family in Macedonia.. My grandma told me on the phone that she hasn’t been that scared since World War II. I, on the one hand, feel very privileged, because I have a secure income during a time when many people are losing their jobs. But, on the other hand, for us doctoral researchers, the closure of the laboratories is a big problem. We have a whatsapp group and I also know from the others who are not in the writing phase that they are all under pressure. We have to experiment, get new results so we can finish our doctoral thesis.

What can you do instead of experiments?

I’m trying to look on the bright side and use this time as productively as I can. Staying at home does not have to mean stagnation. I am in the second year of my doctorate and I am already writing down my previous results and delving into the literature. Additionaly, I hope to use this time to improve my programming skills. This is something very useful that I have always wanted to do. Now I do it.

Do you have any advice for your colleagues?

Oh, yes, actually, I do. My advice to the other doctoral researchers is: it is okay if you are less productive than usual and if you struggle during these times. But, when you reach a plateau – please make sure you get in touch with your supervisors, with colleagues you trust. Ask for advice, communicate. And I would ask the supervisors not to be too strict now, not to be judgemental, or too negative if the student is stuck somehow. We are all in this strange situation, and it would be nice if you offer us some more support. I try to do this and the ideas, support, and encouragement from my team and especially my supervisor Dr. Iver Lauermann really help me stay focused and motivated. I am so thankful for the understanding; it offers me kind of a consolation during these times.

And what are you looking forward to?

My sister has baby twins and they’re gonna have their first birthday in April. The whole family had planned to come to the birthday party, but that’s not possible right now. I hope to see them healthy and well as soon as possible. And I am really looking forward to going back to the lab and making new solar cells. Climate change needs solutions too.

Ivona is a blogger and very active on twitter as well. In her blog “Jungle Dancer” she shares her thoughts on science, life and everything between.