Yes electric fuel is coming, but 100% electric powered vehicles is not possible because it will put too much pressure on the grid and where do you expect that electricity to come from, how will you manage the charge points at peak times so everyone is powered and the grid doesn’t collapse? In the USA, they use a lot of coal to produce their electricity so if just the USA were to move to all electric vehicles they would actually increase the emissions for the power production there.

I think it is getting better, people are coming around, politicians are coming around and they are seeing the issues more clearly and it is not something that they can delay or ignore. It is unlikely there will be drastic changes in the near future, but I am sure there will be more options available for every application, replacing fossil fuels with something much better in the future.

Importance of BRISK

This why BRISK2 is important, it has many people studying many alternatives, because we will need many alternative solutions to replace fossil fuels in the long term. One of the other benefits of BRISK2 over BRISK1 is that it includes a greater variety of diverse pathways for production of biofuels; and, it is only concerned with second and third generation biofuels. Thus, removing the conflict of interest with food production. We will help to create several different pathways to produce one specific fuel and it depends on the economy, the resources and the situation as to which one is most beneficial at any given time.

These facilities are incredibly expensive; it is not possible for one institution to have all the equipment necessary to study bio-fuel development or production. BRISK2 provides the opportunity for a person who is studying or conducting research in Sweden to use the facilities in the United Kingdom.

Broader than that BRISK2 helps to bring researchers out of their isolation. It creates opportunities to create relationships and networks throughout Europe. Though first time applicants will take precedence, there is no limit to the amount of BRISK2 trips a person can take. Furthermore, BRISK2 is unique because residents from non-EU / Horizon 2020 countries were welcome to apply. With applications accepted from South Africa, India and China to name a few examples from the top of my head. Wider and stronger networks are incredibly important because it enables us to integrate these technologies more efficiently and educate the public faster.

The further you go in higher education the fewer people you have around in your network who understand and can support your area of research. From undergrad lecture halls of 100’s, PhD students / early career researchers are often required to relocate to specific venues that can support this level of study. Therefore, it is important that their networks become more global to effective sharing of knowledge, learning and research.

It is easy for researchers to become isolated in their own small networks, which limits the impact their research can have. Therefore, we must continually work to widen these networks as this encourages researchers to improve upon or find new routes into the bio-economy. The majority of our participants are PhD students or have recently completed their PhD. This is the next generation of people who are trying to save our planet and will keep society alive. It is important to provide them with as many resources as possible. BRISK2 has a huge role in that, to help them to reach out to senior researchers.   

Benefits of short-term visits over relocating

I think the time line is the greatest asset. If you are a researcher, when you become settled in a location, it can be better to go somewhere short term and do experiments that are very specific. It is easier to remain intensely focussed, for a short sharp period, on what you want to achieve, meet some new people and add to your network and then return to where is familiar to continue the rest of your research. This way you can achieve a lot without spending a lot of money and time. It is also very beneficial for those who have a family or a tied into long term accommodation contracts.

A relocation for three months creates distinctive pressures; finding accommodation, cultural adjustments and learning the new processes of the facility as you are there too long to be a guest but not long enough to integrate into the culture. In addition, the longer the stay, the more you can lose focus. Therefore, a three-month stay can have a similar impact to a two-week stay for research, but be a greater financial burden and be more emotionally draining.

BRISK2 is short and impactful. Go, do your experiments, learn new skills, add to your network and return to continue your life and research. It is far less disruptive in my point of view. Whilst it is incredibly important to get the qualifications and the experience, you also need the people who can point you in the right direction. Networks are priceless, even though they may not have an immediate benefit.

A lot of focus is placed on your CV; make sure its presentable, appealing and up to date at all times, and that is important. However, in my opinion your network is equally if not more important than your CV. Everyone I know is in their position because of a person or conversation. It is rare that you can acquire a position by CV alone. For BRISK2, a researcher goes on a trip; hopefully they have a great experience and work with some influential educators and researchers. When a position becomes available, the host will remember that researcher and check in with them; see if they are interested in applying. The participant has a greater chance of getting a job in a community they like and an area they have been studying. Their career can begin.