25 May 2020

Buddies in challenging times

Image of container ship
Photo: Getty Images

BRIC is running a Buddy Program for postdocs, to facilitate the integration of incoming postdocs. In this voluntary program, BRIC pairs an incoming postdoc to a “buddy” postdoc who is already working at BRIC/Finsen. This is a chance to smoothen the start of the post-doctoral training, kickstart career development and networking, and get an introduction to all the social activities available at BRIC.

On May 18, Cecilia Elisabet Lövkvist (postdoc in Won group) is getting ready for yet another day of working from home. When she arrived in Denmark in February, she imagined a busy spring, working and getting to know her new colleagues at BRIC. However, the corona-pandemic had something else in store, and like the rest of her colleagues she has now been working from home for two months and most interaction with her new colleagues has happened over zoom. Today however, she has a “real meeting” in her calendar as well. Cecilia is meeting her “buddy” Emilie for a lunch break outside BRIC (social distancing included).

Emilie Tresse-Gommeaux and Cecilia Elisabet Lövkvist
From left: Emilie Tresse-Gommeaux (Issazadeh-Navikas Group) & Cecilia Elisabet Lövkvist (Won group)

Assistant professor Emilie Tresse-Gommeaux (Issazadeh-Navikas Group) and Postdoc Cecilia Elisabet Lövkvist (Won group) have both signed up for the Buddy Program at BRIC, and they have been buddies since March 2020. Emilie as a buddy and Cecilia as a new BRIC postdoc. We talked to Emilie and Cecilia, and asked them about the Buddy Program, and how they are supporting each other as buddies in these difficult times.

Keeping the ball rolling during lockdown


Going from a busy everyday life, both socially and work related, to an isolated home office can be quite a challenge. Especially if you have just arrived from another country, and have not yet established a network of people to share your situation. Having a buddy to reach out to during the lockdown, have proven to be a valuable advantage for both Cecilia and Emilie:

Negatively, the lockdown affected the program in terms of that we were not allowed to meet. But it also had a positive effect since the lockdown made it even more useful with a buddy. When I was feeling tired of the isolation, having a buddy was really good because then I knew who to reach out to. Emilie is very nice and talking to her cheered me up in the isolation.” – Cecilia Elisabet Lövkvist.

I agree, it is actually a shame the lockdown happened just after the program was created but maybe it shows how supportive such a program can be under difficult situations.” - Emilie Tresse-Gommeaux.

Through the Buddy Program Cecilia and Emilie have kept contact –first by zoom and email, and later by lunch meetings when Emilie was allowed back in the lab. Besides using each other as social support, dealing with the lockdown situation mentally and maintaining motivation working from home, Cecilia and Emilie have used each other to keep the ball rolling in terms of career development, networking and work life:

We discussed all kinds of topics; science career, our experiences from living in many countries and experiences from moving to Denmark.” –Emilie Tresse-Gommeaux.

I managed to move back to Denmark right before the lockdown and I didn’t really have the time to establish a network both at BRIC and re-establish my network outside. As a “dry biologist”, collaborations are really important and I was really looking forward to get to know the different groups and the science at BRIC. Having a buddy from another group really helps to get to know BRIC.” - Cecilia Elisabet Lövkvist.

The aim of the Buddy Program


The Buddy Program aims to smoothen the start of the post-doctoral training at BRIC/Finsen and to strengthen the personal network and interaction between the different research groups and thereby leading to novel collaborations. This is an opportunity for the buddy to share experiences discovered as a postdoc, and a chance to extend personal network. For the new postdoc, having a buddy brings a chance to learn about the structure of BRIC/Finsen, research groups and possibilities at BRIC/Finsen and KU as well as the life in Copenhagen and Denmark. It involves the possibility of participating in social activities, such as sports and parties, simply chatting over coffee, and maybe to get a new friend.

The program is designed to last 6 months, but Cecilia and Emilie plans to stay in touch after the program as well:

Under these circumstances, it was, as said above, very nice to meet someone new and have a fresh view on things, and I hope this will last and extend upon re-opening of the country. Additionally, I think it can only be beneficial for both of us in terms of science and networking, especially as Cecilia is coming from a whole new group, with subject and tools I am not familiar with.” - Emilie Tresse-Gommeaux.

Read more about the Buddy Program and register to participate as a buddy or new postdoc