Stronger through diversity

29 September 2017

To have world-class creative scientific minds, VIB needs to fish for colleagues from a bigger pool than the relatively small region of Flanders. International recruiting is also key to bringing new expertise to the institute. Thus, over the past 20 years, VIB has been busy attracting talent from across the globe. I am one
of those international recruits, having worked in the UK and US before arriving in Leuven. I have experienced
both sides of the coin, forming an opinion of VIB before I arrived, and now being part of VIB.

Six years on, one thing I am absolutely sure of is the top quality of VIB. Our institute is superb, in many ways better than anything I saw in the US and UK. Does the outside scientific community realize this? My answer is “not really”. Prior to visiting VIB, I had not heard of the institute or considered VIB as somewhere to train or work. This lack of awareness continues, and most often I find myself explaining the “institute” even though colleagues know many of our world-renowned groups. I think everyone at VIB will agree that we deserve prestige and recognition for our hard work and achievements! It may evolve naturally as local and international VIB trainees go out into the world as alumni. I had not met anyone who had trained at VIB to tell me how great this research institute is, but now as VIB matures, this is changing as well. There are also questions for the institute to further consider, including the fact that internationalization is predominantly taking place at the level of trainees in individual centers, while fewer international voices work centrally or at managerial levels.

With this international issue of VIB news, I hope everyone will consider the hard work put in by VIB to be a place where international coworkers can easily perform at their top level and feel just as much a part of VIB as local recruits. I believe it does Flanders proud to have recruited us and brought us together, and it’s impressive to be working each day alongside people from so many different backgrounds, with so many different perspectives.

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Rose Goodchild, VIB-KU Leuven Center for Brain & Disease Research
©VIB-Ine Dehandschutter