Kathrin Zweers (K) and Harald van der Werff (H) both spend a lot of time in and around ITC’s GeoScience Laboratory (GSL). Lab technician Kathrin is responsible for the chemical part of the facilities, whereas associate professor Harald uses the GSL to link what he sees from satellites to the reality of field samples. To this duo moving to Langezijds also means moving to a new lab.
How do the new facilities differ from the current ones?
K: “In the chemical laboratory we now have five different rooms next to each other, and in each room there is a different instrument. This means that I spend quite a bit of time walking from one place to another. In the new lab, everything will be in one room, which is a lot more practical. H: “In the current situation we are able to perform classical chemical analysis, use optical methods and finally make the connection with satellite images. That combination is quite unique. Our starting point for the new facilities was to at least retain the possibilities that we now have. I think that worked out very well. We were even able to make improvements in some areas.”
Will the entire lab on Langezijds be brand new?
K: “We try to reuse things wherever possible. Still, we will get new furniture as well. For instance, in the chemical lab I will have two large central tables with connections for gas, electricity and compressed air. In the current lab those things are pretty much dispersed amongst the separate areas. The new furniture also gives the lab a more professional look. I think that counts too, especially considering the guided tours I often give. H: “Our current equipment will mostly be moved to the new location. This is made easier by how we have anticipated the move in recent years. If something had to be replaced, we checked whether it could be moved and whether it matched what is being used elsewhere on campus.”
What is the main advantage of the new lab?
H: “Everything will be more together, so we will be seeing more of each other. Scientists often work in island-like isolation, but the lab is where researchers from all our departments go from time to time. If they meet in one single room, there will be more interaction and collaboration, which could ultimately result in a more integrated approach to research as well. What’s more, the spaces in our new location are literally transparent. Anyone can see inside without entering the lab.”
Do you see any practical benefits in being on campus?
K. “Certainly, it will be easier to communicate with other faculties and colleagues. We will no longer be restricted to e-mail. Also, orders will arrive faster, because we will be much closer to the campus depot. In the current situation, deliveries from the depot to ITC are made once or twice a week. That can be troublesome, especially when it comes to things you desperately need. On Langezijds the depot will be within convenient walking distance.”
What are you looking forward to most?
H: “I would say the new dynamic that the move will bring. Not everyone likes the prospect of having to share a room, for example, but I think it also opens up new possibilities. We will all be more aware of what's going on and what people are doing.” K: “I absolutely agree with that. What I also look forward to is becoming more involved with the UT at large. When I now visit events like the opening and closing of the academic year, I can’t help but feel a bit left out. Being on campus will undoubtedly change that.”