Universiteit Leiden

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Jasper's day

Jasper Knoester is the dean of the Faculty of Science. How is he doing, what exactly does he do and what does his day look like? In each newsletter, Jasper gives an insight into his life.

Wednesday, 30 August

‘Around half past six, I close the door behind me. I take the tram to Holland Spoor station, where I transfer to the train to Rotterdam. This summer's only trip has finally begun. The destination is Paris, where I will participate in the International Conference on Luminescence. This 3-yearly conference is being held for the 20th time this year. It rotates across the globe and this time with a stop in Europe. I have attended many in my career. The first as a postdoc in Lisbon; I remember well how I looked up to the establishment then. By now I am one of them myself, although I am certainly not the oldest.

From Rotterdam, I whizz by Thalys to Gard du Nord, Paris. On the way, I write the foreword for the Almanac of the Leiden Biologists Club, update my e-mail and approve a large number of Veni applications. I hope for good outcomes for all these ideas. Meanwhile, I realise that the journey from The Hague to the heart of Paris hardly takes longer than a trip to Groningen. Well before lunchtime, I am already at the congress location ParisTech, in the middle of the pleasant Quartier Latin. I get my batch and attend the first lectures.

'Now I know where I will probably be in June 2026.'

Lunch coincides with a working meeting of the International Advisory Committee of which I have been a member for 9 years. Important points include an update of the congress topic list, the composition of the awards committee, development of the number of participants (400 this year), publication of proceedings and, of course, the location for the congress in 2026. For the latter, we decide to accept the offer from our Japanese colleagues to organise it in Kyoto, a beautiful place. So now I know where I will probably be in June 2026.

After lunch, I attend lectures and have a few surprising encounters with colleagues I did not expect to see. That is the nice thing about live conferences: the coincidental conversations with old acquaintances and new acquaintances. At the end of the afternoon, I walk to the hotel with my good friend and collaboration partner Jürgen Köhler, once a postdoc at LION. I check in and we walk around the Nôtre Dame. It is impressive how fast the restoration is progressing after the big fire of 2019.

We find a terrace, call colleague Thomas Basché to join us and the three of us have a great evening, with food, drinks, street music and, of course, lots of talk about our research, how life is going and about the world. It really makes me feel on holiday for a while. By 23.00 hrs, I head back to the hotel. I answer e-mails, make sure all is well at home and read the contractor's report on the progress on our back facade. Around midnight, I call it a day and turn off the lights. It feels only like a stone's throw from home, but it's still a different world. For a few days, that's very pleasant after spending the whole summer in The Hague.’


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