Two weeks ago, I successfully defended my PhD. Four years of diving into literature, making Excel models and writing papers have come to an end. In my PhD I integrated two methods, being Life Cycle Assessment to calculate the environmental impacts and Techno-Economic Assessment (TEA) to calculate the economic profitability of new technologies. This integrated method was baptized as the Environmental Techno-Economic Assessment (ETEA). With ETEA, the parameters which have the most influence on the environmental impacts and the economic profitability can be identified. This leads to important information for technology developers. As a new technology, I assessed the economic and environmental potential of microalgal-based biorefineries.
However, I don’t want to talk here only about the content of my PhD, but also about the content of my PhD life. I consider my PhD as an internship into research. Four years to work on a research project, four years to develop your own insights, four years to obtain a critical view at the current-state-of-art. A PhD gives a lot of freedom but also a lot of pressure. Research shows that the mental health of PhD students is quite sensitive. As a PhD student, you may be called a student, but I never considered myself a student. A student does not work more than 40 hours, does not have to start each morning and does not work in weekends either. And a student does not get paid. My PhD life is almost turning into a memory, but it will be a good one. I wish all the best to the environmental economics group which I will be leaving soon. And to all PhD students, who sometimes might struggle, there is a light at the end of the PhD period. And a party as well.