Takeaways from a European research stay

Charles Brunette shares from lessons the Research Internship and Visiting Fellowship program

In April 2019, MEOPAR put out an open call for its Research Internship and Visiting Fellowship funding, which enables highly qualified personnel to build national and international connections that will strengthen their research careers inside and outside of academia. Throughout the year, 12 trainees from five institutions were granted this funding—including McGill University PhD student Charles Brunette.  

In January 2020, he set off on his European research stay, with stops planned at the Centre Européen de Recherche et de Formation Avancéeen Calcu Scientifique’s 

(CERFACS) Climate and Climate Change Modelling Group (GLOBC) in Toulouse, France and the Institute for Environmental Physics (IUP) in Bremen, Germany. Though his five-month trip was cut short due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Brunette built connections, attended seminars and received valuable feedback on his work during his stay.  

“Just wading in that pool of researchers—especially in Toulouse, in France, it’s amazing the concentration of research centres about climate, climate modeling, climate research,” says Brunette, who studies seasonal and regional predictions of sea ice in the Arctic Ocean. “Being there was very beneficial for knowing what was going on in Europe, knowing what kind of research is being done and bringing that back here. I’m nearing the end of my PhD and moving forward, I want to stay in research, and it motivates me to continue.” 

"...there's a new door opening, let's just go in and see what's there.”

The networking piece was the main goal for Brunette—who aimed to grow his relationships with researchers in Germany and build new ones in France—but an unexpected takeaway for his professional development was the ability to react and adjust. 

“This trip was sort of an extreme case of, well, you have to adapt to whatever you need. And that was obviously COVID,” he says of his quick decision to return to Montreal in March. “But it was also fun things. Two weeks into the trip, I got the invitation from MEOPAR to go to Brussels to participate in the All-Atlantic Ocean Research Forum and that was amazing. That was not in my initial plan, but I thought, there’s a new door opening, let’s just go in and see what’s there.