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Eystein Opsahl - My first experiences at The National IOR Centre of Norway!

Finally, here we are! Just in recent times, the Norwegian IOR Centre of Norway was awarded to the University of Stavanger. These days, the very first PhDs of the centre are enrolling and assuming starting positions for their time of their lives (or so I’ve been told), myself included.

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    My first lecture ever selfie
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    My chemical store
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    My minions, Oxitops

Sentimentally speaking, it honors me greatly that the professionals of the IOR Centre has chosen to put me at the front of the continuing Norwegian oil fairy tale, which is still very much alive in spite of the  hardships the industry is currently experiencing.

Being completely new to The National IOR Centre of Norway, it took me some time to actually find it. Confusingly, the IOR Centre is not actually a centre per se; but actually, it’s a multicentre spread between the corridors of the University of Stavanger (UiS), the international research institute of Stavanger (IRIS) and “Instituttet for energiteknikk” (IFE) alongside with even some more collaborators in the private sector. Now it has just become a part of the routine dealing with the lack of immediate availability of my IOR Centre colleagues. Fortunately I am not sitting here all by myself at UiS,  I do have a lot of great colleagues in my office whom I share a lot of common interests with and have support in when it comes down to business. Furthermore, my colleagues in the IOR Centre are also a good bunch that I am not seeing as often, albeit, we have had some good times with teambuilding thus far and are going on a two day conference in a fancy spa hotel so I can’t really complain.

The first weeks went on rather slowly, the majority of my days consisted of doing all that administrative stuff you just have to go through. You know, getting my laptop, getting my laptop set up, getting the email running, getting the phone connected to the email, signing all sorts of papers and of course learning to know my way around the systems and people. (Still haven’t got my keyboard yet so shame on whoever is responsible for that.)

Anyhow, the summer proceeded on and all and my normally lively corridor went quiet when literally everyone went away for vacation. This left me with enough time to myself to settle in and read up on IOR which I have limited knowledge about as a guy coming from the world of toxicology (read biology and chemistry).

Finally, the corridor came back alive and the students once again filled the cantina and what not, for me at least it’s such relief to have just something buzzing around when working. Now, with the increased apprehension of the IOR world, I could start looking for equipment and tools I might need before commencing my lab based research. So, after goofing around the internet looking for chemical suppliers, I found some good ones, and this very morning the bulk of it came in. As expected, after some territorial rivalry between the lab dwellers, I was lucky to have a spot in the lab so I have a place to store them.

I feel like I am in a good flow these days. Because, not only did I get my chemicals and all that legal stuff regarding their use in research in order in within a reasonable amount of time, I have also already had my first lectures of my life for the newly admitted bachelor students of my department more or less successfully.

Other than that, I have additionally been assigned as contact person for one of the courses at the Uni with about 500 students, so you should believe that there is some influx of “I am confused” type of messages from the students, I suspect that since they are first year students a lot is very novel to them. So I guess they’re excused.

Just recalling that I haven’t mentioned what I am going to research yet and that maybe I should; I am going to research the effects of some IOR chemicals on the environment, primarily polymers (really very large molecules), that may end up in the ocean and possibly distort the circle of life. Which we don’t want to happen since it always comes back to us in the end. One of the ways I will investigate this is by measuring the rate of biodegradation with the help of the “Minions” or “Oxitops” as they are really called (picture), they work by continually measuring the amount of oxygen that is present in a sample vial as the bacteria eat up and combust the unnatural polymers.

At the end, I could mention that my schedule has never been so tight at any point in time before so it’s exciting to see how that is going to turn out, exams coming, lectures to be held, conferences to attend to, manual labor in the lab etc.. , albeit it is very fun being a PhD thus far and I am thouroughly enjoying every day as it comes and the lifestyle that follows.

 

Until next time.

Eystein Opsahl

Me and my lab bench'ish

Me and my lab bench'ish