I have counted at least 13 moving ins and outs in my life! And this goes for a really proper change of flats to which I could add endless alterations of college rooms during my PhD studies in Cambridge, or short-term rentals during research and lab visits to Europe, and the US throughout my career. I suppose, I have practiced this pack-your-bags-and-get-going-thing a lot, but this year has an extra special flavour to add to my list of moving-ins and -ons.
We are moving into our very own brand new Archemy research group lab this year! A dedicated laboratory is something that defines an active and lively research unit for me. A group of enthusiastic people really loving the subject and evaluating the truly collaborative team-work, a cool lab/group name, customized room set-up, all the necessary equipment in one place making the sample preparation work smooth and convenient, our own labelled pipettes, vial boxes, evaporator needles, etc. so we don’t have to share or care about modern contamination, built-in chemical storage cupboards – tick, tick, tick (!), this is a dream come true! Also, one should not underestimate the emotional value a change like this has for the mentality of the whole group: our very own room, possibility to come and work together on similar things, discuss the specific research problems like organic preservation and sophisticated sampling strategy crucial for the analysis of ancient material – this is a glue that binds us together, providing another common denominator for a team, allowing to talk in terms of “we” and “us”.
Of course, as it goes for 2020 in general – it has not been easy. However, despite the COVID-19 imposed delays, some normal and expected resistance to the idea of change (think about cleaning your fridge or deepest corners of the bathroom cupboard), lots of time and labour invested by our team and colleagues, we are happy to announce: The Archemy lab is open! You can find us at Chemicum, Ravila 14A. We have done the move in, now let’s move on!
Ester Oras is a senior researcher in analytical chemistry and archaeology. Her main field of research is biomolecular archaeology, particularly ancient dietary reconstructions and interrelations between health and dietary practices. Ester is the head of the newly established Archemy research group at the University of Tartu.