PE&RC in the Spotlight: Fangbin Hou

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Every month we put a PE&RC member in the spotlight. This month we are getting to know Fangbin Hou. Fangbin is a PhD Candidate at IBED, and she works on the role of drought-induced changes in root exudates in soil Carbon cycling 

What should all 1st year PhD candidates know?
I think communication is one of the most important things for the 1st year PhD candidates. Due to the international nature of the university, language, culture, and limited contract periods can be barriers, but communication between supervisors, colleagues, and access to information can quickly help 1st year PhD candidates on the right track.

Do you prefer fieldwork, lab work, literature research or writing?
I prefer writing. It also indirectly shows that I also like fieldwork, lab work and literature research, because writing is a second discovery of these steps. I like to have all the experimental details unfolded in front of me and then put all the details back into a more logical place like a Lego puzzle. From my limited experience, it is difficult, but it feels great.

What do you currently do to de-stress?
Apart from weekend trips with friends, I do Pilates regularly during the week. Half an hour of Pilates gets me sweating and stretching. I can transition from work to life mode and it is my de-stressed way.

What is a good book you’ve read recently?
A good book I read recently is Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead co-written by business executive Sheryl Sandberg and media writer Nell Scovell. I read this book on the plane to Florence and back. This book is readable, and I like Sandberg’s narrative style. She cited a great deal of her personal experience, discussed problems women encounter in their workplace and life, and gave great practical advice about challenges of gender equality, work-life balance, self-realization, etc.

What is the coolest place you’ve travelled to?
I once went to Harbin (45.7567° N, 126.6424° E), which is the capital of Heilongjiang province. I went there in January because that's the coldest and most glamorous time of the year. Visiting the Ice and Snow World and Saint Sophia's Church are the best programs to enjoy the romance of winter and artificial architecture. By the way, I think local ice cream and candied haws are really standards for this kind of romance.