The Braziliaan couple Catarina Jakovac and Andre Braga Junqueira have a dual celebration. On Wednesday the 30th of September, they both received their doctorate at the Wageningen University.
It was a coincidence that both their defences were scheduled on the same day. When they were reserving a time, almost everything was already fully booked so they had to do it on the same day. Andre: ‘At first it was a scary idea. All the deadlines were on the same day, and so there was a lot of pressure in the same house.’
Because the PhD students were constantly in the same stage of their project, they could understand and help each other. Catarina, ‘We were looking at different sides of the same system. We had a lot of discussions in the kitchen, they were very useful for writing the thesis.’ Andre: ‘There were enough moments of tension, but the relief and the party at the end is at least twice as large!’
The couple were already living together in the Amazon region when Andre received a PhD position in Wageningen. Together they moved to the Netherlands, and Catarina applied for a different PhD position. She was accepted, and they could both start around the same time.
We have a common theme: small farmers in the Amazon region. But we are both viewing it from a different perspective. My research was on how farmers use the diversity is soil in their farming systems.’ Andre explains. Catarina: ‘I was researching the same system, but I focussed on the effects of intensification of agriculture on forests and agriculture efficiency.’ Both researchers did a ‘sandwich PhD’. They spend the first and the last year in Wageningen, and they spent the middle two years doing fieldwork in Brazil.’