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2020 In Review

2020 in review

2020 did not turn out what I expected it to be, to say the least. There’s been death and grief in my family (husband’s side, but even though we are near, still we couldn’t attend funerals because of the restrictions, which makes grieving surreal), there’s been infections with the virus to worry about, anguish over the physical and mental health of my loved ones and my students, and struggles with the workload associated with emergency online teaching.

Still, I want to keep my tradition on this blog to reflect on the past year. There’s been a lot of canceled plans and money lost or turned into vouchers, and I will try to give an honest overview of the year.

Research and projects

  1. A new PhD candidate and project started under my supervision.
  2. The experiments we were planning to do over the summer will hopefully start in January.
  3. I was planning to stay 9 weeks in Delft with my daughter and had childcare fully sorted out. That did not happen.
  4. I gathered data on the PhD defense. I still need to analyze the data because I am behind on everything.
  5. I worked with international colleagues on a study how the pandemic affected academic parents. Super interesting and a very nice collaboration opportunity in an otherwise bleak year.
  6. Lost the money of one of my grants of this year, as I was supposed to use it to organize a workshop. Project didn’t happen.
  7. No progress on my fatigue research. There’s no money on it, so it is not a priority.
  8. Delivered 2 projects in the spring.
  9. Applied for EU funding for two projects.s 1 is already rejected, the other is under review.
  10. I made some progress on my research related to steel fiber reinforced concrete, but slowly, as the project an out of funds.
  11. Started a new collaboration with a colleague in Delft.

Graduate Students

  1. Switch from my own research to more supervision: 7 MSc students in Delft, 1 MSc student internationally, 3 PhD candidates in Delft, 3 co-supervised internationally
  2. My co-supervised PhD candidate from Colombia came to stay a semester at USFQ – and ended up working from a room 3 km away from my room for most of the time of his exchange.


  1. Olga and I submitted our book about the PhD defense. It’s in review as I write this.
  2. I have a lot of papers in progress. 12 in progress, some half-abandoned in need of a resurrection, and 2 in review.
  3. Publications-wise: 7 papers (journal papers and an editorial) published, 1 accepted and 1 in press.


  1. Co-edited the Special Publication on Torsion for the ACI, and am working in committees on 3 technical documents.
  2. For TRB, we did workshops and webinars on the topic of load testing.
  3. I’m chief review editor for the section on recent research in Belgium and the Netherlands for the May 2021 issue of IABSE’s Structural Engineering International.
  4. Still going strong as the editor in chief of ACI Avances
  5. Experienced virtual conferences.


  1. It took me a lot of time to adopt my courses to the new modality. And I keep changing, as I’m slowly learning what is working and what not.
  2. I was teaching over the summer, which is a double intensity.
  3. I had an extra MEng course over the fall.
  4. Graduated 5 undergraduate thesis students.
  5. Completed the 4 courses of the University Teaching Qualification for the Netherlands, a blended flexible learning course form USFQ, and one on the same topic on Futurelearn.

In general: I worked many more hours than in 2019, but often lower quality because of childcare struggles and general brain fog and fatigue. I will do a future post on the breakdown of hours devoted to different categories, but it’s ugly. I’ve been cutting back on sleep in order not too fall behind too much, and I’m still very much behind. I’ve had very little time off. I’m so tired that I don’t have energy for being a fun mom on the weekend, which crushes my soul.


  1. House construction is not started yet. There’s been some progress.
  2. I was planning a trip to Banos, which I booked and postponed, and to the Amazon, which I never booked.
  3. I wanted to do a yoga retreat, and ended up doing a 1-day virtual retreat, with my daughter underfoot, so it was nice but not the same.
  4. Green juice experiment – drank more for a while, but didn’t notice any different.
  5. Play more cello – I am hard to motivate when there’s no concert to practice for.
  6. More date nights – hard to realize without childcare.
  7. NLP course – I ended up learning other things instead
  8. World cooking project – stalled because I have too many other chores to take care of, and still my house looks like a pigsty.
  9. Run a half marathon – I did this, and ran in 2:22 on my treadmill.

I picked up some new habits during the pandemic:

  1. Daily meditation with headspace
  2. Duolingo daily for learning Swedish
  3. Going for walks to take a break

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