A backstage entrance into the world of neuroscience and academia.

From: Neuroscientists, To: Santa Claus

A few late experiments, some more words typed for the publication or the thesis, a couple of fixes on that analysis, turning off the devices in the lab, and finally heading home on Christmas Eve 2020… Many of us did not travel back to our home-countries, everything is special this year. However, we are trying to get the most out of it. A cup of a hot tea or wine, some relaxing music, candlelight, and a strong memory from our childhood…Santa Claus! Funny. Should we write to him? Whatever! Why not?! Everything is weird right now, so let’s get weird, too. We want a small pause from typing neuroscientific terms, we need some magic. We sent letters to Santa. Yes. We did.  We kept some copies for our archive (no backup, no mercy!), wanna read them?

Letter #1

“Dear Santa,

I want to make some wishes: Next year in summer I want to dance on a hot summer night in a park full of awesome people, music, and drinks. As if the night never ends and everyone is just enjoying it without any conflicts and problems. And please without exponentially spreading disease as it is of now. I want to find more activities that give me joy and are also helpful and valuable to many other people. I want to explore different activities and places than I am used to Starting a new life chapter. Ahh and if you are anyway flying around the world: maybe switch on the ‘happiness and love spreading machine’ on the sledge.

If you are too busy anyways. Just tell me. Then I can also take care of my wishes!”

Marcel Brosch – PhD researcher

Letter #2

“Dear Santa,

There are things that do not change and you know I’ll always want new pairs of socks. This year, however, I’d like to ask other things. I would like a down-grade because I am tired of 2.0 meetings, sitting face to a camera, tired of having to decipher pixels to understand a look and tired of having this headset on my head so much that I’m afraid it is going to carve a space around my ears. Bring back 1.0. No pixels, no disconnection, no failures… words and feelings at their best. Something simple, like the pairs of socks, is sometimes the best thing you can ever offer as a present.”

Armand Blondiaux – PhD researcher

Letter #3

“Dear Santa, 

Long time ago, I asked for a pony from you. I was firmly convinced that this animal would fit in the shed of my parents’ garden. And each year, I was going to wish for another animal so I could start my own farm when I grew up. Now, I do own a couple of animals but for different purposes. I am not a farmer, but a scientist-to-be. A little plot twist that occurred over the years. I moved to Magdeburg to start my PhD-career a couple of months ago. Even though I have seen a little here and there, I still have not got to know much about my new city. I, therefore, wish that soon the corona-measures will lift up again, so I can explore MD and join the wonderful events, which are organized by the PhD representatives (I have heard great stories about these events from my colleagues). And not to forget, as you know I like to talk, I also wish that I can go to real-life conferences and expand my network over the coming years. Therefore, my biggest wish is to go back to where we were and put an end to this “new-normal”. 

Ebru Acun – (early) PhD researcher

Letter #4

“Dear Santa,

All I want for Christmas is 

  1. clean data
  2. the covid vaccine asap
  3. A plane ticket to visit family finally for the next holiday season 

You got this — I believe!


Katrina Deane – PhD researcher

Letter #5

“Dear Santa,

Hmm sorry, I haven’t written to you for about 30 years. you know scientists…difficult to convince us. We are really into experiments, data, proofs, and all. However, this year is special. Even scientists need a bit of magic! How does this all come about? #2020 #pandemic. No need to say more. Right? I wish an easier new year. Be clever, please. No need to spend even a single cent. Just give us resilience and energy to overcome the pandemic. Make us focus on how to make our world better with great solidarity! My other wish is to count 1-2-3 and suddenly be with all our beloved people near the beach, hugging tightly and singing loud! Our voices will spread pure love and hope (and not a single virus). 

Ah, please, note something crucial. I wrote ALL our beloved people. Count carefully. Do not dare to forget ANYONE out of this gathering. Seriously, it should not be a huge effort for you because I bet, the majority of letters you get this year may include similar wishes. I’ll be waiting for it under the tree, thanks!”

Marina Zempeltzi – PhD researcher

The idea to write a letter to Santa started as a joke. But, deep inside our heads, we knew that this was a way to reflect, to dream, and to add a perspective to this holiday period. This playful attitude is our tool to overcome our current struggles and to feel connected. Possibly, you have noticed a common pattern in our wishlists. We are kind of sure that your letter/ wishlist may look similar. We are in this together. Let’s hope that ‘Santa’ will do his thing.

The SimpleNeuro team

@Leibniz Institute for Neurobiology, Magdeburg- Germany