Renée Hermans is a second year student in the master programme Climate Studies. In the autumn of 2011 she did her internship at the University of Manitoba in Winnipeg, Canada. Renée had been in Canada before and really wanted to go there for her internship because she found it such a beautiful country, with its unspoiled nature and great people. During her internship she gained a lot of research experience, especially about greenhouse gasses.
“I wanted to learn more about how to perform research on greenhouse gasses. At the University of Manitoba, I got the opportunity to be part of many different research projects about this topic. I was helping with the practical aspects of the research, but also analysed data and I even went for two weeks to Churchill, a village close to the Arctic Circle, to run a research station. When I had to run the station in Churchill, everything went wrong. One of the instruments could not be switched on and when we arrived at the peat area we discovered that the wind turbine was about to fall. We needed the help of three people to fix the turbine in the pouring rain.''
Renée also had some very special experiences during her stay in Canada. “Churchill is the ‘polar bear capital of the world’ and the research centre where I stayed was located outside the village. I could see polar bears walking around right from my bedroom window, which was amazing! Living in the polar bear capital also meant that I could not go outside without a ‘bear guard’, a man with a big gun who was watching the direct surroundings for polar bears.''
The programme Climate Studies matched the internship well. “In the course Field Training Earth System Science I gained some practical experience in doing research and learned some useful methods that I could apply during my internship. Through my courses, I also learned a lot about the effects of greenhouse gasses, how to measure them and why that is important.” The other way around, Renée’s internship also supported the programme. “I’m currently working on my thesis about the carbon balance of the marsh areas in Groningen, in the north of the Netherlands. I’m using one of the techniques that I learned in Canada.’’
Plans for the future
“The experience I obtained through my internship is very valuable. Especially the research skills are important because I aspire a career in research.’’