Alumnus testimonial

Barbara Terlouw – Alumni MSc Bioinformatics and PhD candidate

During my master I absolutely loved the programming courses, such as Programming in Python and Algorithms in Bioinformatics. Therefore for my PhD I decided to stay in the bioinformatics field and I am very happy about this choice since it allows me to be creative and take my own research direction.

I think it's so much more important that you have studied something rather than what you've studied. And if you have the opportunity to do something cool in a cool place, go for it. And don't be too afraid that your future is going to be completely ruined because you made the wrong decision.

Could you give a little brief introduction about your background?

"After my Bachelor in Biochemistry where I did a minor in Molecular Genetics, I decided to deepen my knowledge with a master in Bioinformatics. I particularly choose this master because at the moment we generate a lot of data in the lab and we need the tools to analyse it and the bioinformatics master at WUR seemed the perfect way to learn it. After completing the master I then realized that actually I prefer bioinformatics to Molecular Genetics. What I liked most about this Master is that the staff is amazing, very knowledgeable and put a lot of time and effort in their courses."

What is your current job?

"Now I am pursuing a PhD in the chair group of Bioinformatics here at WUR. This is something that I always wanted to do even though I have never really thought of bioinformatics before because I was seeing myself more being in the lab. In my PhD I am in the field of antibiotics. In specific I am looking at biosynthetic gene clusters. These are able to produce a range of specialized compounds that have a wide variety of functions that could be an antibiotic, anti-cancer or something else. I think this is the job that best suits me, since I have a lot of freedom to decide my own research direction, which I think is one of the best part of doing a PhD."

What is your recommendation for someone that would like to do PhD after the master?

"I think what is really nice about the program is that it gives you the possibility to discover what you like to do. In the internship you have the choice already to go more towards the industry or more to towards the academia and see which you like best. In general, my best tip that I would like to share is, to go to the research group/company and ask about their working style. See if that's something that works for you. However also, don't be discouraged if you don't get a project. It doesn't mean that you are not a good scientist. Or that you can’t do PhD, it is just that sometimes it takes time and that's ok."

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