“Of course, in my spare time I tried to see as much of Australia I could.”

Hetty Manenschijn, recently graduated from the MSc Molecular Life Sciences. She did an internship at the CSIRO Australian Animal Health Laboratory in Geelong, Australia.

I’ve always wanted to visit the land of the kangaroo. When my thesis supervisor mentioned he knew a research group in Australia that was working on HIV, I took my chances and went for it.

The project

“Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) is well-known for causing AIDS, a disease which results in millions of deaths annually. During my internship I looked into the structure of HIV during the early steps of the infection process, using electron microscopy (EM). Recent findings indicated that the virus structurally reorganises during infection, and my task was to find a way to image this restructuring.”


“It was very interesting to work with such a potentially dangerous virus. I worked in a PC3-level lab, which for example meant I had to wear a special uniform, and take a shower every time I left the lab.”

Sightseeing in Australia

“Of course, in my spare time I tried to see as much of Australia I could. After the internship I bought a train pass and took two months to see a bit more of this fascinating country. High on my bucket list were Uluru (Ayers Rock), and spotting as much of the local wildlife as possible (such as kangaroos, koalas, wallabies, cockatoos, crocs and penguins). However, the absolute highpoint of the trip was diving at the Great Barrier Reef, where I was surrounded by many colourful fish, and even was chased by a curious sea turtle! I loved it!”