After finishing her molecular thesis in Copenhagen, Sylvia Drok was up for a completely different kind of research. So she decided to do her internship for her Biology Master's at Wageningen University at NIOO-KNAW, the Dutch Institute for Ecology. “Research on ecology is substantially different from molecular research, after all.”
In her Biology studies Sylvia followed a rather wide range of course subjects, ranging from molecular biology to ecology. “After my molecular thesis, I wanted to focus a bit more on ecological research. So I asked if there was a possibility to do an internship at NIOO-KNAW. They were very excited about the idea there, and I was accepted.”
At NIOO-KNAW, Sylvia conducted research on how plants and specific fungi, so-called Mycorrhiza, cooperate. This symbiosis takes place beneath the surface. The fungus extracts nutrients like phosphate out of the soil and exchanges it with the plant for other components such as carbon. Sylvia investigated the general thought that the symbiosis also influences the plant's defence against herbivores above ground, like caterpillars, which attack the plant. “Thus, I could happily play around with plants and insects”.
The internship at NIOO-KNAW suited Sylvia well. “It’s a really nice place to work. There are a lot of young people, everybody is very interactive, and we would often have a drink or some other activity afterwards. The research itself was fun as well: I’m hoping to find a PhD position on a similar subject, with plants and insects.”