Student testimonial

“The experience in New Zealand shaped the way I perform lab work nowadays.”

The internship of Quirijn van Dierendonck took place at the faculty of Science at University of Auckland, New Zealand. The subject was to synthesize a substrate that would block certain enzymes which cause brain tissue to die. This dying of tissue is called apoptosis and takes place during strokes or other moments when the brain is deprived of oxygen

Stunning landscapes and nature seen in movies like the Lord of the Rings, and my love for rugby always made me want to visit New Zealand.

The project

To accomplish the enzyme synthesis, I used organic and peptide chemistry. The substrate, when finished, was going to be used in experiments by other researchers to see if brain damage could be prevented in the event of a stroke or, for instance, diseases like Alzheimer's. Although I already had some experience with working in an Organic Chemistry laboratory, during this project I learned and used many new techniques.

Sightseeing in New Zealand

During the period of my internship, I tried to see as much as possible of the beautiful country of New Zealand. While the vistas of the Bay of Auckland from the windows of my laboratory were already gorgeous, I used many weekends and free days travelling the country, alone or with the new friends I met there. There is still so much wild and untouched nature in New Zealand, it is an absolute joy to even travel there. Places like Lake Taupo, the Bay of Islands and Tongariro National Park (home to Mount Doom) are beautiful and who doesn't love kiwi birds? And to top it off, I even got to see the All Blacks rugby team play live against Ireland! I loved the experience and still enjoy the memories!