Looking for a thesis topic is sometimes challenging for students. I remember when I embarked to look for a thesis topic I tried to make contacts with professors but responses seemed rare to come. However, when I made contact with a professor at the Nematology department I got a response very fast. Very welcoming and understanding.
We started the process of looking for a thesis topic but to cut the long story short we agreed I will work to classify parasitic nematodes based on their rDNA. I worked under the supervision of Hans Helder and Paula Harkes. The most fascinating thing to me was I had to formulate everything on my own, look for the protocols, optimize them and test them and also look where I will collect the samples. Well, it may sound a lot but this gave me freedom and a rare opportunity to explore the field of science. It was an exciting journey to learn new skills in laboratory i.e. qPCR, sequencing to name but a few. In addition, I analyzed the results and make sense of the results I found well under the guidance of my supervisors but it was also great to make a search on my own first. However, it could not have been ‘easy’ had it not been for the conducive working environment at Nematology. Every work group has a work meeting once every week where the experienced researchers and the newbies talk about their work. When challenged to talk about my work often it helped me understand it even better. Another outstanding practice at the Nematology department are the Thesis rings. At the thesis rings, students review each other’s work. It benefited me a lot, first it gave me a feeling of what is done by other students in the departments. Secondly, it gave an experience of a professional reviewer and what it takes to constructive comments on peoples work. The meetings also greatly improved my scientific writing skills, when you see mistakes made by other students and listen to the comments of the supervisors you cannot help but avoid them while writing your piece. I said conducive environment but that is not only limited to research. At the Nematology, I realized there is fun in science; here I am talking of lab-outings, excursions, BBQs and also cakes. For sure choosing to work at the Nematology for my thesis was a good decision and it will be for you too. However, you need to know how to bake a cake.