My name is Ina Sauerland and during the course “Immunotechnology” I came into contact with the topic of excretory/secretory proteins of parasitic nematodes. I learned of their therapeutic potential with regards to the treatment of allergies and inflammatory diseases. Since I had been looking for a project related to the medical field for my master thesis, and I have been fascinated by this topic, I decided to do a project at the Laboratory of Nematology.
For my master thesis project at Nematology I studied a protein derived from the human parasite Brugis malayi. In order to explore its potential targets and mechanism of action, I acquired knowledge about a whole set of techniques, starting with the plant-based expression of the target and a control protein. Other methods I worked with were cloning, mammalian cell cultivation, Co-IP, flow-cytometry, and confocal microscopy, just to name some of the major laboratory techniques I have learned.
During a proposal phase I had time to familiarize myself with the theoretical background of my topic and to plan the experimental setup of my project. Once I started with the lab work, I learned both many practical and organizational skills necessary for becoming an independent young scientist over time. In work discussion meetings I had the opportunity to present my work to others and get feedback and new stimuli for continuing and improving my project. Joining thesis ring sessions, in which students gave each other feedback on parts of their report, supported the written part of my thesis. To put it in a nutshell: Nematology provides a learning friendly environment with room for self-development.
In all phases of my project I was challenged to come up with solutions and ideas myself, but I always received supportive/constructive feedback and hints whenever I was confronted with an issue I could not directly solve myself. This forced me to show commitment and creativity while also teaching me to be critical about my ideas and results. By having to rely on feedback and hints instead of being provided with solutions, I learned how to come up with strategies to solve similar issues myself the next time they occurred. This supported my development towards independence.
Apart from the scientific aspect, there was always time for non-scientific discussions, fun, and celebrations of (special) events like birthdays or achievements. Learning and fun go hand in hand at Nematology and although I am a student, I felt welcome from the very first day. Therefore, I experienced my time at Nematology as one of the most inspirational periods in my life. Thank you, Nematology.