Half a year ago, as a Plant Sciences Bachelor student, I was considering my options for a thesis project. Because I am very interested in plant pathology. I started looking for a thesis subject in this field. However, the most important thing for me was that I would be able to gain experience in practical lab work. As I had been working on a course project at the chair group of nematology before, I already experienced a little bit what this department was like and I knew that the supervision and guidance of students was quite good. So I decided to start looking there for a thesis project. Soon after that I made up my mind about the topic en then I was able to start working on my first-ever thesis project!
During my Bachelor thesis I investigated several features of a certain plant protein. A very interesting thing about this plant protein is that it possibly has a (yet unknown) function during infection of a plant by a plant-parasitic nematode. In order to investigate this protein, I did in vitro studies on plants that I infected with plant parasitic nematodes. I also investigated some of the protein’s genetic aspects, for which I used various bioinformatics tools. I enjoyed working at the chair group of nematology and I really learned a lot about academic writing, lab work and about how to plan, design and perform an experiment. The supervisors and the lab-technicians of the chair group were always willing to help, for instance when I needed to use research techniques that were new to me, or with other laboratory work or writing. At this chair group, they really do their best to provide adequate assistance and guidance to every student. As a result of this, I soon found my way around in the lab and I learned how to perform various types of experiments from experts in these fields. Another thing I found very instructive and inspiring were the so-called "thesis circles", meetings during which a small group of students read and review each other's reports before handing them in to the supervisors. It is a great way to receive feedback on your work from various people who are working on projects similar to yours and on a similar level. I think it was very helpful, because the other students know what kind of obstacles you could meet as often they recently encountered these obstacles themselves. The thesis circles also provided me with a chance to exchange writing tips, ask questions and it allowed me to peek into other people’s research projects as well.I learned a lot, but I also had quite a good time here while working on my thesis! The Nematology group has a very nice atmosphere and although I was "just" a Bachelor student, I was encouraged to get to know the students and employees of the chair group. In summary: during my time at the department of nematology I have experienced what doing scientific research is like and I have learned a lot of useful skills. And I had a great time!