The decision to perform my MSc thesis Plant Sciences at the department of Nematology, was a great one! The open, kind and informal atmosphere really made me feel at ease.
My thesis was a continuation of a study performed by my supervisor Jet Vervoort. I studied the belowground impact of the invasive plant species ‘giant goldenrod’ (Solidago gigantea) on the community composition of soil fungi and fungivorous nematodes. It was determined whether changes within the fungivorous nematode community upon invasion could be related to specific shifts within the soil fungal community. I liked the fact that this thesis was a combination between field work and lab work. We visited several beautiful sites in The Netherlands to collect soil samples. By going into the field myself, I noticed how severe the invasion of Solidago gigantea is. In the lab, I got familiar with qPCR techniques to analyse the samples for the community composition of fungi and fungivorous nematodes. It is very helpful that people within this department pay attention to clear guidance during practical work. Before starting experiments, they make sure that it is clear to you what you have to do and how to do it. If you still have a question, you can ask anyone at any time. Another good thing about this department are the weekly thesis-rings meetings, in which students give each other feedback on their reports. Each student looks at your report from a different perspective and so it is very helpful to obtain their (positive) feedback and recommendations. Although you write your own report in the end, I realised during work discussions and talks with my supervisor that ‘research’ is something you perform together. Moreover, I experienced that it is useful to keep your planning flexible. All the fun I had with the ‘Nema family’ was just as important as finishing my thesis report. During the year there are so many great activities that you can join, such as the Christmas lunch, the BBQ and the ‘Boekel weekend’. Who does not want to go camping, relaxing, swimming, eating, drinking and laughing in Boekel? Thinking back to those activities and the coffee breaks, immediately puts a big smile on my face. To conclude, Nematology is the place to be if you are looking for a place with diverse and challenging research topics, clear and personal guidance, and lots of fun.