During my bachelor I did a minor on infectious disease. There, I got to know the chair group of Nematology. Having heard some stories from a friend and checked out the subjects I decided to apply for a thesis in the C. elegans group so I could work on neurodegenerative diseases.
No such luck; the places had been filled up to a year ahead. ‘There are still some places with other subjects if you’re interested.’ Geert told me. Meetings were scheduled and a few weeks later I was booked for plant-nematode interactions, something I’d never considered or learned about before. So started a journey of discovery; my subject, its’ background, different kinds of experiments, planning, reporting, statistics, keeping up with my results and finding a balance with normal life. During your first thesis you realise how steep of a learning curve it actually is. The good thing about Nematology is that they guide you in getting to know the, sometimes imposing, world of science. One way or another, ‘How do I deal with this?’ is a daily question. It stresses and challenges you and you’ll always take something away from it.
In terms of practical matters, I really liked the thesis rings and work meetings. They provide feedback and insights and let you contribute to others’ research in the same manner. It’s interesting and kind of gratifying, though I’d prefer work meetings a little later on the day J. I was really happy with the way Amalia (my supervisor) taught and kept tabs on me while still leaving me to make decisions, try things and shape my own project. That balance was really valuable to me.
Another great thing at Nema is the atmosphere. Chatting during breaks, bringing cake for birthdays and ‘interesting’ music in the lab (*cough* Casper) really make it more enjoyable when you’re working your ass off. Sounds sarcastic, but you won’t be nearly as hesitant to ask questions and it gives you a bit of a reload. All in all, I learned a lot and had a really good time. Hopefully that will be the case for others too!