A year of new experiences for visiting Dutch students at the Michael Sars Centre
Over the past ten months, research groups at the Centre welcomed five incredibly enthusiastic and motivated bachelor students from HU University of Applied Sciences, Utrecht for their first internship experience.
Every year, up to 25 guest students from local and international institutions join the Michael Sars Centre through the Michael Sars student training program. Lasting from a couple of months to an entire year, internships provide students with valuable hands-on experience in marine molecular biology and contribute to advancing the Centre's scientific endeavors.
In 2023, five talented Life Sciences students from HU University of Applied Sciences in Utrecht, Netherlands joined the Steinmetz Group, the Burkhardt Group, the Chatzigeorgiou Group, and the Chourrout Group to conduct 10-month projects. For Jens Van Bakel, Rik Schippers, Gerard Steur, Merel Bryant, and Nermana Hergic, the year was rich in scientific discoveries and personal growth. Challenges encountered along the way did not affect the students’ motivation, as Jens Van Bakel explained, “It is hard work, but I felt grateful after a hard day. I was proud of myself for managing without any big mistakes!”
Joining a research group at the Centre is a great opportunity to dive deep into the scientific context of a research project and allocates enough time to become acquainted with diverse experimental approaches. “I learned a lot of new techniques and working with animals was fascinating,” said Rik Schippers.
"They have made great contributions to our science, produced high-quality results and were a constant source of enthusiasm and curiosity. Moreover, interns give our PhD students and postdocs the opportunity to receive training in supervising students, a crucial aspect of their professional growth,” said Group Leader Marios Chatzigeorgiou. For the interns, it was inspiring working alongside a group of dedicated, experienced researchers: “Everyone around me was so smart, I learned a lot in a short time and experienced a lot of personal growth,” said Jens Van Bakel.
Their hard work, dedication, and willingness to learn new techniques have led to the production of exceptional results, according to Group Leader Pawel Burkhardt. “Guest students are valuable team members and actively participate in research activities of our lab. Most importantly they make exciting discoveries.”
The students have not only embraced intellectual challenges at the Centre but also reveled in the beautiful landscapes surrounding Bergen. Merel Bryant expressed her delight at the many opportunities to explore nature in Norway. "It's amazing that people here go hiking so often and are so nature-focused,” she said. “I loved going sampling for animals in the fjord, it was a great combination of fun and work!"
The interns unanimously emphasized the value of embracing diversity and actively seeking out new experiences. Nermana Hergic advises fellow interns to take initiative and explore the world of science beyond their comfort zones: "Be proactive, try new things, and learn from experienced professionals at the Centre. Don’t be afraid to ask for help, everyone is always willing to assist you.”
The welcoming and collaborative environment has encouraged students to pursue further education in Norway. Rik, who intends to pursue a master's in biomedical science at UiB, will be returning next year. "The Michael Sars Centre and Norway together were perfect. It is a really nice place to do your internship. I enjoyed it here so much that I want to come back for my master's."
Interns Merel Bryant, Gerard Steur, Rik Schippers, Jens Van Bakel, and Nermana Hergic from HU University of Applied Sciences in Utrecht, Netherlands.