What do you like about the programme/specialisation and why?
What I like about Microbiology is that we can focus in our studies on what we like. Some students like Environmental Microbiology and others, like me, like Medical Microbiology more. I also really like that two internships are included in the master's program because this way I can specialize in the field that I like, and learn of researchers of different institutes in the Netherlands or any part of the world who I can have projects with and who can supervise my work. The specialization has challenged me in using English as a primary language. I am from Panama and I have a Bachelor's degree in Medical Technology which I studied in Spanish. Therefore, communicating in English and doing oral exams and presentations in this language was challenging, but possible. It was one of the reasons I decided to follow this Master's programme at Radboud University as well.
What do you think about the atmosphere in class?
The atmosphere in the classroom was beyond my expectations. You meet people from all around the world. For instance, I became friends with classmates from Nepal, Spain, India, Iran, and the Netherlands. The relationship with teachers is really good. From the first class on, you get details about how the programme is oriented and you can ask them whatever questions you have without any problem. The same goes for the researchers from Radboud University and Radboudumc. In the end, these relationships really helped me with getting supervisors for my first internship and my review article.
What do you find most challenging in your Master’s specialisation?
Yes, I did. I encountered two challenging situations during the first 6 months of the master's. First, after the compulsory courses, you are recommended to start your first internship. This was difficult for me because I am interested in Medical Microbiology and specifically Virology. I wanted to work with viruses, so difficulty in finding an internship led to a little stress in the beginning. I did not find one at Radboud University or Radboudumc. Concerning this obstacle, I recommend students to start looking for possible internships when they are starting the master's. I suggest sending cover letters and CVs, or even emails to researchers as soon as possible. However, this might not be an obstacle for other students. As I said, starting your first internship immediately is a recommendation and some students decide to take more courses and wait for an internship opportunity, which it is another thing that I like about the master's: its flexibility and how you can adjust it to your two years schedule.
Are you currently doing an internship? Or what is your thesis about?
After all of that experience, I have now two confirmed internships opportunities. I will start my first 6-months internship in the United States about human papillomavirus (HPV) infection and its immunology in March 2020. I also did a Review Article about the actual biomarkers for HPV and its progression from infection to cancer, with the collaboration of the Medical Microbiology Department in the Radboudumc. Moreover, after I get back from the United States in September 2020, I am planning to do my second internship at the Department of Medical Microbiology at the Radboudumc. I will be studying the relationship between the microbiome and HPV carcinogenesis.
Why do you think is it important that there are people out there with this degree?
I think this specialization is important because there is a lot about microbes that we don't know. From bacterias and archaea in the deep ocean to fungi causing diseases, and viruses outbreaks around the world. We need to be prepared and try to clarify how these microorganisms can be useful and harmful to humanity. After I get my master's degree, I would like to start a PhD programme at the Radboudumc, Nijmegen. I really like the institute, the city, the culture, and the country. I hope that everything goes fine and I get the opportunity to continue my studies here in the Netherlands.