Making decisions about which paths to take in life is for all of us a constant challenge, especially when it comes to making a choice about which career steps to take. Before I joined the PolarNet PhD program, I worked in Germany at a company as a research associate. Because of the determined hierarchical structure, there were hardly any opportunities given to develop further concerning the personal development and responsibility to take. Hence, soon I came to realize that this position will not allow me to grow into a level I was aiming to achieve. I was so determined to have the freedom of research, including the possibilities to freely investigate evolving questions and to develop and broaden my horizons. I definitely didn’t want to end up like a ‘pipetting monkey’ following the everyday routine not allowing any space for creativity. So, it was definitely time to move on.
Not having any insecurities to move countries and start a new life, including adapting yourself to the new situation and making new friends, I applied for this prestigious PhD program of the PolarNet and got luckily the chance to go to Utrecht in the Netherlands. Very soon I felt comfortable in this lovely country and got to know the open and friendly Dutch culture. The people work hard but also play hard. As soon as the typical rainy weather stops and the sun is shining it is not a shame to go outside and enjoy life by e.g. going on a cycling tour, or having a coffee in the city center.
I really like the open, friendly, and dynamicworking atmosphere in the research group of Paul van Bergen en Henegouwen. My PhD project is about to develop a nanobody that is supposed to cross the blood brain barrier viatranscytosis targeting selectively a receptor presented on the surface of brain endothelial cells. I am very excited to work on this topic, since it is applied science with a high clinical relevance. My everyday life in the lab is anything but routine, which definitely fulfills what I missed before.
Since I moved here, I developed my personality as well as gained a lot knowledge in the scientific field. I am very grateful for that. This situation is actually comparable to the fate of a cell. Many external factors integrated together determine the maturation to a fully functioning cell within a tissue forming a life sustaining organ being part of a functional body system :).