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Testimonial of Gabriele Pumo

University of Basel, Switzerland, Research Group Markus Affolter

Where do you come from and what do you study?
I come from the Ticino, the Italian speaking part of Switzerland, and have just finished my Bachelor of Science in Biology here at the University of Basel. I will now start with my Masters at the Department of of Zoology. 

What are you working on during your internship?
I am working in Markus Affolter’s lab on a project with zebrafish. My lab host, Etienne Schmelzer, is investigating angiogenesis  −  the development of blood vessels by sprouting from pre-existing vessels. Within this interesting process, I am looking at how the lumen is formed. Lumen formation is a key process as it allows blood to flow through the vessels.

And what specifically have you learned during these weeks?
I have learned to work with a model organism, how to put males and females to mate during the night and collect the fertilized eggs. In the morning you have to be pretty quick because they start developing and we have to inject DNA coding for fluorescent proteins to observe  under the microscope how cells behave during the formation of the lumen. I have also learned to do live cell microscopy, to investigate the lumen formation in the blood vessels of the embryo. It’s fascinating. You can make movies to follow the process in vivo as it is happening.

How is it to work in a research group?
It’s very nice. Something I haven’t had the chance to do before. Well, in the beginning, I was maybe a bit scared not knowing anything about lab work and having to ask all these people who work under high pressure. But I was warmly welcomed in the group, have a great teacher and for me it was really stimulating to have my own project, even though it was maybe a little too ambitious for just six weeks.

Would you recommend the Research Summer program?
Of course. I mean, one could argue that there are nicer ways to spend the summer (he laughs). But it is an opportunity to work already as Bachelor in a topnotch institute, which does really cool stuff. It’s a chance to find out if you like lab work, which only few fellow students get. And it’s great that you are payed a stipend. 

Do you meet with the other Research Summer participants?
We see each other quite often at the lectures and apéros and also discuss our respective projects. It’s really a friendly group and tonight we will go on a Rhine cruise with a barbecue dinner. But outside the internship program I do not meet them. To be honest, after a working day in the lab I’m quite tired by the evening (he laughs).