University of Basel, Research Group Attila Becskei
Why did you apply for the Biozentrum Research Summer?
Studying biology is my second course of studies. I am a primary school teacher and still continue to work as such. Although I enjoy studying very much, from the beginning on it was an important aspect for me to find out in which profession I would like to work later. So, I wanted to get some hands-on experience as early as possible, to find out in what direction I should head. For an internship in industry, experience is usually a prerequisite. Here, however, the tasks are individually adapted to your level of knowledge. This is really great.
What are you working on?
I work in Attila Becskei’s group in the field of Computational & Systems Biology. We are studying the degradation of RNA molecules and how this changes under different conditions.
What have you learned?
First of all, how to pipette, but also a lot of new techniques. For example, quantitative PCR was something I knew about from lectures but had never really seen how it works. And I also learned how to work with RNA which is much more unstable than DNA or other molecules. And finally, how to analyze the results on the computer. All this was a huge thing for me in the beginning. Everything was new, from the manual work to the theory. A cool experience I had, was to realize that the PhD student I work with, started into our new project with very similar questions despite his much broader background.
Has the coronavirus pandemic affected the internship in any way?
Yes, my supervisor was stuck in Hungary and so others had to jump in and take over. In the lab we have to wear masks and, of course, the program of lectures and events could not take place as originally planned. And due to the coronavirus, we were only four participants. The symposium will be held via Zoom. Each of us has 10 minutes to present their project and then we will go for dinner together with the supervisors and professors, to round up the program.
Although there are only four of you, has some kind of group feeling develop?
Maybe it made it even easier. We quickly established our well functioning WhatsApp group and arranged to go out for lunch and to swim in the Rhine together. This is probably more complicated with 20 participants.
What did you like particularly about the Research Summer?
Connecting and speaking with people who are doing something similar but have different backgrounds and different ideas for the future. Although I had hoped that a direction would crystallize, in fact, the opposite is true. Now even more perspectives have opened up for me (she laughs). But one thing is clear: I definitely want to do the block courses everyone is talking about in the super new Biozentrum building.