EPFL Lausanne, Switzerland, Research Group Sebastian Hiller
Where are you from and what do you study?
I grew up near Bern. It was clear that I would choose a STEM subject and as I really wanted to study in another city to experience something new, I started Life Sciences Engineering at the EPFL in Lausanne.
Why did you apply for the Research Summer at the Biozentrum?
My studies focus on mathematics, physics and programming. You could say that we look at the cell from an engineer’s perspective, so I was eager to dive moor deeply into biology. And I think it is great that the internships last longer than four weeks, unlike at some other places, where they are over in a flash. And Basel also attracted me, being another new city to experience. (he laughs)
Why did you choose Sebastian Hiller’s research group?
The group works with nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy. This is a pretty exciting technology, both from a physical point of view, as well as in regard to its application in biology, as it enables exploration of the mechanisms of life at the atomic level.
What are you working on?
I work on a project of my supervisor Guillaume Mas. He investigates so-called chaperones. These are proteins that help other proteins fold into the right shape, because a protein only works when it has the appropriate 3D structure. In order to study the chaperones, we need to bring them into a sufficiently pure, highly-concentrated form. I then evaluate our measurements on the computer.
What is it like to work in a research group?
It's very interesting. During my studies, I have only had a brief introduction to lab work so far, so this is no comparison to doing real research in a lab for eight weeks. I have not only learned more about biology and some lab techniques like protein extraction but also about how research works in general.
Are you in touch with the other participants?
Sure. Various events have been organized for us and it is great to meet peers who are experiencing something similar. But even before the start of these events, we got each other’s cell phone numbers-and made an appointment for lunch.
Would you recommend the program?
Yes, I certainly would, especially because the program is really geared towards second-year students. It was not, how you would imagine a classic internship to be, where you always do a little of the same thing every day. From the start to finish, I really got the chance to do many things and my supervisor tailored the daily to-do list to me and to what I already know.