I found the courses extremely challenging. I had never encountered such lectures or content before. Out of all the compulsory components, I liked the ones where you could do your own research, such as the literature review and research projects. I also liked the Food Web dynamics and Epidemiology courses. In general, the study environment was motivating, I had all the resources I needed and teachers always available to talk. If I couldn't see them in person they would answer e-mails promptly or direct me to someone who could help.
My coordinator was Maus Sabelis and he turned out to be very good as he always found appropriate solutions to my inquiries. He was always very understanding and helpful when it came to both personal and professional issues. Andre de Roos was my thesis supervisor and a big influence on my work. In his special way, he clarified and directed the ideas in my head into an excellent thesis project. He spent quite a lot of time on me and my project. I recently submitted it to very good journal and they accepted it. That makes me really happy!
The topic of my Master's thesis was "Population Dynamics of Konik Horses in Oostvaardersplassen". Using an individual-based bioenergetical model, we investigated the Konik horse population and the potential for a population crash during the winter months. We discovered that regular 3-year population cycles arise due to the yearlings starving. Yearlings are horses that have just turned one year old. They do not survive their second winter due to increased growth demands and scarce resources in years with a large population . This is a form of density-dependent population regulation.
I am currently doing a PhD with the Aquatic Ecology and Water Quality Management department at Wageningen University. Using individual-based models I look into the recovery potential of different arthropod species after pesticide induced mortality. I consider species specific life-history traits, pesticide mode of action and landscape features. Understanding what population models are and how they are applied, knowledge I gained during my Master's studies, is the central skill I use in my PhD studies. Also, knowing what you are up against when dealing with Dutch people is quite useful!"