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Student Biomedical Sciences: Cellular and Network Neuroscience

Cathelijn te Koppele
Photo: Cathelijn te Koppele

Study choice

‘Before my Bachelor’s programme Psychobiology, I doubted to become a psychiatrist or go into a natural science and innovation management study. I have always liked the combination of beta, science and the human societal side. After my Bachelor’s internship at the psychology department, I wanted to learn more about the fundamental side of neuroscience. Because of that, I chose the Master’s Programme Biomedical Sciences: Cellular and Network Neuroscience. I also liked that I could develop skills beside research by choosing a minor or major. Since I was not sure if I wanted a career in research, this master was an optimal way to specialise in neuroscience and explore other fields.’

Biomedical Sciences: Cellular and Network Neuroscience

‘In one of the courses, we had to prepare lectures about the study material every day for two weeks. Each student gave two lectures – here I quickly learned how to master new complex subjects and learn from other students. The Master’s programme consists of three months of courses, but more important is the freedom you get: for more than 1,5 years you can pick the topics for internships and thesis you like. Also, there are a lot of side programmes. For instance, I am in the Tesla Minor, an interdisciplinary programme where business, science and society get connected. Here I could develop further and explore which activities drive me.’

‘During the Master’s Programme courses, I got to understand a deeper insight in the neurophysiological mechanisms of the brain. Also, I learned programming in Matlab, in which I did not have any experience. This was very useful since it is necessary for most research. I liked the course Neuroanatonomy the most. Here, we dissected a human brain in the ‘snijzaal’ of the AMC. I learned what structures and connections in the brain look like. Also, I followed Laboratory Animals Art. 9. This made me think about the ethical concerns of rodent research. I think that it is crucial that everyone conducting research thinks about the suffering of animals and comes up with alternative research ideas.’

‘So far, I did one internship about the neurophysiological integration of input from two structures  into another associated with memory formation. I liked the complexity of the measuring method and the analysis. However, now I know I will not continue working in the lab. I prefer team work and connecting with people. The thesis I wrote was about non-synaptic plasticity in relation to learning and memory. Classically, memory is created via the strengthening of synapses. In more recent research, it appears it is more complicated. Many processes at the dendrite play an important role in the formation of memory. I wrote a review about the neurophysiological mechanisms that are involved. In the future, I do not want to continue in the ‘die-hard’ research. I am mostly interested in something that translates to societal daily life. Therefore, my near future might be consultancy, a research company or something with educational purposes.’

Student life

‘After studying I like to do a lot of sports. Besides indoor sports (like gym and yoga) I like to drive around on my racing bike. Also, I am addicted to explore the world and try to travel as much as possible. During my Bachelor’s, I already studied abroad two times. Also, I joined a study association; it was a very nice way of getting to know people in Amsterdam who are not in beta-related studies. I used to work in cafes and restaurants, but the Master’s Programme requires my full attention. Currently I am helping a child with a Dutch language deficiency by reading together. Last year I also worked as a student assistant in the Psychobiology bachelor.’