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PhD student at the Institute for Biodiversity and Ecosystem Dynamics in the group of Molecular and Chemical Ecology
Joséphine Blaazer
Photo: Joséphine Blaazer

Own path

‘After the bachelor Biology at the University of Amsterdam I chose the Master’s programme Biological Sciences: Green Life Sciences (GLS). I’ve always been fascinated in the way plants interact with their environment. Besides that, the UvA offers a great variety of options.  There’re only a few mandatory courses, so you have a lot of freedom filling in your own study path. For example, you can select quite some courses from other programmes, follow courses at other universities or explore the practical field during an internship.’


’For me, the most important was finding out which topic of interest I liked the most. Because GLS covers everything from molecule to ecosystem, I had the opportunity to really find out what I wanted in life. I got in touch with a lot of different types of research and picked what I liked the most. It’s possible to do research on every level. Also, I love not having to sit behind the computer all day. The programme offers a great mix between practical work in the greenhouses and laboratories, analysis and presentation of results. If you want, you can be outdoors a lot which I think is great.’

Spider mites

’During my study and second internship at the UvA I developed a great interest in spider mites. Because of my research results I got the chance to do a PhD project at the Institute for Biodiversity and Ecosystem Dynamics in the group of Molecular and Chemical Ecology. Mites are a problem for agriculture because they eat crop plants and thereby lead to yield losses. We are trying to find ways to prevent or reduce mite invasions without the use of pesticides by studying the interaction between plants and mites. So far, the results have been promising as it seems that these mites are manipulating plants during feeding such that the natural resistances of these plants get paralyzed. If we can undo this we may restore the plant’s own ability to control mite infestations.‘


’GLS taught me how to become an independent researcher. Doing research is more than experimenting, writing and presenting.  It’s also operating in a team. I like working together with my fellow researchers who all share the same passion. The atmosphere is very informal which is very important because we spend so many hours together doing research. Therefore I’m definitely not complaining: I’m glad I found my passion and enjoy my work every single day.’