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Andrea is currently working at Columbia University in New York as a Research Officer and about to move to Los Angeles where he is going to start his PhD programme in Immunology. Andrea completed his Master’s in the summer of 2016 and is about to publish his review and some research papers with Columbia University. His immediate future plans are to publish more papers within the next five years, and explore the industrial sector. He says: “Studying at the University of Amsterdam was life changing: it helped me to connect with so many people from all around the world and gave me many opportunities”.
Andrea Vecchione

Was it your ambition to be a PhD student?

Good question. When I was still a Bachelor student in Biotechnology at the University of Naples, my idea of science was quite narrow. However, once I moved to Amsterdam and as soon as I started my first laboratory rotation as part of my Master's programme at the Amsterdam Medical Center, I realised that only a PhD programme could fulfil my ‘scientific appetite’. The Master’s Programme in Biomedical Sciences at the University of Amsterdam was an important stepping stone in my scientific life and helped me to understand what a PhD would potentially be like. To answer your question, my ambition to be a PhD student developed over time. It is a tough decision and certainly challenging and requires high dedication, but worth it if you are a true science lover.      

What is it like to study and work in an international environment like Amsterdam or New York?

It is challenging but unique. Just imagine competing with people from all around the world. Everybody has a different educational background and approach to science. It is a great opportunity to learn from so many different cultures and explore the world without the need to move. Amsterdam was a great city where I could experience my first multicultural experiences. On the other side, moving to New York was quite a surprise. The international environment is even bigger and more competitive than the one I experienced in Amsterdam. Both cities are incredibly beautiful but extremely different. New York is home to great universities and medical centres like Columbia University, New York University, Cornell University, Rockefeller and more. Science is progressing at a very fast pace and new discoveries are always just around the corner.  

Describe your typical day at the PhD office

My typical day in the laboratory doesn’t look like a well-balanced 9-to-5 job. Science means commitment and time. I would normally enter the office and start reading articles online that could possibly help me to plan my future experiments and give new insights. Then, I would go to the biosafety room and check on my cell cultures and start my experiments, after wisely planning every step. A day would go by pretty quickly, but within a week of work I would already have results to show to my Principal Investigator in one of our meetings. The life of a scientist can be quite challenging but at the same time highly motivating. There is a goal that your team wants to achieve. You need to read lots of articles. Planning your own experiments in advance is also very important for your technical performance. 

Why did you choose Amsterdam for your studies?

For my Master's studies I applied to various universities in Europe. I was interested in a programme that could give me enough time to focus on Immunology and laboratory training. The University of Amsterdam offers one of the best programmes in Biomedical Sciences I could find. Moreover, I could choose among different tracks. Amsterdam is one of the cosiest and progressive cities in Europe and I could find ‘my dimension’ immediately. I easily integrated into the Dutch culture and made new friends. Amsterdam is also very international and most of my friends and people I met came from all around the world.