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Master Forensic Science

Asim Q. Akbani (2016), PhD Student Neuro-epigenetics at ETH Zürich

I started the master in Forensic Science in 2014 after completing a bachelor in Biomedical Engineering from Karachi, Pakistan. Forensic Science in Amsterdam was my first choice because it offers a unique opportunity of a multidisciplinary education together with a research specialization according to the students’ backgrounds. Fortunately, I was accepted and awarded Amsterdam Merit Scholarship for the entire duration of the programme.

Picture Asim Akbani

I already had a passion for research in molecular biology but during the first year of the programme, I was drawn more towards molecular epigenetics and how it can be used to answer some of the trickiest questions from forensic biological samples. After a lot of planning, patience and email correspondence about my motivation for epigenetics with group leaders around the world, I found a very challenging and novel idea for my research project at ETH Zurich, Switzerland. I worked on the possibility of building a forensic detection method for the illegal use of growth promoting hormones in the livestock industry by using DNA methylation as an epigenetic marker of estrogen consumption. During my project, I wrote an abstract for an international epigenetics conference that was accepted for an oral presentation. I was very excited (and nervous) to share my results with some leading scientists of the world in Giardini Naxos, Italy in September 2016 - a truly wonderful experience at the very beginning of my scientific career.

Currently, I am working as a Scientific Assistant at ETH Zurich, continuing my work from the research project and also targeting the transgenerational epigenetic effects of estrogenic hormones. I will start a Ph.D. in Neuro-epigenetics from January 2017 at the Brain Research Institute of ETH Zürich, which is a whole new exciting challenge.

My advice to future students is to set very clear goals for yourselves and maintain the right attitude to tackle the challenges of such a demanding master’s programme. If you are enthusiastic about your career and ready to work ‘extremely’ hard, you will be able to benefit from the excellent opportunities of developing your scientific and professional skills offered by this master. At the end, it’s entirely up to you to make the most of it!