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"Welcome to the world of research"

28 students from the School of Sciences have carried out internships abroad, twice as many as in the previous year. Of these, 80% had scholarship

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Ainhoa Goñi, Mikel Imízcoz, David Repáraz and Inés Obregón.
PHOTO: Manuel Castells
23/10/17 12:45 Laura Juampérez

Last summer 28 students from the School of Sciencescarried out internships in universities, research centers andcompanies abroad thanks to Career Services and the International Office Committee of the School of Sciences, which is more than double the number of students from the previous year. 10 of these students were able to carry out these internships with a scholarship SIP (Science Internship Program) from School, in addition to 5 Global Scholarships and 15 Erasmus scholarships.

This has been the case of Soledad González (4th year Chemistry). The internship has taken her to King's College of London, where she has collaborated -between June and July- in a project of research developed in partnership with the Pharmaceutical Biophysics Group at KCL and supervised by Dr. Cécile Dreiss. "The project consisted of the study of the rheological properties of surfactants and their interactions with antiepileptic drugs, and the study of supramolecular associations with various excipients using NMR and electronic spectroscopy techniques," says Soledad.

For her, the experience has also meant "being able to enter contact with the world of research, something that has always called me very much. It has been one of the best experiences I have had in my life, not only for the skills acquired at laboratory, but also for the fact that I got to know a different culture and people from different parts of the world," she says.

David Repáraz (Biology '17), third from the left in the photograph, has lived this experience at the high school of Physiology of the University of Zurich, where he had as goal "to determine the renal resistance to FGF23 of JakS646P+/- mice created by the Munich ENU Mutagenesis Program. These mice theoretically exhibit increased activation of the IL6-JAK-STAT pathway, which causes a phenotype similar to Systemic Lupus Erythrematosus (SLE). This is why they are considered a valuable tool for the study of this disease," says the student, who is currently studying a Master's Degree at USAL.

A few months after his return, he considers that the stay "has been a very enriching experience. I have had the opportunity to participate in a area of research in which I had never been before, to know other different ways of functioning in a laboratory, to work in a totally international atmosphere, to practice languages, to gain fluency and autonomy in the laboratory. In addition, I am making new friends from all corners of the world. I encourage students who are thinking about it to take the plunge into this little adventure that will open their minds," says David.

"Going outside allows you to learn that you are more independent than you thought you were."

result M ikel Galdúroz (Biochemistry '17) found the experience in the USA so rewarding that he has extended it until the end of the year. However, this is not the first time he has done a overseas study period: "I was already on Erasmus in Norway and it was amazing. My goal this year was to be able to work abroad as well, so I didn't hesitate when I had the opportunity to come to Massachusetts. In this business, Elpidera, everyone has been very attentive and kind, and they have helped me in everything I needed".

Mikel has worked on two projects related to subject II citrullinemia and subject I glycogenosis, using new mRNA drugs to demonstrate the expression and activity of therapeutic proteins. "With both projects I have learned new analysis techniques, refined other techniques I already knew and have been able to work with more advanced technology," he stresses.

Mikel has no hesitation in recommending this experience to all students: "Going abroad, whether to study or to do an internship, is a necessary experience. It makes you grow, both professionally and personally. And the person you learn the most from abroad is yourself: you realize that you are more independent than you thought," he says.

To get closer to the reality of the world of the research

Camila Cote Zapata (3rd from Biochemistry ) chose to do her internship in Wageningen (The Netherlands), in a laboratory that belongs to WUR(Wageningen University & Research). There she had the opportunity to participate in the research of the group of Bioscience of the University: "For three weeks I was taught different techniques in the laboratory, and I had to study several papers on other research of the same group. The next two months I was left to position for a part of the research. It was an approach to what it is like to really dedicate oneself to research , to solve problems and to handle frustration when things don't work out."

"Also to be told "welcome to the world of research", and to attend to seminars where the different groups of research present their work, observe how the teams help each other to solve problems, etc.", emphasizes the 3rd grade student.

Regarding the reasons for recommending prospective students to sign up for a summer internship abroad, Camila agrees with Soledad and Mikel: "Because of everything it gives you from an academic point of view, but also because of what you learn about other cultures. It is an experience that opens you up to the world: to other languages -as was my case with Dutch, despite being able to speak English-, to live together, to breathe in another environment and to acquire more independence. I grew, not only academically, but also as a person," she concludes.

Degrees and destinations

The students who have done summer internships belong to all the Degrees of the School (Biochemistry , Chemistry, double Degree of Chemistry+Biochemistry , Biology and Master's Degree in Biodiversity, Landscapes and Sustainable management ) although there has been a majority of students from Degree of Biochemistry .

Regarding the centers and countries of destination, students have carried out their internships in such prestigious academic centers as UC Berkeley (California), King's College London (UK), Columbia University (USA), Helmholtz Zentrum München (Germany), KU Leuven University (Belgium), or companies such as Elpidera (USA).

 "The goal", explains Eduardo Ansorena, coordinator academic for international affairs at the School of Sciences, "is that our students can continue to develop summer internships in centers of excellence in the coming years, and the School is making an B effort to try to get more scholarships for them". From the Career Services of the School coordinated by Cristina Martínez Cabañas and the Commission of International Office itself, the necessary contacts have already begun to manage the internships that will take place in the summer of 2018.