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Meet Stefanie Andersson, PhD student in Molecular Biology

Stefanie Andersson left Germany to do a Master's in Molecular Biology at the University of Gothenburg. In 2016, she started her doctoral studies at the Department for Chemistry and Molecular Biology. Read about her experiences as a PhD student.

Why did you want to do a PhD?

After I finished my Master's studies, I was wondering what I would do next. I am a very ambitious person and I like to challenge myself. PhD studies are challenging and you really need ambition. My biggest motivation, however, is my curiosity and the wish to learn new things.

What is the topic of your PhD project and what is the aim of your research?

The focus of my PhD project lies in the molecular mechanisms of arsenic and cadmium toxicity. Both are considered environmental pollutants and are classified as human carcinogens. It is well known that arsenic and cadmium are toxic, but the molecular mechanisms of their toxicities are not fully understood.

It was recently shown that arsenite and cadmium cause protein misfolding, thereby leading to protein aggregation. It is, however, still not known what leads to proteins misfolding in the presence of arsenite or cadmium. How are proteins targeted? How does the cell deal with protein aggregation? What kind of defense mechanisms does the cell have? To these questions, I want to find an answer using the eukaryotic model organism Saccharomyces cerevisiae.

What is the biggest challenge in your project?

Finding the needle in the haystack ;)

What is the hardest/the best with being a PhD student?

Doing a PhD is not only about research. It also includes taking courses, teaching in bachelor's and master's courses, supervising project students in the lab, publishing articles and so much more… You quickly have to learn how to manage your time efficiently. This is, I think, the hardest part but at the same time also the best part of being a PhD student. You get the opportunity to try out a lot of different things. I also enjoy to participate in conferences, both at home and abroad, and to network.

Which characteristics are important to have as a PhD student?

Ambition, motivation, curiosity, good time management and most important of all: have fun and enjoy yourself!

How would you describe a good supervisor?

A good supervisor should be encouraging, optimistic, patient, inspiring, caring.

Which advice would you give to future PhD students?

Make sure to find a project you like. This is important, because you are going to work with it for the next 4 to 5 years. Find a supervisor you know will push your limits. You will learn a lot from her/him. Enjoy your working environment. You will meet a lot of great people. And do not forget to enjoy what you are doing!

PhD student Stefanie Andersson at work.
Page Manager: Katleen Burm|Last update: 1/7/2019

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