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Blogpost: Being a Master's Student at DANDRITE

Klaudia Anna Tokarska spent more than a year as an intern in Duda Kvitsiani's Lab. In this blogpost she shares her thoughts on sending an unmotivated application and how she has developed both personally and professionally during the past year. 

Blog post by Klaudia Anna Tokarska

For a period of six months, I had been following an online course in Neuroscience as part of the Sino-Danish Center in Neuroscience and Neuroimaging (a partnership between Denmark and China). Due to COVID-19, I was prevented from going to China, where the course takes place.

As interesting as the online classes were, I really missed the practical aspect of applying all the knowledge I had been gaining. I started thinking about what I could do about it, and I started looking for internship options in Denmark. The first place that drew my attention was DANDRITE – a community focused specifically on Neuroscience research. It seemed perfect. I contacted a few DANDRITE labs I found the most interesting, and some days later, I signed an agreement with Group Leader Duda Kvitsiani about joining his lab the following month.

Initially, my intention was to learn a few practical skills, however, I ended up staying in Duda’s lab until my graduation in June 2023. From the moment I started my internship, I was becoming more and more fascinated with research, and I felt like joining Duda’s lab had made my Neuroscience learning more efficient and more complete. The main reason I was enjoying being an intern at DANDRITE was that I was not specializing in just one aspect of research, but as a student with no previous experience, I was learning everything from scratch – handling animals, performing surgeries, staining, and the hardest of it all – coding and analyzing data! It was an intense period with many frustrating moments but by far the best part of my master’s education. I was given a chance to experience first-hand what it is like to be a part of a research community. I was invited to talks, seminars, and other events – in the field of Neuroscience, as well as more broadly in Biology and Medicine. I was presented with plenty of opportunities to make connections in the field, exchange ideas, and advance my skills. My lab and the whole department were extremely inclusive and helped me every single step of the way. Because of all those fantastic experiences, I was able to find my true passions in the field and I made up my mind about what research I wanted to work on more in the future.

My journey at DANDRITE started with a few simple emails sent out due to personal curiosity and a little bit of enthusiasm. That is the one thing that I saw at DANDRITE repeatedly: What matters most is your own motivation and curiosity. Reaching out, asking for help, and being proactive can open many doors. The DANDRITE community has taught me that no matter at what stage in your research career you are, no matter how much knowledge you already have, if you are willing to work hard and learn, you are welcome in the research community. Over the past year, I have learned to be more courageous and less afraid of asking any questions.

It felt strange when I was leaving my lab for good as it had become such a big part of my life. I will forever be grateful for all the learning opportunities and all the immense support I was given throughout my time at DANDRITE. Thanks to everything I learned there, I was able to successfully complete my master’s thesis, and I was fortunate to have been offered a wonderful Ph.D. position on the topic I am extremely passionate about, and I cannot wait to further build on the skills gained ad DANDRITE during my Ph.D. I hope to stay connected with the DANDRITE community and to contribute to Neuroscience research as, thanks to my DANDRITE experience, I am confident this is what I want to devote a big part of my life to. 

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