Marlies Ludikhuize, alumnus Master's Cancer, Stem Cells and Developmental Biology
“The great thing about this Master’s programme is the freedom and flexibility it gives students. If you have the initiative, you will find it can offer you excellent opportunities. It is also a very international programme with a really dynamic learning environment.
During my Bachelor’s in Biomedical Sciences, the topic of signalling within cells and cellular metabolism was what interested me most. Cancer is a disease of deregulated signalling and metabolism, and Utrecht University offered the best Master’s focused on cancer. With two internships, it was also the most practical. I felt ready to apply theory in practice, so this was exactly what I was looking for.
My first internship was at Utrecht, where I worked under a very good supervisor. My second internship was at the University of Berkeley in California, where I worked in a lab for six months. Berkeley was an incredibly inspiring environment – everyone was so motivated and enthusiastic. I learned a lot of new techniques, as well as how to think for myself, plan, take initiative and make things happen.
Because of my interest in teaching, I chose an educational elective once back at Utrecht and then extended my degree. Together with a faculty member, I spent five months redesigning the curriculum of a course on a Bachelor’s programme before giving tutorials on the course. I then set up a study that involved the students from this course. I found this project incredibly rewarding. It gave me a complete sense of all aspects of academia: teaching, research, and programme design – and I decided that this was definitely an environment I would consider working in for my career.
The flexibility of the programme and the advice of the staff were the real strengths of the programme. I am now doing a PhD at the department of Molecular Cancer Research at UMC Utrecht.”
Pieter Munster, alumnus Master's Cancer, Stem Cells and Developmental Biology
“I am a policy advisor on education and research at Leiden University. My work is not specific to the biomedical sciences. I work for the division Academic Affairs which functions as an internal advisory group for the board of the university. In my job I am involved in many different projects, from guiding quality control processes to improving the functioning of the education committees and coordinating the National Student Survey.
My career has been made possible by the flexible nature of the Master's programmes at Utrecht, as well as the extracurricular activities I did throughout my studies. When my career goals changed, I was able to tailor the programme to reflect this, which is a strength of the programme structure.
My interest in education and organisation began early in my bachelor days at Utrecht, where I was often involved in committee work for the university. After my Bachelor's, I was most interested in the biology of cancer and Utrecht offered a great Master's in this. It was broader than other Master's, offered fundamental research and has close ties to the Hubrecht institute.
I really enjoyed the coursework, but during my first internship at Hubrecht I realised that a career in a laboratory was not for me. For my second internship I opted for the education minor, which involved two months of coursework and a four-month internship helping to organise the course Functional Biology for a new Life Sciences Bachelor's programme. This convinced me that my future was in education and everything involved in organising it.
Working in universities is something I enjoy greatly and plan to continue. I have a number of future career options in mind. My career has turned out to be atypical of alumni of this Master's, but the university offered the flexibility that made it work."