Undergraduate Research Opportunities testimonials

Former Undergraduate Research Opportunities (URO) participants on their research internships in Matter to Life

Kueyoung Kim (MtL URO 2023 participant)

I am confident that, many years from now, I will look back at my time with the Matter to Life URO program as one of the most influential and defining periods of my life. Not only did I grow significantly as both a scientist and person, but I also built international connections and friendships that will extend throughout my scientific career. During my stay in the idyllic town of Göttingen, I always felt that I had a community of people from all over the world that I could lean on for support, whether it be discussing research with other group members over coffee, cooking dinner with friends I met at the Max Planck guest house, or exploring Germany with other students in the URO program.
Scientifically, my time with the Zwicker Group pushed me to approach problems from new perspectives and strengthened my ability to communicate not only across disciplines (as a chemistry student in a physics group) but also across cultures with scientists from all over the world.
Although navigating a new country and research environment was at times nerve-wracking, the experience of living and working in Germany has broadened my perspective on the world and contributed to my personal growth at a fundamental level.
I am incredibly grateful for the opportunity that the URO program has provided me, and I strongly encourage anyone who is interested in making the leap into a new environment to apply.

Khanh Tran (MtL URO 2022 participant)

"My experience as a Matter to Life URO candidate was truly one of the most enriching, memorable, and overall fun experiences of my life. I'd never gotten the chance to travel to Europe before, and Heidelberg – the city that I happened to land in through this program – perfectly captured the European charm I'd heard so much about. The housing stipend is quite generous, so I was fortunate to live in the heart of the city where I got to experience many cultural events and meet many kind people who were eager to welcome a foreigner into their culture. I was matched with an incredible research group at a very prestigious institute, where I also met wonderful people who would later become close friends and mentors by the end of the program. My mentor in particular served as a huge inspiration due to her clear passion for science and exceptional productivity in the lab. Through her mentorship, I was able to push the boundaries on what I thought I was capable of – I learned a new programming language from scratch and techniques/concepts from a field I had no prior knowledge of. This experience has given me the confidence to tackle projects in new fields with passion rather than hesitation. Overall, I would recommend this program to anyone who wants to learn from incredible scientists, improve their own way of thinking, and take a solo leap of faith into an incredible country with so much to offer."

Read the full interview with Khanh here!

Irene Pellini (MtL URO 2022 participant; Bachelor student in Physics from Italy)

“How physics, biology and chemistry come together and are strictly entangled and mingled when it comes to the formation of life and the development, growth and death of living beings has always fascinated me. When I discovered the URO program, thus, I immediately knew that it was the right opportunity to nurture and explore this passion, thanks to its interdisciplinary nature and to its focus on life matters. During my internship I was involved in two different projects - one concerning the creation and enhancement of porous polymer-based microcapsules to trap bacteria, and the other one related to the development of a microfluidic device able to register small changes in pressure. In both cases I have been able to experience how the life of a researcher unfolds and could strongly develop my problem-solving abilities. Thanks to the multidisciplinarity of the research group as well as the availability of its members, additionally, I have been able to get some overview of other research in the fields of biology and chemistry and to learn useful techniques and skills broadly used in these areas. Moreover, the international environment and the experience of living in a foreign country have deeply contributed to my personal development, forcing me to face my insecurities and to overcome cultural and linguistic differences.”

Read the interview to learn more about her experience!

Llazar Shkurti (MtL URO 2022 participant)

"I consider my research stay truly valuable, both in terms of my career and personal development. This internship not only provided me with first-hand experience in the research world but also enabled me to understand a bit more about my career trajectory. Exposure to Synthetic Biology during my research stay made me strongly consider this field as a potential candidate for my Master’s. Additionally, the MtL-URO experience provided an invaluable chance for me to network and build important professional connections. During my research stay, I learnt a lot of new lab techniques and methods, but, more importantly, I experienced what it is like to be part of a research lab. This does not involve merely performing experiments and following protocols; it also comprises keeping lab areas clean, engaging in team work and having weekly meetings & seminars to report progress and present research papers.
Another thing worth noting is the positive workplace culture in the lab. It felt like a community I was proud to be a part of. Everybody had a common goal: doing exciting & revolutionary science, but also networking and creating friendships. My professional relationship with my supervisor also grew stronger during the course of the internship. I felt that I was really being valued for my contributions to the lab’s research efforts."

Adrián Gutiérrez Cruz (MtL URO 2021 participant; Bachelor student in nanotechnology and chemistry from Mexico)

“My experience as a Matter to Life URO candidate was incredible in all senses. In the first place, as I had never been to Europe before, most of the things were new for me. However, adapting to that was not too difficult and was something that I enjoyed it a lot. Germany is a beautiful country with a lot of places to visit and kind people to meet. This program allowed me to work in an exceptional research group at a very prestigious university, where I met incredible people from different disciplines and cultures, making the experience more enriching. I have learned a lot of new techniques and concepts that have improved my knowledge of my field, allowing me to be more prepared for future projects. In conclusion, I would encourage everyone who wants to improve their skills and have an unforgettable experience in an exceptional country, to apply to the Matter to Life Program. Doing research in Germany was unique for me, I discovered new ways of doing science and enhance my critical thinking."

Read the interview with Adrián!


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