Aydin Golabgir-Anbarani. Photo: Christian Ove Carlsson

The Best Experience a PhD Student Can Wish for

Friday 01 Nov 13
The above statement was uttered by PhD student Aydin Golabgir-Anbarani in the bus from Sorø Science Centre to DTU Sustain in Hørsholm. Aydin and 19 other young biotech students have taken part in a weeklong Word Talent Campus (WTC) for the biotech elite in Sorø.

This Friday (25 October) 20 young people are lounging in the bus after an intensive week of lectures, presentations from industry, company visits and successful presentations of their suggested solutions for real-life challenges in Danish leading biotech companies – including DONG Energy, CP Kelco, Novo Nordisk and Novozymes.

Aydin Golabgir-Anbarani. Photo: Christian Ove CarlssonAydin is pursuing a PhD at the Vienna University of Technology and is in his 2nd year. To Aydin the WTC has been very successful and rewarding. When asked what the best part of the campus was, Aydin struggles a bit before answering:

“The best part for me was the industrial contacts and visits – though, it is difficult to say what part was the best – but it was the most exciting because although I have been to a factory before – this time we had a chance to get a grasp of what are the challenges they have – talk to them in more detail, go open one of these huge reactors and look inside them, which I have never done before, so it’s huge – and really makes an impression on you, the scale of their task.”

All the students we talked to really liked the team working events – which were held at the beginning of the campus.

“The team work was definitely one of the best parts (Aydin says smiling). The tree-climbing event was one of the best parts and my suggestion to Jesper (Jesper Bryde-Jacobsen, MD of BIOPRO) was that we should do more of these and maybe have one in the middle of the week – although we did walks around the lake here, the environmental setting was just beautiful!” Aydin adds.

Same but not the same

Thomas Wasylenko. Photo: Christian Ove CarlssonAll participants at the WTC are students within the biotech research field – but their backgrounds, topics and the way their home universities approach the field are both the same and have their differences. The students all enjoy the networking opportunity and their different backgrounds and complementary skills.

“We learned a lot – we all come from different backgrounds but we touched on enough topics in the course that everybody learned something,” says Thomas Wasylenko, PhD at MIT.

“The group work experience was nice – because we had biologists, mathematicians, people from the oil and gas industry and people who are very experienced – people who have a PhD and people who are just starting a PhD – everybody got to work together and learned from each other.”

“It was nice to see Denmark – I’m from the states – it was interesting to see another country and meet students from mainly European universities. There was a lot of countries represented – and a good mix.”

Meeting the industry – and real-life challenges
"We do everything in a shake flask scale, so to see what goes into scaling that up ... that was really eye-opening!"
Thomas Wasylenko, PhD student at MIT

For the last two days of the campus, the 20 international talents were divided into four teams who should work on a case based on real-life challenges in one of the companies connected to the campus. Ester Marinez’ group worked with a case within DONG Energy’s area – and Ester very much enjoyed both the presentation by DONG’s contact, Jesper Dohrup, the visit to DONG Inbicon and having Jesper Dohrup as a mentor in the teamwork on improving a real-life process. “It was really nice to have someone from industry … especially as the process we worked with is a process you will experience in reality,” Ester points out.

“I have always said the best professors I have had – were the ones who gave us examples from the industry – because from the books you can always read but it is more real when you meet someone who works in the industry,” Ester says.

Thomas Wasylenko adds: “I work in a biofuels lab – we do everything in a shake flask scale, so to see what goes into scaling that up and actually doing that at a huge scale to make money – yeah, that was really eye-opening to see what goes into that!”

Networking

Ester Martinez. Photo: Christian Ove Carlsson“I really like that we are from all over the world – and that is really important if you wish to know new techniques and use them – and you want to say, okay maybe I want to do a postdoc – and then you know they are doing this work at this department. It’s a good opportunity to get this knowledge,” Ester concludes.

“We have made some good friends – and if we wish to go to a different area, we know some people who are experts – so I think that could also be very useful,” Thomas adds.

“The biotech community is actually quite small – so a lot of the people who are here, I have met before at some conferences – though only one student – after this we will definitely see each other at conferences – so this will always be an experience which we share and can look back on,” says Aydin.

Special Setting – at Sorø Science Centre

“But just being here around the scenery – and this historical location; going to the old church, and getting a really nice introduction from the science centre staff and also having a brilliant dinner in this great hall the first night – it was just a special setting, which I think would not have been the same if you were in a hotel, say in Copenhagen.”

“The event was very well organized – a great event!” Aydin concludes.

To learn more about the World Talent Campus, follow this link