I believe am a scholar and as such I am very intrigued by the search for knowledge. I would wish to purse my PhD course because of a number of reasons. Most importantly I would like to become an expert in my field of interest; therefore a PhD project will be able to equip me with proper knowledge. I also enjoy the learning environment mixture the school and office work keeps me busy and grounded. It would therefore help me to have a clear mind-set and focus on improving my life.
I have particular interest in pursuing my PhD from this university. This is because I learnt that the university also makes use of quite a number of animal models, all of them very distinct from each other. I believe this would be very informative in my area of study because I would be able to compare and contrast the regenerative mechanisms operating distinctively in each of them. There are a number of reasons why I want to be part of your PhD student body. To begin with I am intrigued by biology; my love for it cannot be explained, I simply love the fact that I do not have to struggle to understand concepts and procedures in this field. As a matter of fact I believe I was born to study biology
Another aspect that increases my confidence in your university is the fact that there are quite a number of well-equipped laboratories, which work hand in hand to deliver on experiments that are outstanding. I believe the university has a very stimulating environment that is student friendly and at the same time very quiet, clean and with the best team of professors.
From a tender age I realized I had a calling for nature, in particular animals. As I grew up my thinking broadened and I began to think widely on a number of issues concerning their make-up. I was intrigued by how they were able to move their legs, eat and digest food, make different sounds and how they differently responded to stimuli. This was generally the genesis of my love for biology. I enjoyed watching natural geographic, which had a closer insight to the world of animals’ especially wild animals and sea life. I often found myself indulging in a number of Lorenz’s books. However I felt like he missed out on very important things in regards to the biological make up of creatures. Lorenzo had a rather general approach instead of being more specific and addressing the issues that proved to be challenging. In middle school I was able to broaden my knowledge in a number of key areas, among them genetics and how they affect behaviour and physiology. Through this my eyes were opened and I finally realized my passion and interest was in the molecular world.
Animal Models Mechanism
While I was researching for my thesis, I had the opportunity to research on the implications of investigating regenerative medicine and also to see first-hand the regenerative abilities of Parhyale and zebrafish. I was impressed by the work of Amaya and Nancy Papalopulu and I loved how they were able to combine live imaging and genomic modifications in multiple regenerating animal models. Their study helped to better understand the mechanism and regulatory network behind the different regenerative mechanism of their animal models, as understanding how these work and how to modulate them might make an impact in the field of regenerative medicine and help open up new venues for possible therapies being used
I was humbly privileged to talk to Mansi Srivastava and Aziz Aboobaker who are great men in the field of biology especially genetics, I know that investigating changes in gene expression to identify genes involved in the cell state transitions, using single cell approaches and live imaging, identifying interacting molecules in multiple experimental model systems (neural stem cells from mouse, human, zebrafish) would provide insights into animal biology in general, but also has important implications for regenerative medicine and stem-cell biology
University was a very busy time for me. In order to help my parents with the expenses, I decided to work a part-time job. This was a useful experience, not only because it helped me develop my communication skills, but also because it taught me to organize my time efficiently and work hard. Studying about transcription factors, signal transduction and how to exploit them in research did nothing but increase my passion for molecular biology, which helped me keep up with exams. Despite working a part-time job and doing voluntary work, I graduated on time and with a 1st class honours degree.
Realizing that the absence of volunteering opportunities at the University of Florence gave me no way to enrich my skill set, I applied to Vrije University through an Erasmus program, which proved to be exactly what I was looking for. I had no trouble adapting to the challenges of a completely different scholastic system, deeply reliant on computer-based lessons, knowledge of cutting edge techniques, and the application of theoretical knowledge to practical workflow problems.
Additional Lab Experience
To make the most of my time before graduation and gain additional lab experience, I am currently working in Prof. Lucia Magnelli’s lab in Florence.
Nevertheless, the most significant experience in my academic career has undoubtedly been the 6 months of training I have spent at the Institute de Genomique fonctionelle de Lyon, since they helped me realise that I would like my future research to focus on regeneration.
The Averof lab recently established the crustacean Parhyale hawaiensis as an experimental model for regeneration and demonstrated that cells resembling the vertebrate satellite cells act as progenitors of regenerated muscles in this species 1. The aim of my project was to develop tools to characterise the role of these cells, called Satellite like Cells (SLCs), during regeneration.
Within the first month of my stay at IGFL I tested a fluorescent sensor of cell cycle progression and division in Parhyale, to see whether SLCs proliferated during development and regeneration 2. Interestingly, a visual analysis through confocal microscopy revealed that SLCs are not the only muscle cells that proliferate during development, a finding which raises many questions and shows the need for further studies.
Another aspect of my project was to conduct single-cell expression profiling on individual SLCs to assess their molecular signature and identify possible SLC-specific genetic markers. This was done in collaboration with Dr. Peter Reddien (Massachussets Institute of technology, Boston), who has already used and optimized this method to assess the heterogeneity of planarian neoblasts 3,4.
I am a practical, inquisitive, imaginative, methodical person I enjoy conducting experiments and spending time in the laboratories. I am open-minded with High intellectual standards and with the ability to work even under pressure and in any environment I am subjected to; consequently I believe that I have a lot I can learn from your university that is why I humbly request to be part of you.
I am confident enough that I will be able to achieve my set goals. I am sure that the training and experience I would acquire through the BHF dtp, together with the stimulating, dynamic environment of the KCL, would provide knowledge and skills fundamental for pursuing a career in regeneration.
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