Meet our PhD students
To have a conversation and interact in a meaningful way, you have to be constantly aware of what has already been said. You have to remember the recent past. But how does that work? How does our brain create a memory?
Meet Lies Deceuninck, PhD student at the Kloosterman lab. She talks about her research and life as a PhD student at NERF
What did you study and which path led you to join NERF?
Lies: I have a bachelor in physics and a master in Biophysics. However, my first contact with NERF and the Kloosterman Lab was actually before I had either degree. After I graduated High school I did a two-week internship in the Kloosterman Lab. I was super enthusiastic about the research and the international, professional work environment. Over the years, I stayed in touch with one of the PhD students in the lab, came back to do my master thesis with Fabian Kloosterman and I’m now continuing that work as a PhD student.
What is your PhD about?
Lies: In my project, I investigate the neural mechanisms that mediate the everyday creation and use of short-term memories. Since people with hippocampal pathologies, such as Alzheimer's disease or other forms of dementia, have a strongly impaired short-term memory, I focus on neural activity in the hippocampus.
Check out Lies' video where she explains her research project in 3 minutes for 'Science figured out'
What do you like about doing your PhD at NERF?
Lies: Besides the research itself, what I love about NERF as a work environment is its international team. Getting to know people from all over the world on a professional and personal level is a very enriching experience. On top of that, the facilities on our campus are excellent: a nice office, a good cafeteria, comfortable meeting rooms…
What would be your advice to people considering doing a PhD in neuroscience?
Lies: I can only repeat the classic answers: be fascinated by the topic, work hard, prepare for disappointments and frustrations… Your experiments won’t work upon first try. But I would like to add one very important piece of advice: make sure to talk to the PI and some of the students and post-docs in your future lab. Every PI runs his or her lab in the way s/he sees fit and you want it to match with the way that you work best. No matter how exciting or frustrating the work is (and inevitably, it will be both), a good mentor can always make a difference.
What will be next for you, once you graduate?
Lies: I honestly do not know yet. I’m enjoying the work I’m doing now and the opportunities I get to keep developing my skills. Whatever comes next, I’d like to go and do it abroad. Whether as a postdoc, a science policy officer or even as a science journalist, who knows? A lot can happen between today and my graduation, so I’ll keep an open mind.