Master in Molecular Life Sciences helps Anne become a full researcher

Anne Jaspers enjoys the ‘hardcore research’ she’s doing for her internship at Synapse, combined with the Master in Molecular Life Sciences at HAN. “It’s all about putting into practice everything you learned during your bachelor studies.

Anne Jaspers volgt de masteropleiding Molecular Life Sciences in voltijd

It’s been a busy period for Anne Jaspers (22). She and her boyfriend moved into a new apartment in Diepenbeek (Belgium), and right after that she started her Master in Molecular Life Sciences at HAN. As part of this degree, she now works at the Maastricht-based company Synapse, where she does, in her own words ‘hardcore research’.

Working with lama antibodies

What does she mean by that? “Well, the fact that I have joined a project where we are doing many things that have never been done before. I can’t go into details, but it’s a new upcoming treatment that uses antibodies from lamas. This treatment could be used for anything that lamas have an immune response to, like Covid or things that Synapse mainly focuses on: blood disorders.”

Anne’s interest lies in biotechnology, specifically DNA techniques like CRISPR-CAS. She did a minor in this technique in Leeuwarden, while she was still a bachelor student at the PXL in Hasselt. “There was a lecturer there who had just finished his master degree in Nijmegen. He told me about the degree and the teaching methods here, and I thought: that’s exactly what I’m looking for.”

Different directions

There’s a lot Anne likes about the 2-year Master in Molecular Life Sciences. “First of all, the fact that there are students from all kinds of different directions. Some are more focused on chemistry, others more on biotechnology, like me. There are students working on plant technology, vaccine development, you name it.”

“I also like that the work is already such a big part of the degree. There’s only one day of class, and grades are based on assignments rather than exams. You can bring to these assignments the challenges you face in your workplace. I learn a lot by speaking to other students and seeing how they approach things in their respective areas. It feels like I have more colleagues than just the ones from Synapse.”

Extra skills help

The Master in Molecular Life Sciences offers more than just a deepening of your lab skills and research knowledge. “It’s about putting everything you’ve learned in the bachelor program into practice. And getting extra skills that help you become a complete researcher. Like presenting, interpreting data and figures, critically reading scientific articles, and chairing meetings. Also, you learn to develop your personality so that you can make the most impact as a researcher.”

“Besides the fact that I really like working in the lab, I’m also thinking about the long term. At some point, I might want to develop into a manager in a research institute. This master degree also prepares you for a role like that. I wanted to keep my options open, so if I get tired of working in the lab, I might be able to do more theoretical research, for example with interns under me.”

No escaping English

The degree is taught in English, which can be challenging for some. “I never really liked English”, Anne says with a smile. “But I wanted to challenge myself, so I did both my bachelor minor and end project, and now my master degree, in English. In fields like biotechnology, there’s no escaping it.”

“At first I found it hard to write papers, for example, but I’ve grown to like it. And if you’re not sure about your English, don’t worry. You get academic writing classes, which are very helpful, and you can always ask for more support.”

Future prospects

Anne doesn’t know yet in which specific field she expects to work in the future. “At the moment, I’m fully focused on my master degree, my current internship and the ones after that. And that’s enough for now, seeing that it’s already quite difficult to find the right internship in this field, because companies aren’t so eager to share information about their projects. I’m sure I’ll figure it out though, and I’m very happy with where I am now.”  

Want to know more about the Master in Molecular Life Sciences program? Check the website

Photo David van Haren