Life Sciences student Bernardo takes his time to explore California: 'You really need a car here'

Three years ago, Portuguese student Bernardo Luís came to HAN to study Life Sciences. Wanting to travel as much as possible, he decided to cross the Atlantic for an internship in Irvine, California. “I want to learn about the different scientific approaches used around the world.”

Chemistrystudent Bernardo Passos Ramos loopt stage in Californië

It’s a peaceful morning in the house where Bernardo Luís currently lives in Irvine, California. Occasionally, a dog can be heard coughing in Bernardo’s room. “It’s the landlady’s dog”, he says with a smile. “I’m taking care of it for a couple weeks while she’s away.”

During his last few years of studying at HAN, Bernardo has also developed a friendly relationship with his landlord in Gendt, a village near Nijmegen. It suits the relaxed Portuguese student, who likes to spend his free time either playing games or going out to dinner with friends. “In Portugal I also liked to go sea kayaking, but of course I couldn’t really do that in Nijmegen.”

Funding from Portugal

Bernardo has been in California for a couple of months now, the end of his time in the US is near. He decided to look for an internship in the United States with the help of funding from his home country. “I’m very lucky to have that. And I aim to use it well. I’d like to see as many different labs as possible, to learn about different scientific approaches used around the world.”

Not surprisingly, Bernardo is particularly pleased with the weather in his new hometown. “Most of the time it’s beautifully sunny and warm here. It’s very different from the Netherlands, but also from Portugal. I also like my location, I’m quite close to the sea and my house overlooks a small river that flows there. It’s very nice.” 

Even though the beach is just around the corner, Bernardo hasn’t visited often. “My landlady lent me a bicycle, but every time I want to go, it suddenly starts raining”, he says laughing. “You really need a car here. But it’s okay. For now, I’m concentrating on doing my work and making plans at the university. I’m quite busy with my internship.”

Research on Parkinson’s disease

Bernardo is doing his internship at the Department of Neuropharmacology at the University of California, Irvine. “It’s a project on Parkinson’s disease. I’m trying to find a possible correlation between a specific receptor in the brain and the disease. There are some hypotheses about what this receptor does, but it has never been tested.”

It’s a different domain from the direction he took for his bachelor degree in Life Sciences at HAN. “I did my specialization in molecular pathogenesis (cancer biology), which is more about genetics, molecular biology, and cell biology.” 

He likes the subject matter of the internship, but it can be challenging at times too. “I have to work with animals. I know it’s still a necessity for some developments, so I thought it would be easier. But I’m finding it quite hard to give them injections for instance.”

'The Netherlands will always be an option for me'

Bernardo doesn’t know what the future holds. He might travel some more, but he might also come back to the Netherlands. “I’m still very divided. Professionally, I have a general direction. But where I want to pursue it, I don’t know yet. The Netherlands is actually a good option, because I enjoy my life there very much. It will always be an option for me.”

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Photo Bernardo Luís