Kim Dierkes (2011)
VU Mentor: Al Reynolds
My name is Kim Dierkes and I am one of the three German summer students doing an internship at Vanderbilt University.
I was very fortunate to have Dr. Albert Reynolds as my mentor and work in his lab for my 8 weeks in Nashville. His group is mostly concerned with p120-catenin of cadherin mediated cell-cell junctions which is believed to play an important role in the formation of metastasis of tumorigenic cells. Working in this lab was very valuable to me as it was the first time I was able to do actual research on a project I am truly interested in. But I did not only enjoy my project a lot but also the extremely warm and friendly research team I became a part of. I had a great time!
When returning to Germany I will have one more year to complete my Bachelors degree in Biochemistry and Cell Biology at Jacobs University Bremen. Afterwards I would like to continue my studies. However, I am not yet certain which type of degree I would like to pursue. Since I am highly interested in both biomedical research, cancer biology to be exact, as well as patient care, I am currently collecting information about the advantages, possibilities and requirements of an MD/ PhD.
In retrospect I have to say that I learned a lot during VISRA. Apart from the many technical skills I was able to acquire, talking to my coworkers and other researchers and listening to their career stories impressed me the most. I came to realize that quite a few brilliant researchers have not taken the straight path of BSc, PhD, postdoc, etc. but rather took some detours in order to arrive at a job that they love and are fantastic at. This was surprising to me but helped me to be less scared of making "the wrong choice". Because in the end you will most certainly find the job you love.
And this is exactly my advice to others thinking about applying to VISRA. Stop worrying too much. You do not have to make a decision for the rest of your life now. Do what you are interested in and eventually everything falls into place.