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”It’s like a science family”


It’s like a science family

As researchers well know, learning and producing new information takes place in a collaboration between scientists. The University offers an encouraging work environment for encounters between young doctoral candidates.

One of the most well-known research groups in the University of Turku is the Molecular Plant Biology Unit that researches photosynthesising organisms. The doctoral candidates come from different parts of the world providing several different views and productive exchange of ideas for the group. The Unit has strong team spirit.

"When I came here, I immediately felt that there is a connection between the people working in the Unit. The atmosphere is very energetic and friendly – it’s like a science family, describes Steffen Grebe from Germany", who joined the group only recently.

"We’re a big research group so there’s a great deal of exchange of thoughts between people with different techniques. Many have worked here for a long time so wisdom has accumulated over the years", says Marjaana Rantala who completed also her Master's degree in the University of Turku.

University Staff Take the Candidates Strengths into account

In addition to receiving help from one another, the doctoral candidates can rely on the staff's support. According to the Finnish Doctoral Candidate Lauri Nikkanen, the strength of the research group is that the staff takes the students into account. "I have plenty of creative freedom and it really suits me. Some others like to have more structure", which is also provided here.

Interacting with the staff or other research groups is easy. Veronica Carbonell from Spain and Hariharan Dandapani from India are impressed with the equality within the Unit. "Co-operation is easy and our communication is very open. Instead of having a strict hierarchy like in some other countries, you can have a free and open discussion with a superior, which really facilitates the learning process", explains Carbonell enthusiastically. "There are no egos, so ideas are welcomed instead of being considered as challenging an authority. It’s not that common in other universities that instruments, ideas and knowledge can be shared in a large unit or a department as freely as here in Turku", adds Dandapani.

Leisure Activities within an Easy Reach

In addition to the atmosphere at University, the doctoral candidates appreciate the city as a welcoming environment. Luca Bersanini from Italy was impressed with the research articles written at the University of Turku and applied to study in Turku. During his time in the city, he has found several ways to adapt to his new home town. "The University has many services and activities, for example, the University Sports have an extensive and versatile sports schedule. Furthermore, many student groups and organisations provide different activities. So the University really offers a chance to feel at home here", says Bersanini who is currently finishing his doctoral dissertation.

Turku is also a great fit for students arriving from larger cities and countries. Steffen Grebe remembers how he was looking for a more peaceful place after living in noisy Berlin. Gayathri Murukesan from India appreciates that different places and services are so easy to reach in Turku. "I came to Turku six years ago. I have previously lived in India and the Middle East and travelled in many European countries. I’m very confident to say that I have found my comfort zone here in Turku. The city's size is perfect for me. More than that, I love that people are very honest. I have gotten lost many times and always received help from strangers", Murukesan reminisces.

Read more about Molecular Plant Biology at University of Turku 

Text and photo: Ilkka Hemmilä