Student experiences

… collected from students of previous versions of the EMABG programme

Karina studied in Oslo and Wageningen

Karina Hauge Johansen from Norway studies from 2012-2014 at the Norwegian University of life sciences (NMBU, Norway) and Wageningen University (WU, The Netherlands).

“My dream job is to work on breeding programmes that improve the welfare of commercial animals”

My name is Karina (24) and I come from Norway. I finished my bachelor degree in Animal Science the spring of 2012 at the Norwegian University of life sciences (NMBU). I had decided quite early that I wanted to take a full Master’s degree, and planned to continue for two more years at NMBU. During writing my bachelor thesis, I got an email from one of the study advisers. She wrote that she had an idea, since I had told her before that I was not sure of which specialization within animal science I wanted to follow. She told me that there was this international program called European Master in Animal Breeding and Genetics where I could choose two universities to study abroad. I could be abroad for the full two years, or only one year, all depending on what I wanted. The program would give me an international double degree, and a chance to custom make my study plan, so I could get “the best of both worlds”. Being in a true international environment would also give me invaluable experience and input from different cultures.

At first I thought that this program sounded way out of my comfort zone, and it was much easier to just stay at home in my own country. I already had an apartment, friends and everything. So why leave? But then again, I had started to figure out that it really was the genetic and breeding part of animal sciences that came closest to my interest. Maybe that was what I wanted to choose for my specialization?

Several days later I could not get rid of the thought of me missing out on something. The more I thought about it, the more boring did my original plan sound. But I did not quite feel that I was done being at NMBU, and I did have the opportunity to choose NMBU as the first university, and another one abroad the next year. Maybe that could be the solution. I finally came to the conclusion that I wanted to apply for it. If I got in, I would do it, if not, I would stay at NMBU. It was a win, win situation.

At the end of summer, I got the message that I was accepted to EMABG, and I felt really excited! The introduction course in The Netherlands was nothing but fun and inspiring, and the world suddenly felt a lot bigger at the same time as I felt safe and welcomed. To meet so many nice people from all over the world was exciting, and I made new friends right away. Now I can’t wait to do the second year away from home.

I have not given that much thought in what I want to work with after graduation. I am generally interested in most production animals, and also the wildlife, and it is a lot of subjects within animal breeding that I find intriguing. But I have always been an animal welfare activist, so my “dream job” would be something that can give me the opportunity to save endangered animals through sustainable breeding programs, or be a part of bettering the welfare of commercial animals by making breeding programs that will protect the genetic variation and include more health traits.

KarinaWageningen and Oslo

David studied in Wageningen, The Netherlands

David McGill from Australia applied for the European Master in Animal Breeding and Genetics and studies at Wageningen University (WU) from 2011-2012.

“The 6 universities provide a wealth of knowledge and experience as well as a diverse array of opportunities for the future”

“When I was searching the internet for places I would like to study, the EM-ABG course really caught my attention due to its strong international connections. The link between the genetic research groups of 6 European Universities is a great asset to the course as it provides a wealth of knowledge and experience as well as a diverse array of opportunities for the future.

Another interesting aspect that drew me to this course was the link to research outside Europe, especially in developing countries. Many of the academic staff involved in this program has carried out research in places like Africa and Asia. I find this really interesting as not only do the scientists get to carry out research in their field of choice, but they are also given the opportunity to have a real impact on the lives of the people in those places.

I hope that this program will provide me with a sound basis of knowledge regarding genetic improvement in livestock as well as professional links I can use in my career to have research opportunities throughout the world.”

DavidWageningen

Fuyong studied in Vienna and Wageningen

Fuyong Li from China participated in the EMABG programme from 2010-2012. He studied one year at BOKU in Austria and continued the second year at Wageningen University in the Netherlands.

“The EMABG programme provided a good preparation for achieving my goal to pursue a PhD position.”

Fuyong was born in China. He was fascinated by animal genetics in high school. He did the Bachelor program of Agriculture in Animal Science in Northwest A&F University, China. Afterwards, he sought to experience higher standard of education in Europe and gained the opportunity to join the EM-ABG program. “I found out about the program via the internet. The 5 involved universities of this program have the most advanced education and research level in terms of Animal Breeding and Genetics, which is extremely beneficial for my knowledge and ability improvement.”

During the first year of the EM-ABG program, Fuyong went to BOKU in Vienna. “My first year study experiences in BOKU are memorable and awesome. Here we could make our study plans ourselves, so I took various courses in different fields including Molecular Genetics, Quantitative Genetics and Biological Science. I also acquired an internship chance in the University of Veterinary Medicine Vienna (Vetmeduni) to learn some laboratory skills in respect of Molecular Genetics.” During his second year, Fuyong has studied in Wageningen. “First, I have done an internship to prepare for my MSc thesis in the field of Dairy Cattle and Milk Science. Then, I followed some courses which prepared me for my future research. Afterwards, I did my MSc thesis .”

Next to the quality and the possibilities in the EM-ABG program, Fuyong also liked to study in Europe. “This program enables me to experience multinational European cultures. I built good friendships with numerous colleagues from different countries. Now I possess great friends from all over the world.”

Fuyong always aimed at doing a PhD after finishing the EM-ABG program, and he has found that position at the University of Alberta, Canada in the department of Agricultural, Food and Nutritional Science.  “This learning and research experience could build a strong platform for my future study. Pursuing pursue a PhD and being a scientist in this area has always been my career goal. The EMABG program provides me a good preparation for achieving this goal.”

FuyongWageningen and Vienna

Mahlet studied in Wageningen and Vienna

Mahlet Teka Anche from Ethiopia started her European Master in Animal Breeding and Genetics in 2009 at Wageningen University, the Netherlands. For the second year of the programme she moved to Austria, to study at BOKU University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences in Vienna.

“I met lots of people from all over the world and experienced the life in Europe for the first time.”

“My name is Mahlet, I’m from Ethiopia. I finished my bachelor degree in animal and range sciences five years ago from Awassa University, College of Agriculture, in Ethiopia. After that, I started working as a graduate assistant for the department of animal sciences, for the nutrition section in the University where I graduated.

After working there for almost 2 years, I decided to pursue my Masters and then applied for two scholarship programs, one for the EMABG scholarship and also for Vilr-uos scholarship In Aquaculture. Fortunately, I was offered both of the scholarships. Even though it was tough to decide between the two fields of study, after thorough research on what subjects will be covered in each of the scholarships, I finally decided that I wanted to pursue my study in Animal breeding and genetics.

Then three years ago I came to The Netherlands and did my first year masters study at Wageningen University. Even though it was a challenging year for me, I enjoyed my stay here in Wageningen. As I expected, I was satisfied by all the courses I took and the thesis experience I had. I met lots of people from all over the world and experienced the life in Europe for the first time in my life.

After that I went to Vienna, Austria for my second year study. I also enjoyed my stay at BOKU, University of Life Sciences. And finally, I graduated by the end of June, 2011. One important feature of the EMABG program that I like the most is the fact that we have to rotate among the different Universities. For me, moving from one university to another gives me an opportunity to improve my weakness that I thought they were during my first year study.

While I was doing my second year masters study, I applied for a PhD program in Wageningen. And I got the position there and now, I’m in my second year of my PhD. The project focuses on Modelling of interaction between individuals and its consequence of selection for improved resistance to infectious disease. I’m working with two supervisors, one from Animal Breeding and Genomics group (ABGC) and one from Quantitative Veterinary Epidemiology (QVE). I really like what I’m doing and I’m hopeful to be a successful PhD candidate.”

MahletWageningen and Vienna

Amabel studied in Wageningen and Paris

Amabel Tenghe from Cameroon started her EMABG programme in 2008 at Wageningen University in the Netherlands. In 2009 she continued the master course at AgroParisTech in France.

“The MSc program I’ve participated in really gives me an advantage in the work that I’m doing now.”

Amabel was born in Cameroon where she did her BSc program at the university of Buea. She took the program of zoology. She loves to do research and when she saw that there was an opportunity to apply for the Erasmus Mundus program in Animal Breeding and Genetics she applied.

“I got accepted for the program and was invited to the university of Austria but my visa was not accepted, so I ended up to study my first year in Wageningen. In Wageningen I took courses for half a year and did a thesis the other half. My thesis was on quantitative genetics in fish.” For the second year of the course Amabel went to Paris to do again half a year courses and the other half a thesis. This time her thesis was a genome wide association study in pigs.

At this moment Amabel is pursuing her PhD in Belgium. She works at the GIGA research institute which is located within the University of Liege. “My work is on genomic selection in beef cattle. The MSc program I’ve participated in really gives me an advantage in the work that I’m doing now. In my work I use a combination of the research methods I’ve used in both my theses. The fact that I already had my position before I was even graduated from the Erasmus Mundus program tells me that this program is really a good start for anyone’s future.” But Amabel also wants to warn future students: “Do not go solely for the sponsored program. You will need devotion to complete it. Before you apply define your point of interest, plan your future and know where you want to end up.”

AmabelWageningen and Paris

Vicky studied in Wageningen and Vienna

Vicky Hunt from the USA participated in the EMABG programme from 2007-2009. She studied both at Wageningen University, the Netherlands, and at BOKU in Vienna, Austria.

“The EMABG program was a truly unique cultural and educational experience.”

Participating in EMABG was an amazing, eye-opening experience for me. I got to meet and make friends with people from all over the world, and I got to live in two European countries for long enough to really get a feel for life and culture there. I went to WUR (Netherlands) and BOKU (Austria).  Living in Vienna, Austria, was particularly interesting, and I felt that I was able to reach a good balance between school work and social/cultural life.  I learned to waltz (poorly!) and had a great time visiting museums, music venues, and palaces in Vienna. I also have fond memories of visiting farms for field trips in the countryside in Austria, which was absolutely beautiful.

I am interested in conservation, and EMABG faculty facilitated this interest in my thesis work.  Following completion of my Master’s degree, I began working at Lincoln Park Zoo in Chicago, Illinois, as Coordinator of Wildlife Management. After three years at the zoo, I began working at the Chicago Botanic Gardens, where I am Adaptive Management Projects Coordinator. In this role I helped develop decision tools for conservation projects such as native prairie restoration. I am currently also a PhD candidate at University of Illinois at Chicago, in the Ecology and Evolution Department.

I didn’t really know what to expect when I applied for EMABG.  Overall, it was a truly unique cultural and educational experience, and I am grateful for having had the opportunity to participate in the program.  I’m still in contact with good friends I made through the program, and I hope to maintain these friendships well into the future.

VickyWageningen and Vienna