ERIBA student wins Saxion Graduation Award

30 September 2016

We have many excellent students at ERIBA, but sometimes one of them really stands out. The perfect example is Maria Sarkis Azkanaz. Maria, former student in research group of Floris Foijer, recently received a Saxion award for best graduation project. Although she has been trained as a technician, research is really “her thing”, and she hopes her newly started master in Biomedical Sciences at the University of Groningen will bring her back at ERIBA the coming years.

ERIBA is an international institute. It has employees from 22 nationalities and many students come here from all over the world to do an internship. Since the main language used in the institute is English, you expect to speak English with a student that has only lived in the Netherlands for five years. Maria, however, is fluent in Dutch. Not only has she completed a bachelor in ”Biology and Medical Laboratory research” since she came to the Netherlands from Iraq in 2011, she also managed to squeeze in learning a full foreign language in that time.

Maria did her internship in the group of Floris Foijer, under the supervision of Bjorn Bakker. Her bachelor thesis, “Impact of Chromosomal Instability on Cell Proliferation in Lymphoma Cells” describes the work she did as part of a follow-up study to Bjorn’s most recent publication: ”Single-cell sequencing reveals karyotype heterogeneity in murine and human malignancies” (Genome Biology, 2016). Her project focused on determining the consequences of this heterogeneity on the phenotypic character of cells. Both Bjorn and Floris were very impressed with Maria and the work she did in her 4 month internship. And Maria is impressed with the research group as well: “The group of Floris has such a great atmosphere!”, she says with a big smile on her face. “And the internship taught me what I want to do with my life: I want to work in research!”.

At the defence of her Bachelor thesis in June, Maria was told that her graduation project and report were nominated for the Saxion Graduation Award. This meant that she had to “defend” her thesis again for an external jury. In the end, the jury decided her graduation project was one of the three best of within the Saxion University of Applied Sciences. At the opening ceremony of the year the winners were announced and for this occasion all three of them got the opportunity to explain the work they did in their internship during a short movie.

Maria is of course very happy with all the praise, but her focus is clearly directed at the future. Her ideal is to work towards becoming a PhD student. This means that she will have to take her education a step further. No wonder she has already started with the pre-master for Biomedical Sciences at the University of Groningen. “I really do not see myself doing the same work day in day out, and as a researcher no working day is the same” she explains with great enthusiasm. Floris is pleased with her decision and has already informed her she is welcome to come back for an internship any time.

© Foto's PattyPeppe

© Photos PattyPeppe

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