I am in my early thirties and live in Berne, Switzerland with my husband and daughter. A biologist by training, I currently work part-time as science officer for a government-funded organization. When I’m not working or spending time with my daughter (which is rare), I enjoy outdoor activities, reading a good book or sharing a meal with friends.
My studies in Switzerland
After returning from a year in Canada, where I took courses in political science, I studied life sciences for my undergraduate degree at the University of Lausanne. For my Masters program, I chose “Medical Biology” and further specialized in Neurosciences. In my Masters Thesis, I studied cell death in neuronal cells, and investigated the protective effects of a small molecule.
Going to Oxford
After receiving my degree, I was keen to go abroad for my PhD studies. Moving to a different country is to me a bit like drawing on a fresh page: an opportunity to extend life and personality into new directions. That I ended up in Oxford was the result of a string of lucky circumstances.
I will be completely honest and say that I found starting out at Oxford very challenging. I felt overwhelmed and intimidated by the grandeur of the place, the crowd of ambitious, smart people from all over the world, and last but not least the complete freedom and responsibility my supervisor gave me to define my own research project. It took me a while to realize that although Oxford resembles Harry Potter’s School of Wizardry on a postcard, research there is not done by magic, but by hard work and real commitment.
My degree at Oxford University
For my DPhil, I worked on a project studying brain development, primarily using mice and rats as models. In particular, I investigated a population of neurons which is prominent during fetal development but drastically declines in numbers around birth - suggesting that these cells play an important role during early brain development, but become redundant afterwards.
My research was predominantly lab-based, and I had the privilege to learn and use several advanced tools and techniques in my field. I was lucky to be a member of a research group where collaboration and team work were central, and essential. I worked side by side with dedicated and smart people from all around the world. What I had first seen as intimidating became, over time, one of the greatest pleasures of being at Oxford.
Life as a Berrow Scholar at Lincoln College
There is a corner in my wardrobe that I, sadly, rarely use these days: it contains all the beautiful dresses and high-heel shoes I bought in Oxford. At Lincoln College, life occasionally seems like a long string of three-course meals, gatherings and celebrations - and many of these events are among my happiest memories. More importantly, though, Lincoln was also one of the places I could go when things were not going as well. Among the other Lincoln students and the staff, there was always someone willing to lend a friendly ear and help with advice.
Upon leaving Oxford
I left Oxford on a Friday the 13th with a big suitcase and an almost bigger belly. One month later, my husband and I became new parents of a wonderful baby girl. For a while, our life was turned on its head and everything not related to feeding, changing or soothing a desperate newborn faded into the background.
Finding an interesting part-time job after maternity leave turned out to be the challenge I had expected it to be. But after several months of intensive networking and job-hunting, I found my current position and regained stride, combining my early interests in policy with my first hand expertise in research.
My life today
For the last two years, I have been living with my husband and daughter in Bern. On three to four weekdays, I work as scientific officer supporting an expert group in various tasks - from writing and editing reports and summaries to organizing conferences and workshops. The rest of the week I spend with my daughter on playgrounds around town, the local zoo and nearby forests. We remain in close contact with friends from Oxford and other former Berrow Scholars, and try to make regular trips back to the UK.