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- Thijs Ettema
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I started my studies at Macquarie University (Sydney, Australia) where I did a Bachelor of Advanced Science (major in Biology). During my undergraduate degree, I greatly enjoyed two brief, but highly rewarding research internships and my coursework on molecular biology and genetics. I found it fascinating how a string on DNA nucleotides can provide clues about the evolution of traits and characteristics – a historical record of sort.
My experiences in Australia made me choose my current Masters programme, the Erasmus Mundus Masters Programme in Evolutionary Biology (MEME, www.evobio.eu). A great feature of this programme is that students have the opportunity to carry out research projects at several universities, which allows them to explore different aspects of evolutionary biology. My first project was three months long and was supervised by Susanna Coelho and Agnieszka Lipinska at the CNRS in Roscoff (France). Here, I investigated how fast genes on the brown algal sex chromosomes were evolving and the potential evolutionary forces acting on them. My next project, six months long, was at Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich (LMU, Germany) where, under the supervision of Jochen Heinrichs, I studied the biogeographical history and phylogeny of a small clade of liverworts.
I am currently doing my final masters project at the Ettema-Lab where I am co-supervised by Henning Onsbring Gustafson. What greatly attracted me to the Ettema-Lab is their exploration of some of the most fundamental questions about life such as ‘how did the first eukaryotes come about?’. My project focuses on a group of protists (unicellular eukaryotes) called ciliates, which use hair-like cilia on their surface for feeding and locomotion. In particular, I am using single cell RNA-seq to answer questions about the biology of two ciliates isolated from in Stadsskogen in Uppsala.