“This internship allowed me to considerably broaden my horizons in biology”

French International School Student at HKU-Pasteur

Uma, a 16 year old student from the French International School of Hong Kong, spent a week at the HKU-Pasteur Research Pole for an internship to learn more about working in the scientific field.

In the context of the HKU-Pasteur 20 th Anniversary, Uma is one of the students from the School who interviewed Prof Leo Poon, Prof Ben Cowling, Dr Vijaykrishna Dhanasekaran, and Dr Sophie Valkenburg earlier in March 2021. In addition, as for every year, other students from the French International School of Hong Kong will conduct a one-week internship at the end of June as a first step in the work world, we are always very happy to welcome in our lab those who choose to learn more about how we work at HKU-Pasteur.

Why did you come to the HKU-Pasteur Research Pole for your Internship? What motivated you and how did you hear about the lab?

The HKU-Pasteur Research Pole is one of the most renowned biomedical research centers in the world. As I plan on studying a biology related course after high school, immersing myself in the everyday life of this pole’s scientists was the perfect way to discover more about this scientific field. It was my Biology teacher who suggested that I should ask for an internship at the HKU-Pasteur Research Pole, otherwise I would never have imagined that such opportunities could happen to me!

What did you learn during your week here? What was the most interesting thing you did?

The week I spent here among the professors, Phd researchers and assistants, was one of the best learning experiences I ever had. This internship allowed me to considerably broaden my horizons in biology as I had the unique chance to participate in current scientific research, notably in an Intracellular Cytokine Staining experiment comparing vaccines for the Sars-Cov-2.

Did you have any specific expectation about working in a laboratory? What was the most surprising/unexpected thing?

I thought I would be observing all the experiments in the laboratory. Instead, I was offered the opportunity to manipulate some materials and machines that I have never even seen before, such as a centrifuge. I did not expect this at all which made my internship even more fascinating.

After this experience, would you consider a career in this field? If yes, would it be in Immunology, since you were in Sophie Valkenburg’s team for a week, or in another field?

Seeing scientists working everyday to contribute to our world’s development with their research definitely encouraged me to pursue my studies in this field in the future. Immunology is such an exciting discipline with so many mysteries that have yet to be understood. I am not sure whether I will be working on it or not, but I do know that I would like to at least study it further.