Alice's Arqus mobility in Leipzig!

Photo of Leipzig.

Under the Call for Research Stays, the Arqus Alliance funds short/medium to long-term exchange programmes for postgraduate students, ESRs, senior researchers or professors for promoting existing and emerging collaborations in different areas and intensifying cooperation in research at partner universities. In the framework of this funding scheme, Alice Massera, PhD student at the CNRS (Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique), has enjoyed a 3-month research stay at Leipzig University (Germany). She has just returned from this mobility and the Arqus Communications team has interviewed her.

Discover her experience!

  • Could you introduce yourself in a few sentences?

My name is Alice, I am Italian and I am currently a PhD student in neuroscience at the CNRS, the French National Centre for Scientific Research. I’m doing a thesis on macaques, more specifically a longitudinal study on the effect of early social adversity. I’m in my third year and should be able to defend my project next April. During my studies, I have already had the opportunity to go on Erasmus twice and I think it is really important to go abroad!

  • You went to Leipzig thanks to Arqus, how did you hear about the Alliance?

I received an email with information about the Arqus Calls for Research Stays from the Université Claude Bernard Lyon 1 which was forwarded to me by my institute. There were only three weeks left to apply, but as I already knew that I wanted to go abroad during my thesis, so it didn't take me long to decide and to start arranging my trip! That's how I was able to go to Leipzig University in Germany for three months.

  • Why did you choose to go to Leipzig?

I know a few people from Leipzig in my lab whose work focuses on chimpanzees, and talking to them made me want to go there. Other people outside the lab also recommended the city to me. I had been told that it was an interesting city, both from a professional point of view and a personal one. As I didn't know Germany at all, I wanted to find out what it's like to be a doctoral student there and to see how people live. I thought it would be a good mix between the professional and the personal side and of course that it would be a good experience to add to my CV.

  • What did this stay allow you to do in the framework of your thesis?

In France, I mainly work with macaques but, later on, I would like to focus more on humans, especially babies. In Leipzig, I had the opportunity to study this aspect but I was also able to use other research techniques and different technologies. It was interesting and gave me experience on a practical level. Overall, I was able to meet and exchange with many researchers who showed me how they conduct their research. Besides, they also gave me feedback on my research. It was a good networking experience!

  • What funding did you receive to go?

I benefited from different grants for the journey but also once I was there. This allowed me to keep my flat in Lyon whilst still going abroad, which is not necessarily easy. It's really cool to be able to get that kind of help.

  • Would you recommend this type of mobility to other PhD students?

Yes, I think everyone should do it! In Italy, it is really common to go abroad, we are encouraged to do it and see what is going on elsewhere. I find that here, the professors don't really push us to go abroad, I am the only one who has had this kind of experience in my institute. When you are doing a thesis, you often think that you don't have time to go abroad. On the contrary, I think that research is based on communication and exchange. The fact that you can choose how long the mobility is going to be, between 2 weeks and 3 months, is really flexible and interesting. Even if it doesn’t have a direct impact on our thesis research, meeting people from a different culture is really enriching for the future. I think it’s also great to do it through Arqus, thus, you are protected, you have funding, it is really the best time to take the plunge!

News prepared by Doriane Duvault, Communications Officer of the Arqus Alliance at the Université Claude Bernard Lyon 1.