28 Aug 2020 Going Abroad: My Insightful Internship in Paris
Magdalene Teoh Sook Han was always interested in biology and chemistry, resulting in her wanting to explore and study a degree programme with both subjects together. Besides that, she also wanted a course that could provide her with a wide job scope. This has led her to consider pursuing her undergraduate studies in Pharmaceutical Chemistry. In addition, the modules in the Pharmaceutical Chemistry programme intrigued her and the drive that she could potentially discover and formulate new drugs, sealed the deal.
Elaborating further, Magdalene said, “I choose IMU to further my studies, mainly because it was the only university in Malaysia offering this course. At first, IMU never came across my mind as a potential place to further my studies. I was looking elsewhere. However, somehow a single newspaper advertisement changed my whole perspective and I decided to enrol here. Since then, IMU has been my support to potentially achieve my career choice.”
“As part of the Pharmaceutical Chemistry programme, I had the opportunity to undergo my industrial attachment under the Chemistry Department at the Sorbonne University – Ecole Normale Supérieure, Biomolecules Lab in Paris, France for 8 weeks from 6 January 2020 – 7 March 2020. At this internship, I worked as a research assistant under the supervision of Dr Nicolas Delsuc and Koudedja Coulibaly; a final year PhD student. I worked on Koudedja’s research project which was aimed to synthesise a catalase mimic in the form of a peptide-metal complex. Catalase is an antioxidant enzyme which breakdown hydrogen peroxide into water and oxygen.”
“I must say that the studies in the Pharmaceutical Chemistry course made it easier to adapt to this internship programme as it is mainly research based. The programme provided a strong foundation in technical skills, knowledge and exposure which facilitated better understanding with regards to most of the research that I was conducting.”
|What did Magdalene learn at her Internship?|
|During this internship, Magdalene feels that she has learnt a lot, mainly in the usage of various scientific instruments. One of it was the Clark electrode, which is an instrument that measures electrical signals emitted during a reaction. This instrument was used to detect oxygen that was released during the breakdown of hydrogen peroxide.
“Besides that, I had the opportunity to use the UV-Visible spectroscopy which measures the absorption of light and Fluorescence spectroscopy which measures the emission of light. In addition, I also used the High-Performance Liquid Chromatography (HPLC) which is an instrument for the separation of compounds in a mixture. These instruments are used for the analysis of the compounds synthesised. In addition, I also learned how to quantify data from images obtained from the in-vitro testing of the complexes using the ImageJ software.”
Magdalene admitted that the main challenge that she faced was her inexperience with the handling of instruments used during laboratory work. However, after noting down all that was briefed about the instrument and seeking help, she was finally able to address the problems faced while using them. Another challenge that she faced was the accent of the people around her, although they were able to speak English. Therefore, she realised that she sometimes had to pause and take a while to understand what they are trying to convey. However, this was just a minor issue, which she overcome by constantly asking questions and seeking proper clarification.
“it is a great opportunity to be able to work in state-of-the-art labs with advance equipment. At the time when I was interning in Paris, there was ongoing public transportation strikes. My supervisor was very understanding and allowed me to start work later if I got delayed due to the strikes. On top of that, I was able to experience different working cultures”
“On the weekends, I took the opportunity to explore Paris and its sites. I was also amazed by how complex the public transportation systems is (in a good way). Moving from place to place was easy as the overall public transportation was very accessible and convenient. Moving around the city also became easier with the help of the Citymapper App. Overall, my internship abroad was a great experience. I learned many things about research in a short period of time and was exposed to a different working culture and environment.”
“After completing my internship, I took the opportunity to travel to London. Like Paris, London also had a complex public transportation system which was very accessible and convenient. I wish that the public transportation in Malaysia would be as extensive.”
“My advice to Juniors for their internship is to do some research about the place you are going to and be up to date with the current news in that country. Learn a few phrases in their native tongue, as it will provide some form of help during conversations as you move around the place. Do not be afraid to ask, as most people will be willing to help you.”
“As for my future plans, although I like conducting research, I would also love to explore and gain industrial work experience in the manufacturing industry and maybe sometime in the future, I would be able to work in cosmeceutical line as a formulator.”