Master of Science in Neuroscience
Øystein Brekk graduated from NTNU in 2011 and takes his PhD at the Biomedical Research Foundation, Academy of Athens (BRFAA).
I finished my Master of Science in Neuroscience early in June 2011, my thesis topic was neurogenesis in the mammalian hippocampus, and its impact on memory function. Methodically, my work centered largely on the generation of recombinant retroviral vectors for use in future in vivo studies, but the group as a whole conducted several electrophysiological studies as well. My background for studying Neuroscience is from the Faculty of Social Sciences and Technology Management at NTNU, where I took a bachelor's degree in Social Sciences specializing in Psychology. I wanted to study Neuroscience at NTNU because its close ties with the Kavli institute makes it one of the most solid neuroscience programmes out there. The large availability of rockstar PI`s to mentor master's degree candidates is very unique compared to most European universities. Collaborations with the St. Olavs Hospital opens many additional possibilities for those more inclined towards clinical research as well.
For the time being I'm in Athens doing basic research on Parkinson's disease. What a normal day at the office consists of depends on what I have to concentrate on at any given time. It could be writing/reading articles, or performing practical laboratory work. Often it is a combination; lab-work the whole day, but with reading/writing in the breaks due to the protocols. I try to start the work around 0900-1000 AM, and the work goes on for 10 hours (minimum) in order to get things done.
Everything from my master's degree has been useful in my work, since both my master's degree and my PhD are in the field of Neuroscience. Different laboratory techniques have been of huge importance (cloning, immunohistochemistry, handling of animals etc). I got my position here in Athens around six months prior to defending the master's degree. It is advisable to send out applications for PhD positions as well as other positions when you are halfway through the master's degree. In this way one has concrete offers to asses, something that means a greater possibility of choosing something that you genuinely want, rather than taking a desperate last-minute-decision. And in order to really know what you are interested in working with, I think it is important to start up with the master project as early as possible (and also be sure not to have any retake exams hanging over your head). The last months should exclusively be used for writing and revision of the draft. This process never goes as smooth as one wants. By spending the last months on writing, one saves oneself from getting overwhelmed at the end of the whole master process. This I consider to be very important since the grade you get on the master project represents 50 % of the credits from the whole degree (something that also means that the work load should be 50 %).
From my point of view the most important is to be in contact with other students (master's student as well as PhD students and Post Docs that are working at the same department as your self, or/and in the same research group). This is, in my opinion, highly important for completion of the master project and in order to get a good understanding of the relevant literature.