Do you want to use a microscope to study cells, but also understand how the microscope itself works? Do you want to design and synthesize molecules that can target specific molecules, cells or organs? What chemical reactions happen in the body when taking medication? Are you looking for a diversity in courses and a multidisciplinary approach to scientific questions?
In this degree programme in Life Science and Technology (LST) you will learn how to find answers to questions like these. This degree programme combines elements from a variety of disciplines, including chemistry, physics, biology, mathematics/computing sciences and pharmacology. You will learn how to use this knowledge so you can look at problems from different scientific angles.
Our lecturers study the intricate details of living organisms, each with their own perspective. If we want to understand signaling through our nervous system, we must understand electricity and charge differences across biological membranes. If we want to make more effective drugs, we have to understand the chemistry involved in creating drugs – and what happens to those drugs in the body.
These are just a few examples of the things we explore. By the time you start this programme, numerous other new research projects will undoubtedly have started up. You're bound to find something that arouses your interest.
The programme combines courses and aspects from the complete range of natural disciplines
I decided to study Life Science and Technology, because of its interdisciplinary character. This entails basically that it combines courses and aspects from the complete range of natural disciplines. So, you will follow in your first two years courses covering all kinds of topics, where one may be more biology focused while another course may be chemistry oriented. For me this was ideal at the time since I did not yet fully know what fields I liked most and wanted to pursue. The first two years allowed me to figure out my own interests.
Currently, I am in my third year and doing the specialization Molecular Life Science which mostly combines chemistry and biology. I am really interested in all the chemical processes going on in the human body that allow it to function as it does. So, really focusing on the molecular interactions that occur between proteins and ligands. Before I started my specialization, I followed an introductory minor in Philosophy. Compared to LS&T this was something completely different, yet I found it a very interesting and inspirational half-year. So, I decided to also continue with the Bsc. Philosophy of the Life Sciences, which hopefully will allow me to apply a philosophical perspective to issues in the life sciences.
After my specialization, I am planning to continue my studies in the masters Biomolecular Sciences and Biology. In the Msc. Biology, I will follow the Science, Business and Policy track which among other things includes a half-year internship at a biotechnological consultancy company. In this way, I hope to be able – after my studies - to combine my academic skills and enthusiasm in a more business-focused environment.
The variety in courses prevents boredom and creates diversity
I decided to study Life Science & Technology because I’m interested in the world of science. I think it’s super cool and fascinating how our body is composed of cells and even smaller; molecules that can form such a complex organism which can move, think and feel. I enjoyed math and chemistry in high school, biology was interesting most of the time and physics I either hated or loved depending on the subject. Now that I am in my second year of LST I know better where my interests lie, although I am still unsure what master’s I want to pursue after my degree. Luckily there are still many directions I can choose from since LST is so broad and interdisciplinary!
This year we started with a biology- and chemistry-related course (applied microbiology and bioinorganic chemistry) and also followed a three-week lab course, which was super fun! The second block consisted of more physics-/math-related courses. The variety in courses prevents boredom and creates diversity. Every student in our degree has different specialities and qualities which creates this great opportunity to work together and learn from each other. Besides the scientific knowledge I have acquired so far, I’ve also learnt to step out of my comfort zone, to not be afraid to speak up and to actively participate in class (which I am still struggling with sometimes, to be honest).
Nobel prize-winner Ben Feringa recently mentioned in an interview he started studying again from a biomedical book, just like first years, so he better understands ‘the language’ of researchers in the medical field*. This felt like a confirmation to me of the value of our interdisciplinary bachelor. At the interface of different scientific fields, many awesome discoveries are still yet to be made!
*[ https://www.npostart.nl/het-wetenschappelijk-jaaroverzicht-2022/23-12-2022/BV_101408971 ] (at 40:55)
Life Science and Technology perfectly intertwines vast theoretical knowledge with valuable practical laboratory work and scientific writing skills.
Science has played a key part in my life for as long as I can remember, however it was only in high school that I actually found a true passion for Mathematics, Chemistry and Biology. I knew I wanted to help people further on in my career, but I was not inclined towards becoming a doctor or going into one scientific field in particular. This is why, for me, studying Life Science and Technology at the University of Groningen felt like a perfect fit, since it is such a broad English taught bachelor's programme that perfectly intertwines vast theoretical knowledge with valuable practical laboratory work and scientific writing skills.
Considering LS&T encompasses courses from all the fields of science, I was expecting it to challenge me at times and was concerned about adapting to a more self-study approach and to cultural factors related to the Dutch higher education system. Luckily, despite the hardships I’ve encountered, I've also been greatly surprised by how everyone in university, from staff to fellow students, has always happily helped me understand and apply concepts we use in Organic Chemistry or Microbiology or even Quantum Mechanics.
After graduation, I'm thinking of doing a masters in a field that combines drug development with either neuroscience, immunology or genetics. They are all fields I'm passionate about and good entry points for the research I want to pursue in the field of neurodegenerative or autoimmune diseases.
Besides my studies, I'm active in the life sciences’ study association, GLV Idun, chairing the Career Committee in organizing various events throughout the year. I'm also working a couple of jobs part time and desperately trying to make time to go to the gym.
Overall, I consider student life to be a great and challenging time of one’s life, and doing Life Science and Technology at the University of Groningen has certainly helped me grow as both a (future) professional, but also as a person who can be independent, manage their time right, study efficiently and have fun with my friends.
There is still so much to discover
I currently work as a PhD student in the Molecular Microbiology group, under the supervision of Dr Billerbeck (billerbecklab.com). During my undergraduate studies, I followed course units in general subjects such as ecology, maths, biochemistry and genetics, plus a Minor in medicine, and I found myself intrigued by immunology and microbiology.
I took part in the IGEM competition and started to develop an interest in synthetic biology and biotechnology. I really enjoyed all the research internships during my Master’s degree programme Medical and Pharmaceutical Drug Innovation, so I knew I wanted to continue in that direction.
We work with killer toxins. These proteins are produced by yeast, which likely helps to compete for nutrients by killing other yeast and fungi in its environment. Killer toxins are interesting for many reasons, one particular reason being the rise in antimicrobial resistance, which urges the need for novel effective antimicrobial compounds. Some killer toxins can kill important human pathogens, such as Candida glabrata, and may be helpful in fighting these infections in the future. We isolate yeast from the environment to find novel killer toxins, investigate the properties, activity and function of these toxins, and use directed evolution to engineer them.
When I arrive at work in the morning, I usually check whether the yeast or bacteria for my experiment have grown, or I analyse the results of experiments carried out the day before. We meet weekly to discuss our results and to help each other solve any problems we may have come across. I spend part of the day in the lab, doing experiments, and part in the office, analysing the data on the computer or planning new experiments.
It is amazing to see how life works at the molecular level, and there is still so much to discover about the world that we live in! Hopefully, what we learn will help us to build a better and more sustainable world. We have the freedom to follow our curiosity, to come up with hypotheses and to try them out in the lab. I like how my work is both theoretical and practical. Sometimes, when you encounter problems during experiments, it takes some time to figure things out – but with a little patience and perseverance, we are usually able to solve any challenges together.
Questions that intrigue me
I chose this degree programme because I am interested in how life works. How did we develop? How will we continue to evolve? These are the questions that intrigue me. In addition, I really enjoyed studying biology in secondary school, especially the internal processes of cells and animals. By following this degree programme, I was able to continue to learn about bodies and evolution whilst also gaining all the skills required to become a successful scientist and researcher.
The objective of the Life Science and Technology degree programme is to understand life. An interest in all living things can take you far. Since this programme comprises course units from many different disciplines, there will always be at least one course unit per semester that you will really like.
LST is a very, very technical take on the natural sciences. It
is much more than just biology, chemistry, or physics. Most of the
course units that are taught in the programme are organized by
other degree programmes at the Faculty of Science and Engineering,
but are then modified to some extent. This means that the cell
biology course unit that you might follow might be mostly similar
to the one taught to biology students, but the course unit on
optics will lay more focus on practical applications (microscopes)
than an average physics student might ever need. Most often, the
course units will be intertwined and combined to create something
with a practical outcome.
General impressions aside: this degree programme is very interesting. In my opinion, it is definitely one of the harder programmes offered at the moment. Not because the course units are too difficult or the lecturers do not provide proper explanations, but because you have to be good at everything.
Being a student can mean so much more than just studying
Hello! My name is Thomas Westerhuis, I am a 22-year-old student and I have been living in Groningen for four and a half years. I started studying at the Hanze University of Applied Sciences, where I did the Bachelor's programme in Biology and Medical Laboratory Research.
During those years, I developed a love for the complexity that life has to offer. The unlimited processes that need to work together flawlessly to keep the biological cell functioning have always inspired my awe and wonder. Based on these interests, it was only natural to start the Life Science and Technology programme at the University of Groningen.
Besides studying, Groningen has a lot of different aspects to offer to give you a full student life. During your studies, you can embark on various social, sport, or other activities which allow you to meet a lot of different people. As for me, I became enthused by GLV Idun, the study association for the Biology, Biomedical Engineering, and Life Science and Technology programmes. This year I became part of the board as chair of the association. As chairman, it is my job to manage the association and the board. My main occupation is making sure that the day-to-day tasks are fulfilled, but I also ensure that we reach the goals set in our policy, and make sure that we keep track of our long-term vision.
I would recommend that you become active during your time at the University, as being a student can mean so much more than just studying. Whether you join a committee, a board, or a student assistantship at the University. Judging from my own experience, such positions can greatly benefit your personal, social, and organizational skills. Above all, I want to emphasize that it is also a lot of fun to take these kinds of responsibilities.