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Postgraduate Scholarship for IMU Alumna with Passion for Neuroscience Research

09 Aug 2017

Erna binti Laere’s passion towards neuroscience research grew during her A-level studies in INTEC when she learnt about neurotransmission. Keeping this passion alive, during Semester 5 of her undergraduate Medical Biotechnology programme at IMU, Erna chose Neurobiology module as her elective module. By doing this module, Erna found how complex is the system in our brain. This passion grew even more when she was doing neuroscience research as her final year project under Dr Anna Ling Pick Kiong’s supervision. While writing the dissertation, she realised that a lot more need to be discovered for a better understanding of neurodevelopmental disorders and their treatments. Even though a myriad of therapies present, none of these can cure diseases like Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease and Schizophrenia. That is why for her postgraduate study, she chose schizophrenia as her research project. It is to fulfil her own curiosity towards psychological disorders.

Erna binti Laere started studying her medical biotechnology degree at IMU in 2013 and graduated three years later. She is currently a full-time Master of Science student in Universiti Tunku Abdul Rahman (UTAR), Sg Long Campus, choosing this path due to her passion in the neuroscience research. For her postgraduate studies, she received a scholarship from UTAR due to the good results that she obtained during her undergraduate studies in IMU. Erna’s interest in neuroscience led to her involvement in a project related to schizophrenia.

“Luckily, Medical Biotechnology programme has equipped me with a lot of basic yet crucial laboratory skills. I would say that the practical sessions I had during my study in IMU as well as internship experiences greatly improved my laboratory skills. Frequent practical classes in every semester help me to overcome my weakness in handling micropipettes as well as familiarising me with the techniques that are constantly being applied in research activities such as protein characterisation, molecular biology, phytochemical, microbiology, histology and buffer preparation.” “Moreover, during the internship programme that I had at the Institute of Marine Biotechnology, Universiti Malaysia Terengganu (UMT), I further applied what I have learnt during my practical classes in IMU to conduct my studies as well as learn several new techniques like medium preparation and characterisation of marine bacteria. I chose to do the internship in marine biotechnology because I wanted to widen my knowledge as well as improve my laboratory skills. I also wanted to experience the working environment in a public university.”

“With the knowledge and hands on skills that I learnt, I found myself easily adapting to the laboratory environment at UTAR. I also did not have any major problem in conducting research and handling the equipment.”

“Throughout my study in Medical Biotechnology programme, I realised the importance of each of the modules designed for the students. For example, the practical sessions in Applied Biotechniques and Community Health module in Semester 6 comprised several crucial laboratory skills such as DNA extraction, bacteria species identification, cell and tissue culture techniques, polymerase chain reaction (PCR) and electrophoresis. Despite enhancing my laboratory skills, this module has also improved my confidence level. As a Medical Biotechnology student in IMU, I have been exposed to a lot of oral presentation activities in modules such as Neurobiology, Applied Biotechniques and Community Health as well as Legal, Ethics and Social Aspect of Biotechnology modules.”

“My confidence level is also boosted after joining the Graduate Employability, Adaptability and Reshaping (GEAR) programme, a programme held by Malaysian Bioeconomy Development Corporation Sdn. Bhd (formerly known as Malaysian Biotechnology Corporation Sdn. Bhd). Throughout this programme, my classmates and I were required to participate in every scheduled activity.”

“One of the activities was the skills to introduce ourselves during interview session. For this activity, I had been chosen to do my introduction and the speaker gave few comments and tips for me to improve myself. Definitely the tips are useful as I was able to apply them during my interview session with several project investigators. We also need to do a lot of things in a group which required our teamwork spirit. Gladly, I found myself able to voice out my opinion to the group members. In addition, we also had been taught how to groom ourselves so that we look more confident and professional. All in all, the GEAR programme taught us on how to improve our confidence level in and out; from our spirit to our outer appearance.” In conclusion, Erna feels that  the Medical Biotechnology programme in IMU has been the best platform for graduates who want to be well-prepared for their future careers.

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