My name is Romeo Dubini, I am 23 years old, I am originally from Milan (Italy) and, last but certainly not least, I am an Uppsala University alumnus! I graduated in July 2016 from Universita' degli Studi di Milano - Bicocca with a BSc in Chemical Sciences and Technologies. I moved to Uppsala shortly after, in August 2016, and lived there for almost two full years, interrupted only by a period of 6 months during which I attended courses at ETH Zürich as an exchange student. I am currently living in Munich (Germany), and pursuing a PhD degree in NMR spectroscopy from LMU München.
I graduated from Uppsala University in July 2018 with a MSc in Organic Chemistry. Additionally, I attended Basic Swedish courses at Uppsala University for a total of 15 ECTS.
I decided to apply to Uppsala University for a number of reasons, some are mainly academic in nature, others more personal. Within the first ensemble, I would like to mention Uppsala University’s great reputation worldwide, being recognised as a top 100 institution amongst universities and its enormous scientific and non-scientific contributions achieved throughout its multi-centenary existence. From a more intimate point of view, I felt the need to "go out and explore the world". Overall, I have never regretted the decision I made when choosing Uppsala University.
Uppsala University is one of the very few institutions worldwide to offer a comprehensive specialisation in pure organic chemistry. Most other universities I considered were offering MSc degrees correlated to main scientific themes (i.e., biological or material science), while I was looking for a broader specialisation. This was especially important to me, since my preferences within the field of chemistry were not crystal clear when I applied, in the middle of my BSc third year.
From an organisational standpoint, I can only praise the flexibility and dynamicity of not only the course I attended, but the university system as a whole. Probably the fact that the academic system in Uppsala has been present since 1477 gave them time to adjust to it perfection! It feels almost like the city is built to support students, by design.
What I loved about the courses I attended is their heterogeneous nature, something I was really unused to. Almost every course I attended was lectured by at least three or four professors, who contributed to a single main subject from within their area of expertise. You could definitely feel their engagement and purpose during the course.
The atmosphere during classes was energetic and enthusiastic, probably enhanced by the different stimuli that each distinct lecturer or lab assistant provided. Campuses are well connected to the city centre and residential areas with both buses and bike paths, it was not uncommon to meet somebody you know in the middle of your way. The two main scientific buildings (Angstrom Laboratory and the Biomedical Centre) are very close to each other and provided a reference for students. Probably the most peculiar thing about student life there is the so-called "Nations", i.e. student associations which provided me and fellow students with some of the best times while there. It is sufficient to subscribe to any of the 13 nations in order to get access to them all, and enjoy their frequent events and social life! In addition, if interested, one can also apply to work in the nations! I personally only helped as a waiter from time to time, but I know some who actually acted as managers of some of those!
Although Uppsala offers a wide range of career counselling and supervision throughout the process, I am guilty of not having taken advantage of it, for the most part. An exception is represented by the coordinator of the Master Programme in Chemistry, Christer. He substantially helped me in the process of application for my exchange studies and in the set-up process for my Thesis.
Once graduated, I went back to Italy and spent time with family and friends, either travelling or visiting. Between September and December I worked as an intern for a start-up company in Milan. Shortly before Christmas I accepted a position as a PhD candidate in Petra Rovo's group, at LMU München. My scientific research focuses on the unravelling of the structural transitions of macro biomolecules (such as DNA, RNA or proteins) through nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) spectroscopy.
The reason why I started my PhD in the field of NMR is actually the passion and the competence with which one of my professors during my MSc introduced me to the field. I was extremely fascinated by NMR's ability to provide atomically resolved information about molecular system, although at the price of a very high complexity of analysis. I believe he managed to make the subject so interesting, that I actually ended up doing that for a living! I am not even an outlier, since one of my classmates and friends, Hermina, started herself a PhD in the same field, at Uppsala University!
If I could change something about my stay in Uppsala, it would be the use of my free time! I regret specifically not travelling nearly as much as I could, or should have done. I believe Uppsala University's lecture and exam timings allow for such short trips and from time to time, experiencing a new place, together with friends or alone, is priceless!
To fellow chemists, I suggest trying to appreciate and dive into the wealth of culture and inputs the scientific community offers at Uppsala University. Try to attend as many conferences as you can (the Nobel prize yearly lectures are an absolute must!) and profit from the many exchange opportunities you will be offered with! In a word, be proactive!
My advice to newcomers in general it to view Uppsala University not only as the place where you study, but as a life experience, something I struggled myself with! Uppsala University can provide students with so much more than courses, and these aspects are an integral part of what elevates this institution over its peers.
Read more about the Master's programme in Chemistry, specialising in Organic Chemistry