University students have a key role in research projects that are carried out at ISGlobal. They are essential, and each one does an amazing and indispensable job. In the case of the BiSC project, since its inception, more than 30 students have been involved and have performed various tasks within it, helping the ship move forward. On this occasion and reaching the final phase of recruitment, we also wanted to make them participants in the project website. We delved a little deeper into their world and what they experienced first-hand and interviewed two of them, Andrea Cabero and Pol Jiménez, who are currently collaborating on the project.
Name: Andrea Cabero and Pol Jiménez Arenas
Place of Birth: Lleida and Barberà del Vallés
Andrea and Pol at Biomedical Research Park of Barcelona (PRBB).
- To begin, could you tell us something about yourself? (What did you study, where were you born, or how would you define yourself?
Andrea: I am currently finishing my Biology degree. I was born in Lleida and lived there until I started university at Barcelona. I define myself as a positive person, I move around in everything that motivates me and arouses interest. I like to take care of the people around me and the people I love. Friends and family are fundamental pillars in my life; I consider them referents and a great source of motivation. Also, I always like to have a personal project in hand (purposes, courses …)
Pol: I was born in Barberà del Vallès. I define myself as a person with a curiosity for many fields of study. I’m very observant, and I love learning about the realities around me. My interest in health led me to decide to study the Human Biology degree at UPF. This has given me a lot of knowledge about the disease, on many levels: molecular, cellular, organs … However, we had barely touched on the causes that led a person to get sick, and the factors that were protective. or risk for it.
- How did you end up deciding to do the internship within the framework of the BiSC project?
Andrea: It struck me that I could work on neuroscience from a clinical perspective because it’s very much in line with my academic concerns. Also, I think this is a project with a very direct application and can have a big impact.
Pol: I found the BiSC project through PubMed. Reading about environmental research in neurodevelopment I found the group led by Jordi Sunyer at ISGlobal. As the project is so extensive and had so many parts to work on, I found it to be a perfect place for me as it would allow me to learn very diverse things.
- Could you make a short summary of the different tasks you have done during the internship period?
Andrea: I have supported the prenatal follow-up of the volunteers and the clinical visit of the 32 weeks of gestation, where anthropometric and clinical measures are taken, a neuropsychological test is performed, etc. I have also collaborated in the preparation of material for the collection of biological samples, and in their transfer and organization. Finally, I was in charge of digitizing forms in the study databases, monitoring documentation, and drafting the relevant protocol.
Pol: At the beginning, I started organizing and logistics of the volunteers ’documents, entering all the consents, questionnaires and monitoring all the samples collected in the databases. At the same time, I got started in data management, understanding how databases work, how to manage and harmonize them, correcting possible errors, etc. All of this helped me a lot to understand the project from a holistic point of view, seeing how much information was moving and what was being studied specifically within BiSC. Now in March I also started working as an environmental field worker, visiting the volunteers at 12 and 32 weeks and the babies at 6 months. I carry NO2 tubes and devices that measure environmental exposure (temperature, movement, light, etc. with Smartphone, USB and Actigraph).
- What do you think have been the skills you have been able to exploit and improve by doing internships in a project like ISGlobal?
Andrea: Above all, teamwork, analytical and critical thinking, and communication (teleworking adds a bit of difficulty to communication, especially in a large project like BiSC, where constant interaction between many people is needed). In addition, I acquired a vision that I was completely unaware of what a research team means, how it is organized and how it works. I have also become aware of the importance of economic resources and how, unfortunately, they limit scientific progress.
Pol: In short, I think touching on so many things within one project has given me an idea of all the tasks that are within public health research. It has helped me to organize myself, to be very methodical with what I do, and to know the importance of programming within the projects that work with this large amount of data.
- Could you define in one sentence your experience collaborating with the BiSC project?
Andrea: One word is enough: “family”. So, as a family, I want the volunteers to feel good, and that’s how I felt about being welcomed. The enthusiasm and effort that everyone puts into it makes the BiSC family possible and creates this special bond between team, project, and volunteers.
Pol: I think the words entertainment and learning define very well how my stay in the group is going.
- Would you recommend other students to join this project and be part of it?
Andrea: Totally! And more if you are not clear how to face the future work and/or academic, as it usually happens to many students at this vital time. Through BiSC I have been able to take a look at different areas and learn from great professionals from various fields. Not everyone has the privilege of visiting the Pascual Maragall facilities, accessing the Hospital de Sant Pau, or the PRBB. A very enriching experience in a great work environment!
Pol: And so much! I think people with very diverse interests like me and eager to work will really enjoy a project like this. In addition, the colleagues I met at BiSC are all beautiful people and always willing to teach you.
- Leaving aside the work environment, what other hobbies do you have in your daily life?
Andrea: I don’t usually have a lot of free time every day, but I can go hiking with my friends or cook with my parents. When I have longer periods, I try to travel and sign up for cultural exchange projects.
Pol: One of my favorite things to do is listen to music, of all styles, and I actually spend my day with headphones (I do a lot of the project work with headphones on). I also love sports and cooking (both cooking and trying all kinds of recipes).
- And finally, have you thought about whether you would like to continue in the world of research once you finish your internship?
Andrea: Well, yes! To be honest, before doing my internship at ISGlobal I didn’t contemplate it much. Perhaps it is because he was unaware of the whole aspect of clinical, translational, and epidemiological research. With BiSC, I discovered the epidemiology and the vast field of study it covers. Now I’m curious to know more.
Pol: Yes! I would like to continue studying public health and delve into the future in the world of research in environmental epidemiology.
Thank you so much for opening your world to us and for being actively involved in the project!
More than 30 student have collaborated with BiSC project and we would like to thank each one of them:
Carmen, Alex, Amanda, Carla, Maria, Nerea, Laura, Judit, Mariona, Amaia, Pol, Eva, Xavier, Laia, Maria, Mariona, Helene, Andrea, Anna, Laura, Zoraida, Paula, MArina, Neus, Clara, Cande and Ada.