I'm Nika from Slovenia and I'm the IVY volunteer at National institut of Biology (NIB). I've been here for 4 months now and i can tell that was one great decision.
I am working on project «Innovative Ecological Assesment and Water Management Strategy for the Protection of Ecosystem Services in Alpine Lakes and Rivers» (Eco-AlpsWater). The aim of the project is to improve the traditional monitoring approaches by using advanced DNA sequencing techniques such as metabarcoding. The new approach will make use of Next Generation Sequencing (NGS) to analyze environmental DNA in waterbodies (which allow rapid species identification at low costs, from fish to bacteria). We cooperate with Slovenian enviromental agency ARSO. There are also 6 other countries involved in this project - including 5 research institutions and 7 national/regional public authorities.
We've already determined the same protocol for water sample collection for all the countries. Currently we are trying to find the best protocol for eDNA isolation. It is important to be the same for all the countries, so we could compare our results. So our job now is to test different protocols for eDNA isolation, find out which one is the best for all countries and use it on predefined samples – in our country lake Bled and river Soča.
That kind of cooperation among different countries needs a good comunication. My mentor is the communication manager in this project and about that I've learned a lot from her. I've also learned how to work in a team and developed new skills – communication, presentation, autonomy, self-confidence, precision, lab work, progression in English language…
Now I have one month left to work here and I can't believe how fast it goes by and how much I've learned here. I am very thankfull for that opportunity and I recommend it to everyone. Take advantage of every chance where you can learn something new!