The diversity of neuroscience inspired Mikaela Laine to continue her studies in the international Master’s Degree Programme in Neuroscience after her Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology. She earlier studied at Cardiff University in Wales, but the high quality of the education in neuroscience at the University of Helsinki brought her back to her home country.
“In Helsinki, there are many top-ranking research groups in different areas of neuroscience. The Master’s Programme here is very flexible and extensive, offering courses in various fields of specialisation. That was the main reason I chose to study neuroscience in Helsinki,” Mikaela explains.
The students and the lecturers have a broad range of scientific and educational backgrounds, as neuroscience combines and exploits knowledge from multiple fields. The campus atmosphere is very warm and international.
“Everybody here is very excited about neuroscience and wants to cooperate. There are people from all over the world, every continent is represented. Different backgrounds create different viewpoints,” Mikaela says.
Students interested in neuroscience from the medical point of view have the possibility to conduct research on Meilahti Campus, where the Faculty of Medicine is based, as well as on Viikki Campus, the home campus of neuroscience. Studies also include hands-on work and laboratory demonstrations.
“In Helsinki, there is plenty of research on a wide range of topics, including for example how different receptors function, the cellular mechanisms of neuroregeneration and how disorders such as Parkinson’s disease and depression develop. There is active collaboration between different research groups both locally and internationally,” Mikaela commends neuroscience research in Helsinki.
Mikaela herself is especially interested in the neurobiological backgrounds of mental disorders and how psychosocial stress affects the brain.
“It seems that psychosocial stress predisposes to many disorders of the mind. I am interested in how stress affects different levels of the brain, from the cellular level to neuronal networks and behaviour. Some people get stressed more easily than others, but why? Research can help to pave the way to develop better treatment.”
Mikaela started her neuroscience studies in autumn 2014 and will complete her Master’s degree during autumn 2016. She’s planning to continue as a doctoral candidate in the Doctoral Programme Brain & Mind, working in her current research group supervised by Iiris Hovatta at the Neurogenomics Laboratory. As the Master’s Degree Programme in Neuroscience is very diverse, it prepares for different kinds of careers.
“I have also thought about other career options, but research is what is closest to my heart. The education at the University of Helsinki provides a good springboard for working with pharmaceutical enterprises, consulting or health technology. Typical employers of neuroscience graduates include pharmaceutical enterprises developing medication for Alzheimer’s or Parkinson’s disease, for example,” Mikaela describes some of the career options possible.
Mikaela is not hiding her excitement: “If you are interested in biology, chemistry, physics or psychology and the human brain, by studying neuroscience you can only learn and win!”