Boushra Dalile is from Syria and studied Cognitive Neuroscience: Mind and Brain - Master's Programme at the University of Skövde. She is now a PhD researcher at KU Leuven, Belgium.
Why did you choose the University of Skövde for your Master’s studies?
– During my Bachelor's degree in psychology, I developed an interest for disparate topics. On the one hand, I found myself drawn to cognitive psychology and was curious to understand the neural basis of learning, memory, and decision making, how they go awry, and how can they be modified. On the other hand, I was fascinated by altered states of consciousness, particularly dreaming, and was eager to know how such intimately subjective experiences can be studied in a scientific manner. The Cognitive Neuroscience and Philosophy research group at the University of Skövde housed both of my interests, together with training in philosophy and research methods during the Master's programme. It struck me as the perfect place to kick start my career as a researcher. In addition, I was keen on studying abroad in a non-English speaking country.
How did Skövde prepare you for your career?
– At the time I joined the university, the research group was offering the ideal combination of rigorous training in research methods and philosophy to tackle cognitive neuroscientific topics, as well as an entirely new lab environment – the CogNeuroLab. As students, we were encouraged to come up with our own research ideas, learn – from scratch – as much as possible about the hardware and software associated with data collection and analysis, and pilot and test our experiments with the help of research volunteers. This involved a steep learning curve and considerable trial and error, rendering an ideal balance between challenges and rewards. Despite the short duration of the Master's programme, we were encouraged to be independent and were given the freedom to "play around", yet regularly reflect on the challenges and plan our progress with our supervisors. For me, the passion for problem solving and critical thinking grew exponentially because of this. Having had experiences in labs in Germany and Belgium, I realise that having been in Skövde at that time equipped me with the necessary research skills and was instrumental to me being able to rigorously tackle diverse research topics. This is also partly the reason why I was not afraid of switching fields after my Master's and was able to pursue an interdisciplinary PhD in biomedical sciences.
What advice do you have for students who want to attend a Master’s programme in Skövde?
– If you're interested in a research career following your studies, having or developing a deep interest in the broad topic of the Master's programme is critical for an enriching experience. So don't be shy to be proactive and seek advice from your faculty to this end, or have a chat to see how things can be tailored to help set you on the right path early on!
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