News - December 19, 2019

You on campus - 'One characteristic that stands out is students' devotion to their subject'

Anne van der Heijden

After finishing his second Master’s in Amsterdam on Plant Biology, Andriy Volkov (25) from Ukraine recently started a PhD at WUR on plant cell polarity.

Andriy works in the Biochemistry lab where he researches various fundamental mechanisms. As he explains, ’It is not yet understood how a plant cell knows what is up and what is down, or where the inside of the cell is and where the outside is. How does the plant’s sense of direction work? You can imagine it’s important for the plant to send its nutrients in the right direction but how does it do that? And how does it make sure no nutrients are lost?’
The opportunity to explore this uncharted territory in combination with his interest in cell biology and his previous experience are what led him to apply for this particular PhD. ‘It is exciting to find topics that no one has ever investigated before and to be transforming the foundations of the field.’

In the two and a half months that Andriy has been in Wageningen, he has noticed that WUR is very different to the universities in the Netherlands and Ukraine where he studied before. One characteristic that stands out is students’ devotion to their subject. ‘The students are basically enthusiastic and down to earth, and focused on delivering good research. There was a more competitive and status-oriented attitude at the other universities’. The large Plant Sciences department and many opportunities in this field have helped Andriy soon feel right at home.

It is exciting to be transforming the foundations of the field

As for the festive season, Andriy will be experiencing a proper ‘Christmas sandwich’. Since Christmas is two weeks later in Ukraine due to the Orthodox calendar, he will be celebrating it first in the Netherlands and then in Ukraine. This means a double Christmas with a New Year in between.