Charting Future Frontiers: Nolan’s Journey into Microbiology
While living and studying in Athens, CYA Fall ‘23 student Nolan Randal delved into a transformative co-curricular experience at the Hellenic Pasteur Institute. This institution, carrying a long scientific legacy, opened its doors to Nolan, providing him with a unique opportunity to explore the captivating world of biomedical engineering, in Athens.
Nolan discovered the prospect of volunteering positions while studying in Athens through conversations with CYA student ambassadors. Intrigued, he reached out to the CYA Student Affairs department. After conversations regarding his interests, there was a match with the Hellenic Pasteur Institute, where Nolan could gain hands-on experience in microbiology and diagnostic procedures.
During the semester Nolan had the opportunity to observe and work at the Lab of Medical Microbiology and the Diagnostic Department of Pasteur, witnessing procedures and lending a helping hand in experiments ranging from DNA extraction to gel electrophoresis. Guided by seasoned professionals, Nolan gained insights into the inner workings of a research institute.
“I learned so much about microbiology and diagnostic procedures. The ability to see how a research institute functions has been incredibly valuable, as it is an experience I couldn’t get at my home institution. I was able to learn variations in certain procedures, learn about different bacterial infections and how to eradicate them, and discover new research areas I had not yet been exposed to. Additionally, I learned how to use equipment such as a real-time PCR that I hadn’t used at my home institution. These skills will be useful in my later research projects and beyond.”
Nolan’s work at Pasteur wasn’t just a scientific exploration; it became a gateway to Greek culture. Working alongside local professionals and peers, he found himself seamlessly integrated into the vibrant tapestry of Greek life. The experience provided him with a deeper appreciation for the country’s history and an opportunity to forge connections with individuals who shared his passion.
“ I met so many incredible people with similar interests to my own through this internship. I became more integrated into Greek culture, as most people working at the Hellenic Pasteur Institute were Greek. The work environment made me excited to go there, it was a highlight of each week!”
For Nolan, this position was a catalyst for future aspirations. The hands-on experience at the Hellenic Pasteur Institute solidified his desire to pursue a Ph.D. in biomedical engineering. Inspired by the work environment and the impactful research conducted, he envisions a future where he contributes to similar endeavors.
As Nolan reflects on his study abroad experience, he describes it as nothing short of “a life-changing experience.” Beyond the laboratory walls, Greece became a canvas for cultural immersion. The historical tapestry of the country, coupled with the ability to explore Europe with ease, made his time in Athens truly unforgettable.
We asked Nolan what he would say to a future CYA student thinking about applying for a cocurricular position while in Greece.
“My placement while studying at CYA has been incredible, and I would encourage other students to do an internship while in Athens as well!”
Nolan’s journey encapsulates the essence of study abroad – a fusion of academic exploration, cultural immersion, and the pursuit of knowledge that transcends borders.