Tell us about your job and what you do:
Since April 2019 I'm a PhD student at the University of Augsburg in Germany within the MONSOON Project, which is part of the Franco-German Fellowship Programme on Climate, Energy and Earth System Research "Make Our Planet Great Again". The MONSOON Project is investigating how human land use influences the vegetation-climate interactions in the semi-arid tropics.
I'm focussing on identifying drivers of land use management and changes, as well as their impact on the environment under ongoing climate change. I will spend several months in West Africa and South India to interview farmers and other stakeholders and work closely together with my collegues who specify on UAV surveys and land degradation.
Why did you choose to study at NMBU?
During the last months of my Bachelor's Degree in Biology at the Ludwig-Maximilians Universtiät in Munich I was looking for things to do once I would be finished. I collected a huge list of study programs, possible internships and job adverts. After applying for many of these, getting rejected by some but also receiving many acceptance letters, I decided that the Tropical Ecology and Natural Resource Management Master program at NMBU was the most interesting for me. So although I've never been to Norway before, I moved there within a week of having the approval of NMBU that I got the position. I really liked the course offer and that the Thesis would be 60 credits so I could do proper field work in a tropical country.
How have you benefited from your degree?
During my studies at NMBU I joined a great variety of courses in ecology, environmental research, statistics and in scientific writing. I learned things I was actually interested in and broadened my horizon. In addition I got to do extensive field work in rural India for four months to collect data for my Master Thesis. I did botanical inventories of agroforestry systems (home gardens) and interviews with farmers on fuelwood harvests from the adjacent Manas National Park.
I learned that I'm most interested in incooporating humans in natural science. I enjoy resarching how humans interact with nature, how they impact each other and the role of humans in ecosystems.
Any advice for future students?
Check out the courses of other departments! Some of them will be accepted in the curriculum, I can really recommend Food Security
And if you want to put the effort into it, find your own Masters project! I contacted dozens of NGOs, Conservation Institutions etc. and got to do a really cool conservation/development project in a rural village in Assam in India. I got hands on experience on how NGOs work but simulatenously got scientific supervision by my supervisor at NMBU