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What do our students think of our PhD program?


"I'm a biochemist and I chose Plants for Life PhD program to further extend my knowledge on Plant Sciences, namely Plant Metabolomics. I chose this program also for the opportunity to study at ITQB NOVA and obtain a state-of-the-art training.

So far what I’m enjoying the most is the active community at ITQB NOVA and the international environment of the Plants for Life PhD program. This offers the opportunity to attend to research seminars from world-class researchers adding to our state-of-the-art training. The diversity of research groups associated with the program also allowed me to choose a research group that matched my research interests and design my own PhD project.
I would recommend the program to any colleague that wants to study Plant Sciences in a top research center, either in Portugal and/or abroad, with the freedom to choose your own PhD project according to your research career goals."

2nd year student, Ana Margarida Rodrigues


"Plants for Life PhD program was a natural choice for me. At the time I was already working in the plant science field, and I felt the necessity to proceed in my career. Plants for Life PhD program appeared as the best choice, approaching plant science from the fundamental to the applied field, that I believe were been crucial to shape my objectives as a scientist. Also the possibility to interact with researchers from different institutions at national and international level, as well as the possibility to work abroad within the involved institutes made this PhD my top choice.
Being one of the students awarded with an international fellowship I was able to integrate my PhD project in two distinct laboratories between Belgium and Portugal, in Root development lab (PSB) and in Plant Functional Genomics (ITQB). For me it has been of great value the possibility to develop and discuss my project between two laboratories that have different research lines and backgrounds. In here, the integration of different laboratories in the Plants for Life PhD program is a facilitator of collaborations between laboratories.
It has been a great experience to be part of this program and I would strongly recommend Plants for Life PhD program to colleagues that want to proceed in a career in the plant science field. The curricular year of the program has highly relevant core units with strong emphasis in technological innovation, and intensive formation on the most promising fields of plant molecular biology. Also I think this is suitable time to apply to this program, given the current global economic landscape and technology shifts towards more biologically-inspired solutions."

2nd year student, Ana Rita Leal


"I chose Plants for Life PhD program because of its specificity. It is a program specially design for plant sciences and although specific for plants, it cover a wide range of research lines diverse enough for anyone to find its place.

Personally what I liked most about the program was the fact that you have to write your own PhD project, this allowed me to perform a project that I like and gave me some flexibility that sometimes is hard to find.

I would recomend the program specially to those who want to follow plant sciences. The curricular units are broad enough to cover most of the research perform at ITQB NOVA in plant sciences and offer a good overview about the different research groups. Also, ITQB NOVA is a very well organized research institute and has a very good dynamic."

2nd year Student, André Folgado


"The International PhD Programme Plants for Life has been an incredibly positive experience for me. Working alongside some of the best Portuguese researchers in plant sciences, I have been able to grow immensely as a scientist. Their never-ending dedication to nurturing our development has also resulted in some amazing research and networking opportunities with the representatives of some of the best European Plant research institutions. The short but intensive curricular courses are enough to get the students with different scientific backgrounds up to date and ready for delving deep into their different theses. The external advisory board actively participates and co-ordinates with us directly, trying to know what can be improved, and empowering us as students in the shaping and bettering of the Programme every year. Being part of such an enterprise gives us a level of organization and critical mass that is unattainable with a more traditional FCT individual fellowship, which is one of the main reasons I have (and still do) actively recommended the Plants for Life PhD Programme in Plant Sciences to all my colleagues with an interest and passion for this area of the biological sciences."

2nd year student, Bruno Peixoto


"I chose to apply for Plants for Life PhD program out of my innate interest in plants and no better opportunity I could foresee where I can get to choose from so many labs specializing only in plant research. Apart from research, excellent opportunity and accessibility to interact with so many scientists and students from all around the Europe was a major draw for me to apply for this PhD Program. 

What I like most about the program is the sheer number of research groups associated with this PhD program from across the domain of plant sciences-both nationally and internationally. Apart from science, round the year excellent weather, proximity to beautiful sea beaches (atleast to the labs in ITQB NOVA and IGC) and Lisbon city center. What else can anyone ask for?

I would definitely recommend the program to those looking for a life changing scientific experience and not just working as lab rats.  

PhD programs such Plants for life give more opportunity to international students to apply who would apply and expect the entire process to be finished within 3-4 months rather than applying individual fellowship and wait for a year. Also international students who may not be from Portugal or Europe may not even know the process and the PI as one of the condition for individual fellowship is to know the PI and institute you would like to work with. This gives structures program like this an added advantage."

2nd year student, Chandra Shekhar


"Since my graduation, plants have fascinated me. The great interest that I have come to acknowledge in this theme has led me to expand my know-how and to specialize in this specific science. Therefore, I started working on my current job as a plant research in a company, and when my PhD studentship in industry was accepted, I started looking for a PhD program. My search focused on a program that would complement my training in this area that could give me a broader view in this large field, and also challenge and help me to discover many new things and people, as well as develop my skills and knowledge. So, I came across with the international PhD Program Plants for Life, which was exactly in accordance with all of my professional aims! One of the things that I appreciate the most about this PhD program is the way it allow us to leave our “comfort zones” and to “think outside the box”, even in thematic areas that we didn’t work with. In my opinion, it is an awesome program and to the ones that are fascinated with plants as I am and want to develop a promising career in the plant field, I absolutely recommend it!"

2nd year Student, Hélia Sales


"When I finished my master thesis I only knew I wanted to continue learning about biology and that I wanted to continue working with plants. Plants for Life seemed like a PhD program that would allow me to do exactly that. Up to now, what I liked the most was the flexibility I had to choose the labs I wanted to work on, and write my own project that would join the expertise of both places. Based on this, I would definitely recommend Plants for Life to every colleague that is passionate about plant sciences. I feel I have grown a lot as a scientist and as a person since I am in the program. It is not only the program but the environment around it: the colleagues, the classes, the project, the presentations and discussions but mostly the people I met during this process. Being a Plants for Life PhD student has been a unique experience in a great atmosphere to nourish a plant scientist."

2nd year Student, Joana Rodrigues


"The Plants for Life PhD Program is a unique opportunity in the country to advance your studies in Plant Sciences. It has a focused structure, associating the most outstanding plant research centers. It tackles the most important topics on Plant Sciences and provides the training and skills needed to successfully address relevant biological questions in Plant Biology. Until now, it has provided me the opportunity to develop my career on outstanding facilities, with support structures and equipment for a successful research activity. More so, it promotes knowledge exchanges, the development of a critical mindset, development of written/oral communication and networking essential for a successful career. For the above reasons, I believe the Plants for Life PhD Program provides all the training and the skills needed to achieve a successful PhD in Plant Sciences."

2nd year student, José Ricardo

"I chose Plants for Life PhD program because it seemed at the time the most complete program related to plant sciences but in Portugal and overseas with a very interesting scope on molecular biology and biochemistry.
At the end of the first weeks (which are filled with classes) I really felt that I have improved tremendously in that amount of time, not just my knowledge but most importantly the way I face chalenges and how to deal with a lot of pressure, which is willingly imposed by the teachers in order to take us out of our confort zone.
If someone is interesting in following studies in molecular biology, biochemistry or biotechnology focused on plant sciences, I would definitely advise them to enroll in this PhD program. This program is probably one of the best choices out there, not only because it has the participation of top portuguese researchers but also because it has a straight colaboration with other research centers recognized worldwide."

2nd year student, Luis Andrade


"I chose this PhD program because it is completely focused on plants, which makes it unique in Portugal. Furthermore is based in ITQB NOVA, a new research center with a lot of facilities.

What I like most about the program is the oportunity to see first the main areas of work developed in the different research groups (during the classes), that gave me the oportunity to choose and define my PhD project.
I would recommend the program, it's a very complete program with a lot of associated labs and institutions."

2nd year student, Margarida Sampaio


"I chose the Plants for Life PhD program because this is the program that, in Portugal, better covers core competences in Plant Sciences in key disciplines such as plant cell biology, metabolic regulation, genetic control of development and function, molecular physiology and plant adaptation to different environments, strategies in plant breeding, or plant biotechnology and sustainable agriculture. Moreover, within this PhD program, we have the opportunity of having classes and seminars and discuss ideas not only with very good researchers from Portugal but also with scientists from well-known plant sciences laboratories abroad.
Finally, at ITQB NOVA we have access to well-equipped laboratories and modern facilities and the scientific community is highly multidisciplinary, which allows us to establish contacts with researcher from other labs when needed. In addition to this, the courses of the NOVA Doctoral School, available for PhD students, are a great way of “open our mind”, and improve both personal and professional skills.
All these aspects are very motivating for developing our studies and to start a research career in Plant Sciences.
What I like most about the program is the fact that it has a strong scientific course component dedicated to Plant Sciences, but that also encourages us to meet and discuss ideas with people from different research areas, namely through the "free options" and "soft skill" units. The different disciplines across the program, from more fundamental research in plant cell molecular biology to more applied subjects such as plant breeding and sustainable agriculture.
I would definetely recommend the program."

2nd year student, Susana Leitão


"I chose Plants for Life PhD program because I wanted to do my PhD in plants but I lacked some fundamental knowledge on this topic, and this program would give the opportunity acquire them. The structure of this program was also very appealing, because in addition to the curricular units we have the opportunity choose different courses and workshops that meet our needs and interests. The program also highlights the opportunity to adapt the PhD plan according to our personal interests.
I found the curricular units of the first year extremely useful as they allowed me to build solid foundations important for my research. During class, we are taken out our comfort zone, helping us deal with time management and stressful situations. I also enjoyed the opportunity to have classes and seminars with leading researchers and to learn more about their work.
I would recommend this program to everyone that likes to be challenged and wants to expand their way of thinking. The program is associated with cutting edge laboratories, both national and international. During this course, you have contact with several researchers, giving you the opportunity to discuss your work with them, but also to start interesting collaborations."

2nd year student, Susana Lopes


"After completed my MSc degree in Chemistry, I was already convinced that I wanted to expand my acquired skills in analytical chemistry and mass spectrometry to address a wide variety of biological questions. Later on, already at the ITQB NOVA, I was challenged to apply my skills in the field of Plant Biology, which afterwards led to a huge increase in my motivation to pursue a PhD in Plant Sciences. The Plants for Life PhD program was truly my chance.

What I liked the most about the Plants for Life PhD program were some of the classes that were thought for people without a biological or agronomic backgrounds just like me. The classes continuously challenged us with different Plant Science related topics and stressed the importance of using multidisciplinary approaches to address our biological questions.

I would recommend the Plants for Life PhD program to all students interested in giving its own scientific contribution to the Plant Sciences field, regardless their initial scientific background. Indeed, it can make the difference and give rise to scientific questions that no one has asked before."

2nd year student, Tiago Jorge




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