From Burma to Singapore, Sydney and Odense
A person on a bicycle in snowy weather. That was the first thing Mon Oo Yee received in an email from her PhD supervisor at SDU, Professor Amelia-Elena Rotaru from the Department of Biology.
The 29-year-old PhD student was born and grew up in tropical Burma but is not afraid to go after what interests her. After completing her high school exams in Burma, she went to Singapore where she earned a diploma in molecular biotechnology at the Ngee Ann Polytechnic Institute. Next, she travelled to Sydney and attained a Bachelor of Science degree in microbiology.
- I wanted to continue my studies in Europe. I searched about and found the PhD position at SDU on naturejobs.com, where many PhD positions are advertised. The choice of positions in Europe is much larger than in Asia and Australia, says Mon Oo Yee. The young researcher knew that the capital of Denmark was called Copenhagen, but she had never heard of Odense:
- I thought it could be interesting to live in a small city. When I first came here I was surprised that everything was in Danish. I thought that the text on things like road signs would be in both Danish and English. It was difficult to find my way around and also hard to find things in the supermarket, but everyone was very helpful, and Danes are good at speaking English, says Mon Oo Yee, who has now lived in Odense for 3.5 years.
Mon Oo Yee is employed in a 4+4 position. This means that she has four years to write her PhD thesis because the last year of the master's degree is included in the PhD appointment.
- My research is about the physiology of electroactive microorganisms. I examine microorganisms which have the potential for biotechnological application. It's important to gain knowledge about the electrical characteristics in microorganisms. It could help us find new sustainable solutions for fuel. It's important to me to research in something that can help the planet and reduce climate problems, says Mon Oo Yee.
The young researcher also finds time for social activities:
- I'm part of a researcher group with Amelia-Elena Rotaru, and I share an office with six others who are also working on their PhDs. I like going to the many parties we have at the Department of Biology, and the summer in Odense is wonderful with all the music festivals, says Mon Oo Yee.
Mon Oo Yee would like to stay in Denmark and at SDU when she has completed her PhD:
- It would be great to live here permanently, but my visa will run out. If I don't get a full-time position at SDU, the world will once again be my oyster, smiles Mon Oo Yee.