Institute for Biodiversity and Ecosystem Dynamics

Sergio de la Fuente van Bentem

Scientist at the Research and Development department, Syngenta

‘Biology was always my favorite course at high school, so I didn’t have to think twice about studying Biology. Amsterdam felt like the most attractive place to study, and I thought the UvA would be the best choice in the city. Looking back I think I couldn't have made a better choice! Although I wanted to become a field biologist studying animals in the wild, I gradually became interested in molecular and cellular aspects of biology.’

‘After the first year of Biology with many students (including Medical Biology students), I enjoyed the smaller groups and the more intense interaction with teachers much more during the second part of my study. Several professors and teachers, like Ben Cornelissen and Alan Musgrave, involved the students in scientific debates that were going on in molecular and cellular biology. At the end of my programme, Michel Haring and Teun Munnik inspired me even more and they all triggered my choice to go for a PhD in molecular biology.’

‘I did an internship in the Phytopathology group at the UvA, headed by Ben Cornelissen. They involved me in studying the interaction between tomato plants and a fungal pathogen, to achieve a deep understanding of the underlying molecular mechanism of plant disease resistance. I really enjoyed the combination of a great social environment and good science during this internship. For this reason I later applied for a PhD position in the Phytopathology group and I was so lucky that Ben gave me the opportunity!’

‘Since over two years I'm a scientist in the Research and Development department at Syngenta in Enkhuizen (The Netherlands). There, I'm dedicated to find solutions for disease problems in flower crops. Syngenta is a multinational company that sells both seeds of agricultural and ornamental crops, and biological and chemical plant protection products.

Although my current job is much more focused on final solutions to problems rather than on the fundamental science behind them, my learnings at the UvA (the way of setting up experiments and critical analysis of data) are very valuable in my current job. I really feel that thinking and acting scientifically helps me daily to assess problems in the best possible way. At the UvA, my former colleagues not only taught me science, but I can also say that socially I grew up there!’

Published by  GSLES

28 February 2017