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UCSD environmental chemistry student working towards a degree in Spain

For five months, the student moved to the European country, where he devoted himself to a project related to plant pathology, linked to an important research center.

Jean-Pierre Molina m.Jose Retamal, a last year student in environmental chemistry at the Catholic University of Santisima Concepcion (UCSC), described the exchange he had between the last months of 2022 and the beginning of 2023 as a positive experience.

Specifically, the student worked on his research project at the Higher Scientific Research Council (CSIC) at the Zidane Experimental Station, an entity associated with the Spanish Ministry of Science and Technology. In turn, its specialists are associated with the University of Granada.

The exchange was made with the support of the UCSC International Relations Department and the UCSC Faculty of Science, as well as the contact of academic Dr. Marcia González with María José Pozo, the professional who supported José Retamal during his stay. “Professor Marcia recommended María José, who is a very proactive professional, and from day one we started working and she guaranteed me in everything. I went with an internship contract, which allowed me to work. Participate in conferences and field trips. I also met other professionals from the center.”

From the very first moment, José Retamal sets out to work with the goal of getting results in training time, which means a challenge. “I felt very comfortable, they taught me what they could. I learned about molecular biology, a subject I hadn’t mastered. Our work was complementary to another PhD student. I supported entering some data. They told me that if I worked systematically, I would. That’s how it was.” I completed everything practical there and am now working on writing.”

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To get to this point involved continuous work, which took between 8 and 12 hours a day, from Monday to Friday. “It was about working towards my degree, but I also associated with researchers working in other labs or departments. I wanted to get the most out of the experience. The idea was to learn and absorb as much knowledge as possible,” he affirmed.

The title project deals with plant pathology, in which I sought to analyze interactions between endophytes and tomato plants. Additionally, it means monitoring the plant’s growth and resistance to tomato-related pests and diseases. “We all work there. We start with seed germination until harvesting and subsequent analysis. They work in different departments, in laboratories as well as in the laboratory, ”he commented.

At this time, José Retamal is writing his dissertation to be presented during the first semester of 2023. This experience, in addition to opening up borders, getting to know new ways of working and professionals, has also allowed him to test himself on a personal level. “I’ve never traveled outside of Chile and made the leap in Europe. I supported myself with another UCSC exchange partner who traveled to Granada. Then I met more people. It’s an experience that I recommend, the important thing is that they dare and put themselves to the test,” he concludes.