Lotta is doing a double doctoral degree
Doctoral studies have been an essential part of my future plans ever since I was six years old. In 2012, I was finishing my M.Sc. thesis at the Paper Converting and Packaging Technology research group (TUT) as I got the chance to join a research project dealing with active food packaging technologies. At around the same time, open positions at the Doctoral Programme of TUT’s President were announced.
During the course of research at TUT, I became more and more interested in food microbiology. I was closely cooperating with several research groups related to microbiology and completing respective courses at TUT and University of Helsinki. My own research was also clearly orienting towards microbiology. Since TUT does not have facilities for food microbiology, I started looking for international universities that were involved in the field and found the Department of Food Safety and Food Quality at Ghent University (Ghent, Belgium). I contacted the responsible professor, and just a couple of weeks later I booked plane tickets for my first visit in Belgium.
Name: Lotta Kuuliala
Programme: Science and Engineering (major: Chemistry)
Year of graduation: 2012
Home country: Finland
I had found out that Ghent University is actively promoting double degrees, or so-called joint PhDs. I was happy to see that both my Finnish supervisor and the Belgian professors were encouraging right from the beginning. A personal double degree agreement was established to define the regulations and requirements concerning my studies and the dissertation process.
Completing a double degree is challenging in many ways, but highly rewarding. It can be a way to combine the strength of two universities in order to study for an international degree that a single institution cannot provide. A double degree is still not common on the employment market, whether it is unique or originates from an established double degree programme. Experiencing different working environments and research approaches is very beneficial, since this way the candidate can bring new insights into the research in both participating institutions. Apart from academic achievements, it will also offer valuable cultural and personal experience.
Being a part of two different research groups is one of the best parts of completing a double degree. Not only does it allow access to a wider range of research equipment and facilities, but also broadens the horizons in general. Having colleagues in two universities is also something that I am especially grateful for.
The most enjoyable thing in my research is the opportunity to learn. Seeing the results of this continuing process is pleasing, but the process itself is even more. During my study path, starting from M.Sc. in chemistry and ending up in food microbiology and materials science, I have needed to learn a lot of new information and methods in a short time. The next step will be post-doctoral research, probably abroad. Possible research topics could be related to chemistry, microbiology or materials science… or a combination of them all. I am always willing to face new challenges.
I truly recommend completing a double degree – especially if partly or totally abroad – will be a irreplaceable experience. At the planning stage, a well defined research plan and own activity will help a lot.