Reports – PhD Experiences

Report from Bishnu Joshi on his PhD experience from Northern Norway

February 2021. Author: Bishnu Joshi– PhD graduate and IBA member – UiT – The Arctic University of Norway

I am Bishnu Joshi, born and raised in Nepal, a country recognized as the land of the Himalayas. Four years ago, I decided to pursue my doctorate degree from UiT- The Arctic University of Norway and I believe, it was one of my best decisions I made. Under the tutelage of excellent supervisors Prof. Mona Johannessen, Prof. Kristin Hegstad and Dr. Fatemeh Askarian, my PhD Journey embarked on the characterization of bacterial extracellular vesicles (EVs) released from pathogenic bacteria Enterococcus faecium and Staphylococcus aureus. It was fun exploring EVs, which are non-living nano-bubbles that are packaged with interesting bioactive molecules such as nucleic acids ( DNA, RNA), proteins, toxins that might be used for diagnostics and therapeutic purposes. 

Bishnu Joshi

The past four-years help me to widen my practical and theoretical knowledge. Every tiny step that I made for continuous four-years was the most important rewarding experience to obtain the Ph.D degree. The most memorable experience was defending my Ph.D thesis in front of the opponent’s (Prof. Bart Devreese, University of Ghent, and Professor Hanne Winther-Larsen) expertise in the field. For me, one of the difficult tasks was confronting writers’ block that every research encounters during their writing steps. Thanks to my supervisors for navigating me in the right direction. Their continuous mentoring and after the various iterative process of writing finally develops into a nice piece of Ph.D. thesis!

The journey of a Ph.D. is like participating in a long marathon and you have to keep moving with strong motivation “you can do it” within yourself.

Besides academics, staying in Norway was great adventure for me. I got an opportunity to learn the Norwegian language and culture, enriched myself in the host-microbe interaction group at UiT. This platform provides me an opportunity to explore science with the freedom to think outside the box, and continuous mentorships from the supervisors eventually cultivated critical reasoning ability and work both independently as well as in a team. The Norwegian culture of proper work-life balance help to maintain a harmonious relationship with the family. In addition, flexibility and freedom in the research make me more responsible, open to communicate science, and build up networking skills. Besides study, it was fun living in the Arctic. Chasing the Northern lights to capture beautiful photos, small hiking trips, and walking like penguins in the icy streets of Tromsø will always imprinted as a beautiful memory.

The day of the defence. Bishnu Joshi with two of his supervisors – Prof. Mona Johannessen, Prof. Kristin Hegstad

In a process of my Ph.D. Journey, I became a member of the IBA School. After joining this school, I get ample opportunities to participate in seminars, workshops and various courses. The course offered by IBA school “Bioinformatics course for Beginners” and RNA Transcriptomic course conducted by Wellcome Genome Campus, UK with financial support from IBA school for my travel and accommodation were steppingstone to acquire bioinformatics skills. Later, the knowledge and skills I acquire from those courses were valuable for publishing in peer-reviewed academic journal. Moreover, the courses offered by IBA, were not only useful for fulfilling mandatory credit requirement for Ph.D but also provide an excellent platform for networking and scientific collaboration for sharing/and or learning innovative ideas from researchers across the globe.