I want to get to the bottom of things: Interview with a student Monika Kuncova

Monika is a third-year bachelor’s student in the Environment and Health study program. In high school, she enjoyed studying and did well at it. In the interview, Monika explains why she chose science and what she has enjoyed the most as a student at RECETOX. As the primary coordinator of IBIS, an interactive biology seminar, she popularizes science among high school students. She is considering continuing her cooperation with schools and the popularization science to the public as a future profession after finishing her studies at RECETOX.

21 Feb 2022 Marie Hošťálková

Moni, why did you choose Environment and Health?

There were several reasons. In high school, I enjoyed both science and humanities, but I didn’t know which one to choose. I first learned about the Environment and Health study program at the "ViBuChu" weekend, an online chemistry seminar organized by Masaryk University students for high school students. We investigated dust (i.e., samples collection, processing, and evaluation). This scientific experience motivated me to apply to RECETOX.

What do you enjoy in your studies?

The complexity - what I learn in one subject connects to the next. Everything is connected. You cannot study subjects separately; they complement each other. Moreover, I have amazing classmates, we help each other, and we are a team.

I like to remember the first hour of the departmental seminar, where most of the RECETOX scientists came to introduce themselves to us. We learned who does what and to whom we could turn if needed. That's what I like about RECETOX - the personal touch. I'm not just a number on a list, but we know each other's teachers and classmates.

I also appreciate that our study is practical. About a month after we started the program, we were asked to participate in a science project. I thought it was great because we had the opportunity to see how science works right from the start. There are always opportunities like that. For example, that is how I got into biostatistics and how I chose the topic of my bachelor's thesis .

What has been the biggest challenge as a third-year student so far?

Organic Chemistry was the most challenging. Luckily, I have great classmates around me, and they helped me prepare for the exam. Also, at RECETOX, there are advisors (scientists) with whom students can consult when they encounter problems during their studies.

What is your dream job?

I haven't decided yet. Either do research and evaluate data or popularize science. Both seem very important.

You manage many extracurricular activities during your studies, e.g., IBIS - Interactive Biology Seminar. What is the primary role of IBIS? What are its activities?

IBIS is an online seminar for enthusiastic high school students interested in science. Each year we publish four sets of assignments, which are diverse because students are interested in different scientific areas. Since we want to meet participants also in person, we host a weekend where we get to know each other, play games, listen to expert lectures, and go on field trips. In September, we hold K-SCUK, a joint camp for the best IBIS (Biology) and KSI (Computer Science) participants. For me, this is the best event of the whole year, since it really helps to develop everyone's knowledge.

Why did you decide to join IBIS?

In high school, a friend suggested I try it. Later, IBIS members asked if I wanted to organize it at the university. At first, I was very nervous about whether I would even be able to do it, but I was really excited at the first meeting. The whole team is excellent, and I'm glad I went for it. Today I'm the lead organizer, and working on IBIS moves me forward incredibly.

How can others get involved?

Anyone who wants to get involved is, of course, welcome. We are happy to meet new researchers and welcome new organizers to our ranks. We have a lot of work; there is always something to do. The beautiful thing about organizing is that everyone can be involved in what they enjoy. Older organizers have lots of experience; younger organizers have fresh ideas. Just email ibis@sci.muni.cz, and we'll be happy to hear from you.

Moni, thank you for sharing your study experience...

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