Sofia Orellana, Master’s student Brain and Cognitive Sciences at the UvA, participated in the 2018/2019 call for excellent students and won a prize for her thesis.
"Writing my thesis at the IAS was a wonderful experience! Perhaps my favourite aspect of it all was the continuous exposure to researchers in fields vastly different from mine (neuroscience), either through lectures, discussions, casual conversations over lunch or during a walk through the canals. Since we all “spoke” the common language of complexity, the general –and sometimes specific- intricacies of other’s work remained accessible and understandable. The constant access to different intellectual perspectives turned out to be rather exciting. It helped me think of new approaches towards my own research questions, and more ideas than I can ever hope to execute!
My time at the institute was not exclusively about research. I found some wonderful friends in my fellow students – we enjoyed many dinners, coffees and procrastination sessions looking at obscure locations in google maps together (or the occasional drink) – as well as in the staff and fellows of the institute. Everyone was incredibly approachable and always open for a chat. The hallmark of a great scientific community.
I believe my work greatly benefited from both the fun I experienced and knowledge I gained at the IAS. I am very happy that, as a result of the thesis prize, I will have the opportunity to present at the International Conference on Computational Science the coming year. Much of the ideas on cascading network failure which I wanted to explore had to be cut short to meet my deadline. Now I have the possibility to continue forward with this work and formally introduce it to the scientific community. As I am just getting started with a scientific career, having the possibility of exposing my research through a conference presentation, so early on, is an exciting and rare opportunity."