When you enter a small, inconspicuous container on the premises of the GSI/FAIR particle acclerator facility close to the big experimental halls you find yourself in the cleanest and most sterile environment of a biology lab: It is the biophysics area, close to the place where the first cancer patients were treated with the ion-beam therapy that had been developed here.
Layers of cultured cells
Dea Aulia Kartini, Ph.D. student from Suranaree University of Technology in Thailand works here at a sterile bench – a stainless steel table with a hood of glass on it. Her task: To create a three-dimensional tissue model in order to investigate the effectiveness of an ion beam in killing cancer cells. For this specific model, she has to culture cells in multi-well plates, which are later stacked and irradiated first with x-rays and later with a carbon ion beam. After irradiation, Dea analyses the number of cells that have survived and correlates this with the local radiation intensity measured by the blackening of an Gafchromic EBT3-film behind the multi-well-plate stack. The goal is to investigate the artefact and scattering from the walls of the multi-well-plate and to check the beam homogeneity in the target.
Collecting data for Ph.D. in Thailand
“I decided to working with cell cultures in 2018, at my first stay with GSI”, Dea explains. “And I never regretted my decision – apart from some minor intermediate crises”, she smiles. “At SUT in Thailand, the focus of my training was in theoretical physics. Here, I got the opportunity to acquire so many experimental techniques and know-how.”
During her fist stay in 2018 she developed the topic of her Ph.D. thesis. Now, in 2019, she collects data for her thesis at SUT.
Her experiences in Germany? Germans have a different idea of spiciness: “A ‘spicy” dish in the canteen usually only has a red colour”, Dea laughs. For her second visit she prepared by bringing chili sauce from Indonesia called Sambal.
What was extremely hard in comparison to Indonesia was the month of Ramadan: In May and June, daylight (and fasting, that means no food, no beverage) lasted for more than 16 hours. “In Indonesia you fast only about 12 hours – my friends at home never understood how hard life is here”, Dea explains. Rewarding, however, was the final prayer in Darmstadt, held in a sports hall.
Goal: Professorship in Indonesia
Something that Dea likes in Germany is that higher education of women is widely accepted: “In Indonesia highly educated women often are regarded with suspect. Even people you meet for the first time are likely to warn you: ‘You will not find somebody to marry’”.
Her long term plans? Dea heads for an academic career: Currently in Bangkok the first proton-beam therapy systems is being installed, and Dea would like to be amongst the first researchers to work with it. She plans for a postdoc, probably also abroad, and finally she would like to get a professorship at a university in Indonesia.
Sandwich Ph.D. of Dea Aulia Kartini, Jakarta, Indonesia (Ph.D.: Suranaree University of Technology, Thailand)
Funding 2018: Pre-agreement full scholarship from GSI
Funding 2019: GET_INvolved Thailand – SUT Fellowship as a part of her 5-year-SUT-Ph.D. scholarship for ASEAN Countries
Duration: 6 months in 2018, 5 months in 2019
Application to GET_INvolved programme: https://fair-center.eu/get_involved