Choosing a career path for young imaging scientists

Choosing a career path for young imaging scientists

What better way to explore possible career paths for future imaging scientists than with an industry internship? Thanks to the Euro-BioImaging Industry Board pilot internship program, started in 2021, Master’s students in Biomedical Imaging at Åbo Akademi University and University of Turku, Finland, can apply for an internship with one of two Euro-BioImaging Industry Board partners, TissueGnostics and ZEISS. We spoke with Ada Pajari, one of the first Master’s students to benefit from this program, to learn more how her internship at ZEISS helped her make a career choice. And we also got insight from Herbert Schaden, ZEISS, on how the pilot program helps his company recruit curious, motivated students while fulfilling its culture of diversity.

Annesha Fariha

Ada Pajari is conducting an industry internship at ZEISS in Jena.

Ada Pajari has a background in Cell and Molecular Biology and became interested in microscopy as a Bachelor’s student at Åbo Academi University, in Turku, Finland. She enrolled in the high-class MSc in Biomedical Imaging program in 2020, during the pandemic. In early 2022, she learned about the opportunity to apply for an internship at ZEISS’ headquarters in Jena, Germany.

ZEISS is an internationally leading technology enterprise operating in the fields of optics and optoelectronics. ZEISS Research Microscopy Solutions is the world’s only one-stop manufacturer of light, electron, X-ray and ion microscope systems and offers solutions for correlative microscopy.

Ada was already familiar with ZEISS, as she had studied in Jena as an exchange student. “ZEISS is quite interwoven with the science that is done at the university there,” Ada explains. “I saw this as a nice opportunity to come back to Jena, and I felt it would be important for my career to do an internship in a company. After all, I already did an academic internship – and it’s important to experience both sides.”

A unique experience in Jena

Ada is working at the Advanced Development and Research department at ZEISS, where her duties include preparing cell samples and performing live cell imaging. She has a supervisor on the biology side, and another supervisor that sets up the microscopes. She also annotates the images she gets back as her work contributes to machine learning algorithms. For the most part, she is quite independent, since she already knew how to do many of the techniques she has implemented at ZEISS.

“It’s a nice balance between the wet lab and office work,” explains Ada. “And I’ve learned a lot. I participate in the weekly meetings for everyone at the Advanced Development and Research department, so I have an overview to what everyone is working on. I also got to tour the full ZEISS facility.”

“There’s a good team spirit in the office. Everyone is always there for you if you have problems, there’s a very nice and open communication amongst colleagues,” continues Ada. In addition, during her internship, ZEISS won the Deutsche Zukunftspreis for their Lattice Lightsheet 7 microscope. She was invited to participate in the celebrations and even meet the team that developed the microscope.

So, it has been very exciting professionally, but also on a personal level, the internship really helped things to click for Ada.

“This internship has happened at a crucial point in my studies, between my Master’s thesis and deciding what I want to do professionally. I now have a better grasp and know I want to focus on the research side of things. Being at ZEISS really helped me make that decision,” Ada concludes.

 

What motivated ZEISS to collaborate with Euro-BioImaging

“Diversity is really important for ZEISS, so being part of an international internship programme is key,” explains Herbert Schaden, who as EBIB Vice Chair was convinced very early on to join the internship programme.

“At ZEISS, we really want to be connected with young, talented people from around the globe. We are looking for motivated and curious candidates who like to work in a team.  All of our internship projects are embedded into an overarching development project, so it can be a very valuable experience for interns and us alike,” explains Herbert.

Annesha and the TG team

ZEISS site in South Jena.

The Advanced Development and Research Group, where Ada did her internship, is within ZEISS’ Microscopy group, and has a lot of integration with science and newest technologies. “This is a really great group to work for,” says Herbert. “They are testing the ideas, developing the prototypes, doing the market research. They also evaluate technologies to see if they are interesting to develop further. And they do it on both the hardware and the software side,” explains Herbert.

Being part of the community

“We are very happy to collaborate in the internship program. It’s wonderful to interact with interested, motivated students early in their career. And it’s important to show students that private companies also need researchers.”

“Strong collaboration with the imaging community is really important for us. And training and education are really important pillars of this interaction,” concludes Herbert Schaden.

More information

Find out more about industry internship opportunities with Euro-BioImaging here.

Thank you Marianna Childress, communication officer of Euro-BioImaging, for writing the original article.
Internship opportunities for tomorrow’s imaging scientists

Internship opportunities for tomorrow’s imaging scientists

Education is the greatest gift we can give to the next generation, which is why Euro-BioImaging is collaborating with several dedicated Master’s degree programs in biological or biomedical imaging. To provide practical training to these young imaging scientists, the Euro-BioImaging Industry Board (EBIB) initiated a pilot Internship program for master’s students in 2021. The pilot involves two EBIB member companies, ZEISS and TissueGnostics, and the MSc programme in Biomedical Imaging at Åbo Akademi University and University of Turku, Finland.  We spoke to Annesha M. Fariha, one of the first students at University of Turku to benefit from this opportunity, as well as her mentors at TissueGnostics, to learn how this program can be interesting for both students and companies alike.

Annesha Fariha

Annesha Fariha working at TissueGnostics

Annesha Fariha is a second-year student at the University of Turku for an MSc in Biomedical Imaging, a two-year program with an interdisciplinary curriculum providing a broad spectrum of state-of-the-art knowledge related to many different areas in cell biology and biomedicine. Before joining this program, Annesha had completed a BSc in biomedical engineering. In March 2022, she learned about the opportunity to do an internship in the private sector, with either TissueGnostics or ZEISS, both members of the Euro-BioImaging Industry Board.

Interesting opportunity for students

“It seemed really interesting to me as a student to get an opportunity to work outside of academia during my Master’s,” explains Annesha.  I already had a little exposure to academia during my internship at the Turku PET Centre. And so I was enthusiastic to apply to TissueGnostics because I was somewhat familiar with their StrataQuest software, which is able to analyse histopathological images using machine learning and deep neural network algorithms.

TissueGnostics is a solution provider for Precision Medicine and Next-Generation Digital Pathology. The company offers fully integrated microscopy platforms with support for a variety of applications in human, animal and plant tissue, as well as image analysis solutions using AI and machine-learning. Since AI was a topic that Annesha wanted to work on for her Master’s thesis project, she approached TissueGnostics  with the possibility of a master’s thesis project along with the internship.

Dr. Alain Pitiot works in the Research & Development department of TissueGnostics, and was involved in recruiting Annesha. Together with Annesha’s supervisor at University of Turku, Dr. Pekka Ruusuvuori, he defined the scope of the Master’s thesis project, which he co-supervises. First and foremost, it was Annesha’s intellectual curiosity and enthusiasm for the project that convinced TissueGnostics that she would be a good candidate for the internship. Furthermore, she had prior experience with image analysis and programming, which allowed her to dive straight into her project.

How it works

Annesha started her internship at TissueGnostic’s headquarters in Vienna, Austria, in September 2022. Annesha quickly felt part of the team, enjoying the many insightful discussions in a welcoming, multidisciplinary environment.

“My internship project focuses on establishing a framework to compare different segmentation algorithms in histopathology,” explains Annesha. “But I have interactions with everyone in the office. I have been exposed to so much, including production and even marketing. It’s been really eye-opening.”

“Everything worked out really well,” says Alain. “It was straight-forward to combine Annesha’s internship with her Master’s project.”

“She’s proved very independent and she works on her own quite a lot. It would be really difficult to bring someone on board who doesn’t have experience in image analysis and coding, such as a first year Master’s student. It is also important that interns are interested in industrial development – the work has to translate into a solution.”

Although just a few weeks remain in her 3 month-internship, Annesha has started writing her thesis, under Alain’s supervision.  When Annesha returns to Finland, her supervisor at the university will take the lead again, while she continues to collaborate with Alain throughout the thesis-writing process.

Annesha and the TG team

From left to right: Dr. Alain Pitiot, Annesha Fariha B.Sc., Dr. Rudolf Jedletzberger.

Career path

It’s clearly too early for Annesha to tell if she would consider working in the private sector after her Master’s degree, “But what I’ve learned at TissueGnostics is likely to help me choose a career path and influence the future direction of my research,” she mentions.

From TissueGnostic’s perspective

“The EBIB internship program is really beneficial for a small company like ours,” says Rudolf Jedletzberger, Chief Operating Officer (COO) of Tissue Gnostics. “Networking is really important for us – it helps us get our name out there. And working with students is really interesting – it’s a two-way street. We take internships very seriously. We see them as an opportunity to mentor and recruit the next generation of employees. For example, four of our current employees started out with us as interns. And the collaboration with the EBIB internship program broadened our recruitment pool,” concludes the COO.

More information

Find out more about industry internship opportunities with Euro-BioImaging here.