Alex who?

Alex van der Wateren, portrait 2017

Thanks for visiting my website! I am Alex, 30 years old and I currently live in Cambridge (UK). I have just completed my PhD in Chemistry at the University of Cambridge and am now looking for a new challenge in/around. On this website you'll be able to find my educational background as well as work experience and examples of some of the work I carried out for two science societies, as well as a selection of art made in my spare time. On this page I'll give a more detailed account of my education and experiences since high school.

Undergraduate
and Master's























I became interested in art in my mid-teens when I started to design and make costumes. I also very much enjoyed art classes in high school. After graduating high school, I attended art school for a year where I studied fashion design. Although I improved skills in illustration, painting and photography and learned many new skills, I missed studying natural sciences as I very much enjoyed this in high school. I was therefore very excited to be accepted to the Bachelor's programme BioMedical Sciences (BMS) at Utrecht University. Adapting to academic education was challenging after spending a year painting, drawing and designing but halfway through the second year of BMS, I began to make great headway. By then, I had switched to Amsterdam University (UvA) as I planned to do my Master's there. After obtaining my BSc. in 2009, I enrolled in a two-year Master's programme (Medical Biology) where I obtained most credits through research internships which gave me a lot of experience in cell- and molecular biology. During this programme, I worked as a teaching assistant on an undergraduate course in early embryology which I combined with a didactic research project to assess the course itself, and provided suggestions for improvement. I also assessed how a newly developed 3D computer model could be used during this course. As the final part of my Master's degree I wrote a literature thesis on prion disease and my interest in this topic grew into a fascination!

While a student, I spent a lot of my spare time on artistic pursuits such as designing and making costumes, photography, illustration and I was also involved in the organisation of two art salon/club nights in Amsterdam and Leiden.

Please check out Portfolio > Selection of artwork for some examples.


Research assistant
in Stockholm
After completing my Master's in 2011, I moved to Stockholm to work as a research assistant on chromatin remodelling, which is related to my second year Master's project. I also worked on a smaller project on fibromyalgia. During this time, I volunteered as an English tutor for the Stockholm Student Union to help students with written and conversational English. As I very much enjoyed science, I decided to pursue further education and applied for PhD positions to work on protein misfolding and aggregation since this particular field studies prion diseases and related disorders. I was offered a Wellcome Trust PhD position in Leeds, had an offer to go to the University of Alberta (Canada) for PhD research but I decided to move to Cambridge (UK) for PhD research in Prof. Christopher Dobson's group in the Department of Chemistry.

PhD research
in Cambridge
In 2012 I moved to Cambridge (UK) to start PhD research on misfolding and aggregation of the protein alpha-synuclein, which is the protein involved in development of Parkinson's Disease. I learned biochemical and biophysical techniques such as recombinant protein expression (in E. coli) and purification, assays to evaluate the propensity of protein to form aggregates, high-resolution microscopy and techniques to determine secondary structure of protein.

In addition to these experimental techniques, I also learned and improved many other skills:

- Finding, interpreting and organising specialist literature
- Accurate record keeping of experimental details, samples and protocols
- Proofreading
- Writing standard operating procedure compliant with health and safety
- Buying reagents, other consumables and equipment using an on-line procurement   
   application
- Planning experiments and booking shared equipment accordingly
- Data collection, data organisation and data analysis using several software packages
- Preparation of figures of experimental data and concepts
- Preparation of presentations and posters for both specialist audiences as well as a
   general audience
- Writing and preparation of material for conferences and publication
- Presenting my research at international conferences/meetings
- Taking part in group meetings/discussions
- Communication with people from different backgrounds and cultures across different  
   positions in higher education/academia

CU science
societies
During my PhD research, I've been active as commitee member in the Cambridge University Astronomical Society (CUAS) as webmaster and in the Cambridge University Nanotechnology Society where I spent a year on each committee. I had several tasks:

- Designing/updating the society's website
- Designing promotional material
- Updating the society's FaceBook page and event listings on http://talks.cam.ac.uk
- Photographing some of the society's events
- Designing, editing and contributing to the CUAS printed newsletter Neptune
- Input on strategy, and administration

Please go to Portfolio > CU societies page for examples.


Future plans
Four years later I am still fascinated by science but prefer to pursue a career outside of academia. I am very interested to work within higher education in an administrative role related to communication, education or publishing but am also interested in policy and consultancy. I am open to all possible avenues which would match my skills and background. I am ready for a new challenge which fully utilises my extensive background in a natural/medical science, teaching experience and design experience.

Personality
and interests
I am an outgoing person and I enjoy meeting new people and being able to help others. I work hard and enjoy learning new things. I am also creative and have a wide range of interests such as medical/natural/physical sciences, fashion design, art and music. In my spare time I enjoy artistic pursuits such as illustration, painting, photography, sculpting and making costumes. I also enjoy going to museums and galleries, reading, going to the cinema, the gym and cycle rides.

In the past year I became involved in the design and manufacture of silicone sculptures which was something in which I had no prior experience. I taught myself everything using the internet for research and developed ways to improve my technique. These efforts have been very successfull enabling me to sell my designs through an on-line platform.

I am therefore looking for a position which will challenge me further and enable me to learn new skills.