From student to researcher

06 May 2016
When it comes to his education, research and future career Jan Ole Pedersen is 100 percent steered by the academic opportunities

It did not matter if he had to study his Master's Degree in China, Canada or Chile. The same goes for his PhD. 26-year-old Jan Ole Pedersen was solely drawn to SDC in Beijing by the academic profile of the Master's Programme, and today he is doing a PhD at Technical University of Denmark (DTU) and Hvidovre Hospital. Here he has found an opportunity to create a unique professional profile that could not be created anywhere else.

Jan Ole is dedicated to the academic fields: Neuroscience and neuroimaging.

"In neuroscience I found an opportunity to use an engineerical approach to things, and I really like that. Right now I am doing a PhD, where I focus on applied research and see a concrete use of the research," says Jan Ole.

On his way to China - again

The Danish part of Jan Ole's research project focuses on how to utilize information from the MR scanner in the best possibly way.

"Today you have to take a new picture if the patient moves during the scanning. It is both expensive and time-consuming," he explains.

Jan Ole studies how to make use of the data the scanner registers and exploit this to also collect information on how the patient has moved. This would mean that hospitals are able to make use of the images, even though the patient has moved, and a lot of time and money can be saved.

The Chinese part of Jan Ole's research project is more technical and focuses on ways to improve how the scanner creates images from the data it collects.

When you are doing a PhD funded by SDC you have to spend minimum 6-12 months in China as a part of your project. So far Jan Ole has planned two stays in China of five and four months duration respectively. First of all he will work on the Chinese part of his research project but he will also teach a course for the Master's students at Neuroscience and Neuroimaging at SDC in Beijing.

Feet in two worlds

The PhD project is a collaboration between DTU and Hvidovre Hospital, and Jan Ole looks upon it as a great advantage that he can take the best from both camps.

"DTU is a huge place, and it is easy to gain a new perspective on your research. I also have my desk in an office community with other PhD students, and even though our academic interests are different, we are able to spar with each other about some fundamental issues, and as new researcher I find it very rewarding," he says.

When he is working at Hvidovre Hospital the focus is solely on MR imaging. Here he can access the necessary scanners, he works in a strong academic environment, and all his colleagues are involved in neuroscience in one way or another.

Career abroad

During the last couple of years Jan Ole has been working and studying in both Denmark and China, and he sees it as very likely that both Denmark and foreign countries will be represented on his CV in the future. He does not dream about a career in a traditional academic environment. It is important for him to hold on to the close connection between theory and practice and he therefore dreams about a career at a hospital or a research unit by a manufacturer of the MR scanners.

At the moment it means less in what part of the world his future will be - as long as he gets the chance to work with neuroscience.

A day in the life of a PhD student

When you have started your PhD five months ago what does a typical day include?

A random day Jan Ole meets at DTU and starts the day with a couple of hours of work by his computer. As a PhD student hemust complete courses corresponding to approximately 30 ECTS, and he has deadline for an assignment coming up, so he finishes this.
Jan Ole is working together with both Danish and Chinese supervisors. Every week he has a meeting with his Danish supervisor, and this day another PhD student participates in the meeting to spar with Jan Ole about his data processing.
He is advised to go in another direction in correlation with the data processing. Therefore he ends up spending the rest of the afternoon rewriting computer codes before he calls it a day.