Sophie Bögemann


B.Sc. in Psychobiology + M.Sc. in Biomedical Sciences from the University of Amsterdam


PhD-candidate at the Donders Institute for Brain, Cognition and Behaviour, the Netherlands

Why did you choose your specific programme at SDC?

As a biological neuroscientist, I lacked some technical understanding of the neuroimaging techniques I was interested in. The Neuroscience and Neuroimaging programme was a perfect fit for me because it allowed me to develop exactly those engineering skills, without moving away from the neuroscience field.

What are the most important academic skills/knowledge you have acquired during your master’s?

I have learned a lot about several medical imaging techniques, mainly focusing on MRI. The programme provided me with a fundamental basis in data processing and machine learning and it deeply advanced my neuroimaging knowledge and analysis skills.

What have you otherwise learned?

I have gained many insights in Chinese culture. This became especially clear to me when I moved back to the Netherlands and started collaborating with Chinese colleagues. It suddenly felt like we could understand each other on a whole other level.

Where did you work on your thesis project and what did you gain from it?

I wrote my thesis at the Neuropsychology and Applied Cognitive Neuroscience Group embedded in The Institute of Psychology, in Beijing. In my thesis, I used data-driven techniques to classify schizophrenia patients from healthy controls based on reward-related neuroimaging data.

During the project, I gained many computational skills. I loved being part of a (mostly) Chinese lab, it was really fun to be in such a different environment and to get exposed to the cultural differences. Luckily, most of the students in the lab spoke (some) English.

How has your time at SDC/your MSc programme impacted your career?

The SDC programme absolutely helped me to distinguish myself from other potential PhD-candidates. On the one hand because the academic content is quite unique, on the other hand, because not many people spend two years in China to obtain a M.Sc. It shows independence, perseverance and motivation.

What is the social life like?

The social life at SDC is very special. Since you are all far away from home, you get close to your fellow students fast & easy. Being in it together gives you quite a special bond. It is also nice that you are surrounded by students from different SDC programs. This really broadens your horizon.

What did you do in your spare time?

In my free time, I loved exploring Chinese culture & cuisine, while driving through Beijing with my electric scooter.

What is it like to live in China?

For me, living in China feels like two separate experiences. In the first year, I lived at the UCAS dorms (like most students). It was nice being so close to your fellow students and other (study) facilities, but also challenging at times. You had to get used to the small rooms, to limited hot showers, and to having all your meals in the canteen.

The second year, was less challenging in that sense. I lived in an apartment in the middle of Beijing, together with my brother and another SDC-student. There, life was more as we knew it, but of course, still special. We loved getting dumplings for breakfast at this cute little shop just around the corner, sightseeing in the neighbourhood, but also, getting exposed to the ample expat community & nightlife in Beijing.

Other thoughts and reflections?

One of the things I also really liked is that you get the opportunity to connect with your teachers on a different level. As the teachers are visiting you in a foreign country, you get to show them around, go to dinner with them, and also talk to them outside the classroom. It gives you, for example, the chance to get some broader career perspectives.

Would you recommend others to choose the programme?

Definitely, it is a unique and once-in-a-lifetime experience.