My Experience as a Visiting Student in Glasgow - María Dolores Fernandez-Caballero Fariñas

Hi everyone! My name is Lola. I was a visiting PhD student from Spain. During the 4 months of my visit, I have done my research at the University of Glasgow, included in the Sonopill programme. My background is engineering but during my PhD research I have had the chance to discover the biological world and then crossing the line towards a multidisciplinary knowledge (that means that I am very conscious that I don’t know as much as I should of nothing).

Basically, I have been working on characterization of plant leaves using air-coupled ultrasound. So, now you may wonder… what on earth have you been doing in Sonopill? Sounds awkward, I know. But, in fact, plants are more similar than you may think to the gastrointestinal tract. Nature is hierarchically structured and layered materials are common. Both plant leaves and human gut wall are. That doesn’t mean that it my visit was a piece of cake: new lab, new setup, new transducers, new oscilloscope, and new pulser/receiver… even an almost new medium for me: WATER! Since working in water means cleaning the tank much more frequently that I would like, and animal tissues smell in a weird way that, apparently, only clinicians like, this wasn’t easy, but it made me learn a lot (and miss air as a coupling medium as well).


Talking about Sonopill itself; in my opinion, the programme is quite well-structured, with monthly meetings where you can track others’ work as well as obtain useful feedback of yours (and a lunch for free, which needs to be mentioned). Sonopill’s team is quite international but unfortunately with no Spanish speakers except me so I was forced to use my English which included up to 50 different words. Everyone without exception has been quite patient and comprehensive regarding this fact. To be fair, it has been an extremely useful experience for improving my English as well. To be even fairer, I actually should keep working on it for a while.

To sum up, my whole experience in Scotland has been quite positive even when my skin has been clamouring for sunlight since the next day after my arrival. And that was in big part for Sonopill programme and the people working in there, because the beauty of the landscapes, the unworried and friendly Scottish personality and because of Celtic F.C… which is gonna win the league!

Thanks to all. See you soon,

Lola Fariñas,
Senior PhD student at CSIC (Spanish National Research Council),
Madrid (Spain).