Internship experience – Danielle Siqueira (2022)

In this blog post, Danielle Siqueira shares her internship experience in Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research (UFZ).

“I am Danielle Siqueira and did my internship at Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research (UFZ),  with the SENTINEL II project. The internship took place in Mbita, Kenya in cooperation with the International Centre of Insect Physiology and Ecology – ICIPE. The internship lasted almost 3 months and was one of the most unforgettable experiences of my life. I worked in the human health department of ICIPE with host snails for schistosomiasis disease.

Schistosomiasis affects many developing countries including Brazil, where I came from, and being part of a project of such relevance in terms of public health is something that really motivated me. Also known as bilharzia, is a disease caused by a parasite found in freshwater from subtropical and tropical regions. The parasite relies on two hosts (human and snail) to complete their life cycle and causes more than 200 thousand fatalities a year.

The project consisted of studying the role of multiple stressors on the sensitivity of host snails to infection by Schistosoma. An acute toxicity test using snails and miracidia (the parasite that infects the snails) was performed using diazinon (an insecticide commonly used in Kenya) under different temperatures. Acute toxicity tests using cercaria, the parasite that infects human, was also performed in order to understand their survival under those stressors.

One of the most special things about being part of such an important project was to have the chance to work with the children and to help them. Besides this, Kenyan people are so warm and lovely with an amazing culture. I will carry those beautiful moments with me forever. This internship gave me the opportunity to realize that we, as ecotoxicologists, have many possibilities to work in various fields.

I highly recommend this internship for those who are interested in issues that primarily affect developing countries and those who are motivated to work and live in another culture.”