Through Students' Eyes: an interview with Puerto Rican CGA student Raymond Laboy Morales

You grew up in Puerto Rico, studied in Mexico and came to Germany to pursue your Ph.D. at the Cologne Graduate School of Ageing Research. For which reasons did you take this decision?

At the end of my bachelor’s studies in Mexico I knew I wanted to continue with my Ph.D. in the ageing field, but the next biggest question was where. One of the main reasons I chose the CGA is the structure of the program. It is focused not only on improving your scientific skills and critical thinking, but also other soft skills that will make you competitive in the job market. Also, as part of the CGA you have the opportunity to rotate in different research groups before you choose a host lab.

What is your Ph.D. topic and what do you like most about the research community in Cologne?

I am studying the regulatory network of different transcription factors and how they affect metabolism and ageing in the nematode Caenorhabditis elegans. In particular, we are interested on how the Myc/Mondo transcriptional network function as a convergent mechanism of lifespan extension mediated by multiple longevity pathways.

Cologne has become one of the pioneers in ageing and age-related diseases research around the world. We are surrounded by many institutes with excellent researchers, and as a young scientist I have the privilege to talk and learn from them. For us who are interested in continuing in academia, Cologne is also one of the best areas to build a strong network of contacts for the future.

What do you think is the main asset about doing your PhD within the context of a structured graduate school? What is the advantage of being part of the CGA for you?

A structured graduate school gives you the opportunity to develop many different skills that are important to thrive as a scientist. The graduate school will provide you the tools and support to explore your individual needs and improve them through different workshops, seminars and mentoring.

Being part of the CGA gives me the opportunity to do research in a multidisciplinary environment and have access to state-of-the-art technology to develop my Ph.D. work. Furthermore, for international students, the graduate school is very supportive not only in our academic development, but also in different aspects of our daily life.

What is your favorite place or activity in Cologne?

For me there is nothing better than sitting next to the Rhine on a sunny day. I also enjoy having a coffee in the Flora und Botanischer Garten.