Doctoral candidate 2 - Stefan Huijgens - UiT, The Arctic University of Norway, Tromsø

Project Title: Investigation of blood-brain barrier (BBB) using novel super-resolution technology 

Supervisors: James McCutcheon, UiT and Eelke Snoeren, UiT

Meet our first doctoral candidate at the Arctic Univesity of Norway, Stefan Huijgens!

Tell us about yourself, who are you? And how do you like to spend your time?

My name is Stefan Huijgens, I am originally from a small town near Amsterdam and I have been living in Tromsø, Norway since March 2024. In my free time I like to go on hikes, which is part of the reason for my move to Norway. Just 15 minutes outside the city of Tromsø you have beautiful nature and a lot of hiking trails. Which is nice!

I also like to play tennis and padel, which is something that is very easy to do here as well. In Tromsø you have this great balance between nature as well as a nice city to live in.

What is your educational background and what have been up until now?

I have both a bachelor and master’s degree in biomedical sciences from University of Amsterdam. My bachelor studies were not focused on the brain but I was learning about all the organs. For this reason I decided to do a minor in Neurobiology, which was very interesting to me and made me decide to focus on Neuroscience and Neurobiology in my masters.

After that I spent some time as a lab assistant teaching Biomedical Sciences, which I enjoyed very much!

Why did you decide to join ImAge-D?

As a student I always found it very cool to see microscopy images. In high school you start looking at cells with a normal microscope and the ImAge-D project takes this to the extreme. Going from light microscopy to super resolution and see everything at a very small scale, to study how alterations in endothelial cells are having quite a large effect on physiology, health and behavior.

What are your expectations regarding your work in the ImAge-D project?

I consider the PhD to be a great opportunity to develop my skills, especially with the consortium of this project, while building a strong network which is super important for my future career. It is also a nice interface between learning new things and developing my research skills. Furthermore, I am looking forward to doing research myself, since I have more control over what I want to do and I want to get into.

From a social perspective I think it is great to step out of the comfort zone. So for me personally, moving to Norway is great for my personal development. I am also looking forward meeting with the people in the consortium, spending some time abroad, getting to know various places in Europe and learn more about the motivation that is driving the people around me which I consider to be very inspiring.

Could you share a fun fact with me?

The largest flower auction in the world is happening in my hometown in the Netherlands, so if you are buying flowers there is a very good chance that they are from there.

Thank you very much Stefan for this nice, little interview! Welcome to our project and we wish you all the best for the upcoming years!


James Edgar McCutcheon
Stefan Huijgens