Natasha Van Horsten graduated with a National Diploma in analytical chemistry at Cape Peninsula University of Technology. She completed a BTech in Chemistry while working at CSIR in the Southern Ocean Climate and Carbon Observatory research group. She pursued an MSc in Marine biogeochemistry, looking at Fe and light limitation in Southern Ocean phytoplankton through Stellenbosch University. During her PhD she will be looking at the effects of Fe-binding ligands on the cycling of Fe in the Southern Ocean and the seasonal distribution of these ligands.

 

Campus France interviewed her on the following questions:

What made you pursue your studies in France?

I was introduced to my supervisor at the University of Brest by my supervisor at CSIR. Our research group had already established a good collaboration with the University of Brest prior to me joining the group. I then spent 3 months in Brest last year, receiving training and analysing samples. During this time I forged a good working relationship with my supervisors and realised that I can learn a lot in France. Working closely with our collaborators will substantially increase the quality of my research. The Fe biogeochemistry facilities at the laboratories in Brest are well established and will facilitate me in my ability to further set up facilities in South Africa.

Have you been abroad before?

Yes, I lived in the UK for 18 months after high school, during which time I did some travelling around Europe, France included. I also spent 3 months in Brest last year.

Is there a particular reason you chose the city you are going to?

The GEOTRACES (trace metal biogeochemistry) facilities are well established at the University of Brest and I have worked well with my supervisors previously.

What about your stay in France are you looking forward to in particular?

I am looking forward to working with supervisors who are leaders in their field. I am also looking forward to a change of scenery, the opportunity to travel around Europe. I thoroughly enjoy Europe and look forward to spending more time there.
 

Career-wise, what would you like this experience to hold for you upon your return from France?

I would like this experience to put me a few steps closer to completing an impressive PhD and making myself invaluable to the establishment of trace metal biogeochemistry facilities in South Africa. I intend on pursuing a research career in the field and hope to use my time in France to establish myself and make that a reality. Hopefully I can forge more international collaborations for future research.