27 April 2015

STUDY TRIP: Adventurous PLEN students take on Iran

Study trip

When three master students from PLEN boarded the plane to Iran in the fall of 2014 they had no idea which crazy adventures and unique experiences there was in stall for them. As a part of a 7,5 ECTS research project their supervisor Jan Christensen from Analytical Chemistry, encouraged them to organize a study trip to collect samples form the polluted wet areas in western Iran.

Some might find it controversial to choose Iran as a destination for a study trip. But for Sofie, Kristoffer and Josephine the choice was easy. Ever since the Gulf War the concerns for the flora and fauna in the wet area Shadegan have been major due to the oil fields and refineries in the area. “They have some major oil field and refineries in Iran only minutes away from beautiful nature reserves and swamps. So you see first-hand how the pollution is gushing out into the water, ” Kristoffer Gulmark Poulsen explains.

The aim of the three week long study trip was to collect oil polluted samples from a wet area in the western part of Iran (Ahvaz).  With great help from assistant professor Mohsen Soleimani from Isfahan University of Technology (IUT) the trip became a reality last year in October. Mohsen Soleimani organized a three day boat trip from where the samples were collected. Back in Isfahan the PLEN students worked in the lab to secure the samples. But the main analyses have been carried out back in Denmark. ”The labs in Isfahan are okay. They have the basics. But it was a challenge and an experience to work under more simple conditions with little equipment,“ Sofie Bruun Knudsen tells.  

On a personal level the trip has been an once in a lifetime experience for Sofie, Kristoffer and Josephine. First and foremost they were blown away over the kindness and interest from the Iranians. “It was a enormous cultural experience. People we didn’t know invited us for barbecue and into their homes. We were met with open arm and a sincere interest in us and our background. The Iranians is the friendliest people ever,” Sofie, Kristoffer and Josephine agrees.

The journey and all the planning around the trip has made the three students more confident in their studies, forced them to make decision and cross some personal borders. “On a personal level this has been rewarding. But also in terms of data analysis, lab-techniques and sampling we have gathered so much experience.” A research project abroad can fully be recommended, according to Josephine Lübeck and Sofie and Kristoffer fully endorses.