Why, What, How: Four MTLS students sharing their thesis stories

How important is master project? We all know that

  • It worths one-fourth of academic credits

  • Students are free to choose where to carry out their thesis work

  • 30% students (in Sweden) found their employment directly through master thesis

  • Students acquire essential skills and connections with industry/academia, which eventually build up employability

So, how are our students doing? This weekend, I have the pleasure to chat with four of MTLS students from my class, who are doing their master thesis at different places and working on a diverse scheme of topics! They are:  Leonie (Karolinska Institute in Solna), Mounika (Gabather AB in Huddinge), Dimitri (KTH main campus) and Carolina (Harvard Medical School).


1. Leonie von Berlin, Germany

Group: Sten Linarsson (Molecular Biophysics and Biochemistry, Karolinska Institute)

Project: Pipeline development for definition and mapping of cells in human brain with single-cell RNA sequencing (scRNAseq)

The most important lesson I learned is the following: Science takes time. A  LOT OF TIME. If we all accept that four months are barely enough to produce important results and stay relaxed and stay relax, the master project can be a great time of learning and scientific communication. And for having fun!

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Key dates and events after admission

The admission results of Fall Semester 2018 have been released on Congratulations and a warm welcome to all admitted students!

As the first round of university application in Sweden ended last week on 15th January, I hope that all of you have filed your application on time! While enjoying your post-application time, here are some important dates and events that you won’t want to miss:

Release of Admission Results

It is the most pressing issue in mind, right? According to the, the the admission results will be released on 6th April, 2018. Additionally, it is possible that your department would send a preliminary notification to you approximately a week before. If yes, you had an extremely high chance to be admitted to that program. If not, also don’t worry (because not all the departments do so), keep calm and wait till 6th April.

Acceptance of an Offer and Payment of Tuition Fee tells you that you must reply to your offer on their website before the deadline set by individual university. However, my suggestion would be to accept your offer and keep your seat even if you were undecided at that time. For the non-European students, the deadline of tuition fee payment, 31th May 2018 , would act as the de facto deadline of acceptance/denial of your offer.

Call-up week and Information Evening

Neither of the call-up week and welcoming party organised by the STUDY IN SWEDEN at your home country is mandatory that you must reply to. But, they are excellent opportunities to build a tangible link with your programme, school and Sweden!

Call-up week is a particular admission service offered by KTH and many schools in Sweden. Usually in the first or second weeks after 6th April, the admitted students will be invited by our one of our student ambassadors (very likely a current student from the same programme) via email to set up a Skype or telephone talk. So, do answer the email, pick up your phone and seize the chance to express feelings and ask questions!

The date of the Information evening varies from country to country, that might span from the middle of April to May; but you will see the invitation in your email inbox soon after 6th April. There, you will probably know the first time what a Swedish “fika” is; also, many of my international confirmed the usefulness of this event: they met friends even before arriving in Sweden!

Application of Residence Permit (applicable to non-European students)

If you are not an European citizen, you must obtain a residence permit before you enter Sweden. Once the tuition fee is paid, it is suggested that the residence permit should be applied as soon as you got the offer! The good news is, it is relatively convenient with only 3 steps:

Step 1 :Fill in the online application form at Swedish Migration Agency

Step 2: Once your application is accepted (typically takes 2 -4 weeks), visit the local Swedish embassy or consulate for personal data recording

Step 3: Pick up residence permit card at the local Swedish embassy (typically 2 weeks after step 2)


If you are a non-European student, congratulations as your accommodation is guaranteed by KTH in the first year! From now until 31th May 2018,  you could visit KTH Accommodation to see what kind of services it offers, and register for a student hostel!

On the other hand, if you come from an European countries, it is highly recommended to start looking for your own accommodation as soon as you got admitted. You should register ASAP at, Stockholm’s Student Accommodation, and start queuing for a student room at a lower-than-market price.

You may be interested in my previous blog All about KTH Accommodation to learn about the types of rooms you can choose, the locations of student hostels and some common questions regarding hostel application!

Below is a summary of the links that might be useful for you:

  1. Key dates and deadlines for admission:
  2. How to apply for a residence permit:
  3. Website of Swedish Migration Agency (through which you submit your online residence permit application):
  4. KTH Accommodation:
  5. Stockholm’s Student Accommodation (SSSB):

Extending your residence permit: it is the time to consider

If you are a first year master student, February can be a good time to think about extending your residence permit, as you may start applying as early as six month before your residence permit expires on 31/08/2018. Trust me, you would want to do it sooner rather than later!



The migration agency in Sweden will tell you that the process differs from case to case. It is true, though I can provide you with my own the timeline, which might be typical for a student visa extension:

I started my application in the middle of May and the entire application takes as long as 3.5 months for me. As summer is usually the peak of all kinds of applications at Migration agency (“Migrationsverket” in Swedish), it is really important not to apply at the last minute!



Online application is the most common and the easiest way to extend your permit. You will be asked to:

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Course Review: High-throughput data analysis

The course, BB2491 High-throughput data analysis, is the core of MTLS education at KTH. How does BB2491 differ from traditional biology lectures that we have so far? In this blog I will talk a bit about why, and how we should learn and master high-throughput science!

First, why study high-throughput? It is involved in a myriad of industrial applications, as well as the frontiers of research, to name but a few:

  • Next Generation Sequencing (NGS) is the best illustration of generating and analysing high-throughput data
  • High-throuput compound screening dominates lead discovery for manufacturing of small molecule drug
  • Traditional gene-targeting methods are sufficient for analysis of mendelian diseases, but diseases that involves more complex interplay, requires collecting and analysing “bigger data”

In BB2491, the teaching follows a logical transition from theory, practice to a hand-on project.


In biology, high throughput analysis can be split into three parts, namely Genomics, Transcriptomics, and Proteomics. Correspondingly, we have three professors responsible for each part:


Lukas Käll                                Lars Arvestad                               Olof Emanuelsson

In contrast to traditional biology lectures, we have no designated text book; alternatively, we have 33 research papers or scientific reviews as mandatory reading materials! It sounds a bit daunting in the beginning, but under the careful guidance of teachers, as well as  fundamental building blocks in previous course (Genomics, Proteomics, Bioinformatics), we are able to dive into the ocean of knowledge!

For example, while Olof introduced the basic concept of RPKM in abundance estimation at the start of the transcriptomics part, it is concluded by four excellent students at the edge of RNA sequencing techniques.


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See you at Stockholm: STAF Student Arrival Day 2018

Tomorrow, the 14th of January, is the official arrival day of incoming students for 2018 Spring semester. On this day, thousands of students from all corners of the world are going to arrive at Arlanda Airport, to start their study in one of the 18 higher education institutes in Stockholm. It is my honor to be a part of the student arrival team, organised by Stockholm Academic Forum, and be your guide on shuttle bus as well as at Terminal 5 🙂


We pick up students arriving from Terminal 2/5 and guide their to the shuttle bus station. We have a information desk at Terminal 5 for inquiries:

Photo: Stockholm University on Twitter


From 9 AM to 9 PM, shuttle buses depart from Arlanda to the city.  In the morning hours, buses stop at the city centre (T-Centralen); while in the afternoon they stop at both Stockholm University and T-Centralen.

Frequency: one bus per hour

Seats on each bus: 50

Reminder: if you have a rental contract with KTH Accommodation, do pick up the key on another day: the office is NOT opened on 14th January!


You must be curious about what are inside the goodie bags that will be distributed to every incoming students. There are:

  • A PREPAID SIM card
  • A comprehensive guide book and transportation map of Stockholm
  • A bottle of water: so, you don’t have to buy any water at the airport 🙂
  • A reflex

I would like to add a few sentences about the reflex: born and raised in a  low-latitude region, I never wear a reflex before and therefore didn’t recognised and later discarded it T_T You will find it extremely useful to be carried with you, when you walk at winter night (the local definition of winter night is : after 3.30 PM)


This year, we distribute a physical shuttle bus ticket at Terminal 5. Keep it with you as a certificate to get on the bus on time.


As you are not entitled to student discount in Stockholm’s public transport before you are officially registered as students, you need a regular SL card. One-time, day, week, or month access of metro, trains, buses and trams are available.

A SL Card

Visit–tickets/ for the price list of tickets. For details, visit the SL centre at your any nearest metro station.

Reminder: tickets CANNOT be purchased on bus.


I was among the 1200 incoming students in August 2016. Although I arrived at the peak hour of the day, the journey of Terminal-airport-my accommodation was generally smooth and relaxing. Now, it is the time to give it back 😉

The 2017 Arrival Team

I will be in charge in the afternoon, so don’t forget to say hi, if you see me at Arlanda 😀