Welcome to the first post in our weekly series, Meet the Fellows. Each blog post will feature a short interview with one of the fellows of the metaRNA network. Today we have the pleasure to meet Sara Masachis!
What is your background in science (and otherwise)? Why are you motivated to work on your research topic? What do you hope to accomplish during your PhD?
My background is in Molecular Biology, I’ve been trying to unravel the genetic and molecular mechanisms that enable a pathogen to effectively interact with its host and survive while working in Antonio Di Pietro’s Lab at UCO Spain. I’m deeply grateful for this experience that allowed me to discover my inner motivation for science. I was working with a plant pathogenic fungus called Fusarium that I realized the lack of genetic regulator tools for Molecular Biology, not only for this fungus but for the vast majority of “non-model” organisms; therefore I became interested in the potential of the extremely powerful field of synthetic biology.
During my PhD I hope to develop myself both personally and scientifically at the same time I’ll try to contribute to the global scientific knowledge.
What does your lab do? What is a brief description of the project you work on?
I am working in Jean-Jacques Toulmé’s Lab within the French Institute for medical research (INSERM) in Bordeaux, France. The lab aim is the development of nucleic acid tools for application in imaging, analytic chemistry and synthetic biology.
My project focuses in the development of nucleic acid-based genetic regulator modules able to regulate gene expression at different levels: transcription, translation and/or alternative splicing. Ultimately, the aim is connecting the rational design and physical characterization of the modules with their functional characterization and in vivo application.
It hasn’t been that long since we were interviewing for PhDs; what are some pointers you would give to students looking for a PhD to do during their undergraduate or Master’s?
Ask. Ask first of all yourself; try to identify your interests and what really intrinsically motivates you. Then, and this is optional and should be taken carefully, ask other PhD students, postdocs and professors about their careers, how and why did they reach that position and why they’ve decide to continue or not.
Keep in mind that you will expend at least the next 3-4 years working in something that can and will get so hard at times, so it is extremely important that you are enthusiast and motivated about it. Nevertheless, we are humans, mistakes are part of us, and if you finally realize that it was not what you thought don’t be afraid to embrace change, it will make you grow anyway.
What are your short-term and long-term career goals (aka, what do you want to be “when you grow up” 😉 )?
My short-term goals are to find my way through this immense field of synthetic biology to push in the right direction my PhD project, and at the same time improve my French and readjust my biological clock to the rhythm of France.
My short-term goals are to find my way through this immense field of synthetic biology to push in the right direction my PhD project
When I grow up? For the moment I would like to stay in science, probably going back to basic science but this time with the perspective and skills of synthetic biology.
What do you like to do for fun (outside of science, of course)?
Ballet, run, wine and cheese parties.
What is your favourite food?
Chocolate, wine, pizza
If you would like to find out more about Sara and you are ready to read some mind-challenging philosophical-sociological posts, have a look at her personal blog!