What is your current role and what does a typical week look like?
I am a Senior Research Fellow with joint appointment between SLS and Chemistry, although I spend most of my time in SLS, where my office and laboratory space are. My current role is research focused, which means that a good part of my week is spent working on laboratory experiments, data analysis, reading relevant literature, as well as supervising and training postgraduate research students.
At the moment, I am working from home for one or two days a week, which I try to make coincide with scheduled meetings and seminars. Aside of research, I have also been involved in frontal teaching for a couple of modules in term 1: Chemistry for Biological Sciences and The Fundamentals of Biotechnology & Genetic Engineering.
Which part of your role do you enjoy the most, and what are the biggest challenges?
The part of my role that I enjoy the most is probably the drafting of manuscripts for publication. I find it particularly stimulating as it gives me the opportunity to convey useful information to the scientific community while allowing me to be creative through my writing. Related to this, one of the biggest challenges of my role as an early-career researcher is the pressure of getting articles published. Similarly, securing external funding in the form of fellowships or grants is also a challenging and critical aspect of my role, which is nonetheless extremely rewarding when successful.
Who would you say is your role model in your personal and/or professional life?
One of my professional role models is Rita Levi-Montalcini, an Italian neurobiologist whose commitment and devotion to scientific advancement I find particularly inspiring. During the Second World War she was banned from holding a university appointment by the anti-Jewish laws, so she set up a laboratory in her own bedroom and conducted research that set the foundations to her later work on nerve growth that led her to being awarded the Nobel prize in Physiology or Medicine.
How has your education or roles previous to joining Life Sciences, informed your interests, and why did you choose this career direction?
During my master’s degree in Environmental Biotechnology, I was able to carry out a research project at the University of Reading, thanks to the support of an Erasmus scholarship. That experience sparked my interest in microorganisms and the useful applications that these can have. So, I went on to study microbial natural products during my PhD at the University of Bristol, after which I joined Warwick as a postdoc. I decided to stay at Warwick to set up my own group because it is an internationally renowned research hub in the field of natural products.
Can you give an example of something that has made you feel part of the community while in Life Sciences, and what could be improved to enable this?
I think that the social events organised by SLS previous to the Covid19 pandemic have worked very well in making me and others feel part of the community. I always appreciated how the School was supportive not only of department-wide events, but also of initiatives aimed at smaller groups, such as those led by the Post-doc Society. Similarly, University-wide initiatives that I found particularly useful to make me feel part of a community include those organised by the LGBTQUA+ Staff Network, of which I am part.
What are your main interests or passions, outside of work?
I am a keen tennis player. I also enjoy cooking and baking – I regularly make sourdough bread and pizza and I’ve recently begun making my own fresh pasta.
Interview date February 2021