Alex van der Wateren is authoring a feature series finding out more about the Biomakespace members! In this first entry of the series, we learn more about Anna Kuroshchenkova.
Q: Can you tell us a little about yourself?
I am from the Moscow region in Russia. I am currently doing my Bachelor’s degree in Biomedical Science, here in Cambridge at Anglia Ruskin University. I just completed the first year and am about to start the second. After I graduate I want to do a PhD and continue working in scientific research. I am really interested in science because when you’re doing research, you always come across new problems to solve, problems perhaps nobody before you solved: there are no written rules on what to do in a situation like that. Oftentimes in other jobs you just have to follow the protocol/instructions and it becomes routine from day to day. However, in research you always have to exercise your brain because every day you try to figure out what might be going wrong, why something’s not working, what else can you try etc. This aspect really interests me.
Q: How did you find out about Biomakespace, and why did you join?
Firstly, I joined the Cambridge University (CU) Biological Society and from there I learned about the CU Synthetic Biology Society. Through them I found out about Biomakespace, so it took quite a few steps for me to get here. Last year, together with the CU Synthetic Biology Society, Biomakespace had a wet-lab project in which it tried to introduce certain genes into E. coli, so that was quite interesting and made me want to join. I really enjoyed the lab work I’ve done so far but at my university I can’t just come to the lab and do my own thing. At Biomakespace you can try different things when you want to, so that’s great!
Q: What do you hope to gain from being a member?
I hope to carry out a couple of projects, ideally with some other people. I hope to get some more experience, learn new techniques, and try new things. Ideally I would like to do some research in the area of the microbiome and how it relates to diseases in humans. At the moment I don’t know whether I can do that at Biomakespace but perhaps in the future.
Q: Do you have any skills, knowledge, or expertise to contribute to the community?
I have experience in certain techniques already that I learned at university, and I am very glad to share what I know with others, especially with people who come from a different background. This applies also to very basic techniques such as pipetting, for instance.
We did DNA extraction and PCR during the last Biomakespace workshop and I helped Jenny a bit with this demonstration. I hope that in the future I can help out more with these workshops.
After I graduated from my first undergraduate degree, I worked in a financial department for several years. Jenny told me she needs to keep track of a lot of inventory and I think I might be able to help with this. I think I am quite good at being on top of my stuff, where I keep things, administration and organisation in general, so I think I can help out in this way too.
Q: How has your experience been so far?
I have been with Biomakespace since spring 2018 so it’s only been a few months now. So far, I have been taking part in the Biomaker challenge that’s taking place now, so I have already learned a lot about how a bioreactor can and should work.
Through the other work I’ve done at the space so far I’ve performed some PCR: I was surprised that it worked the first time I tried it on my own! This was really fun—I thought it would be harder. Another member of the space is currently working on his own project: he’s got a lot of experience since he’s been working as a researcher for many years. He’s been really helpful to me by answering my questions. At the moment I am sorting out safety forms etc. before I can continue with my project. This is not the most exciting stuff but an important part of safe lab work!