Alex van der Wateren has interviewed Bárbara Nogueira, one of the members who has been very active at the space last year. We learn about her background, her interests, and how covid-19 has affected her work at the space.
Q: Can you tell us a little about yourself?
I am a PhD student in Cambridge with a background in biochemistry and biotechnology. I did both my degrees back home in Portugal. I then moved to Spain to start my PhD research in chemical synthesis and bioconjugation. It is an industrial PhD with the start-up company PockitDiagnostics, a company founded in Cambridge. The company is working on blood tests for stroke subtype differentiation to help enable fast and accurate diagnosis in stroke patients. My project focuses on bioconjugation for the detection of biomarkers and its application in point-of-care diagnostics.
Science was not my first choice, as I initially wanted to study medicine. However, I did not manage to get into medical school so I decided that I should move on from this plan, and chose to study science instead. As I started doing internships as part of my degrees, I found I really enjoyed doing science, and I eventually ended up doing my Master’s research project at the University of Reading in point-of-care diagnostics. I am now close to finishing my PhD and after graduation I plan to find a job in industry in Cambridge. I like that science in industry is faster paced and the research more focused, as this fits me better than academic research.
Q: How did you find out about Biomakespace, and why did you join?
I found out about Biomakespace through my PhD research as PockitDiagnostics uses the lab space for their R&D. Biomakespace is really good for working on smaller projects, so it is the best space for the company, and me, to be.
Q: What do you hope to gain from being a member?
When I found out that Biomakespace is a community lab where you share the facilities, I was hoping to get in contact with different people with each their own varied experience. I was hoping to learn from others, and to be able to share my skills and expertise too. I was also excited by how Biomakespace facilitates access to science to everyone and by how it communicates science to the public. I hoped to get some experience in this area through helping out at the space.
Q: Do you have any skills, knowledge, or expertise to contribute to the community?
I am keen to share my skills, with my main area of expertise being immunoassays and knowledge on point-of-care diagnostics. I am also good at organising things, especially events, and at Biomakespace I contribute by being a biological safety officer. I am hoping to gain some skills in interaction with the public through workshops and science fairs to help bring science to the public.
Q: How has your experience been so far?
It is a great lab as it has enabled me to do all the experiments I need for my PhD research as well as the work that the company wants to do. I found the people at the space are really friendly, and things are very organised. There are always people around to help you solve your problems, so this has all been great. You end up talking with others about your project and their project so you may get new ideas yourself or help someone else get a new idea, so it’s a great community.
I will probably not be as active in the lab after I finish my PhD, but I would like to keep informed on what is going on at the space, and I want to continue to participate especially with regards to events and fairs.
Things have been a bit different with Covid-19, so from March to June 2020 I was not in the lab and worked on my PhD thesis full time. I then spent some time back in the lab, and from late 2020 I have been writing again. So although the restrictions due to the pandemic have been rough for some people, not being able to work in the lab as much has helped me focus on my writing, which had to be done eventually!