Alex van der Wateren is authoring a feature series finding out more about the Biomakespace members! In this third entry of the series, we learn more about Yanbo Yin, who has been an intern at the space.


Q: Can you tell us a little about yourself?

I just finished my 3rd year in physics here in Cambridge and am about to start Part III physics (the 4th year). I started out as a biologist but switched to physics in my second year because I became very interested in quantitative measurements. I’m originally from China but have lived in Birmingham for a long time so I went to school here in the UK. I’m pretty interested in all the sciences, but I am most interested in the process, the techniques etc. I don’t yet have an area that is more interesting to me than others but I think that as I’ll get more hands-on experience, I’ll likely develop some preference.


Q: How did you find out about Biomakespace, and why did you decide to want to intern?

I found out about Biomakespace a long time before I started my internship, actually. I went to a meeting of the Cambridge University Synthetic Biology Society where they were talking about Biomakespace. I didn’t know much about the space then, and I couldn’t really join at the time because I was too busy with my course work. Later, I saw they were looking for an intern and it sounded really different from what I am doing at the moment for my degree. I thought that I could do with trying something new and different, and I saw this internship as an opportunity to do some work independently.


Q: What do you hope to gain from being an intern?

I was hoping to get a feel for biology since I haven’t done it for so long. Once I got here I found out about all the different things that are happening in a lab. I was hoping to get a sense of how to go about running a lab and how to go about raising money for it, seeing what that process is like. I was also really interested in Jenny’s fellowship project. This project involves physical computing where you use computers to interact with the physical world. I am also interested in electronic engineering, which ties in with the computing. I haven’t had any formal training in this area so I am still at a very basic level, but it’s been really interesting to get some experience!


Q: What are your tasks/responsibilities during your internship?
I helped commission some of the equipment and did some of the things that needed to be done to make the space a usable lab space. Some examples are: getting equipment to work, contacting people to come in to fix equipment etc. I also had the opportunity to get involved in Jenny’s fellowship project. I have been working on the detection hardware/electronics side of it. The main thing I have been working on has been a specific piece of hardware for measuring absorbance of a sample solution. I worked on the detection electronics and created the 3D-printed plastic casing for it.


Q: Do you have any skills, knowledge, or expertise to contribute to the community?

I actually don’t know, haha. I am not sure I have any particular skills, knowledge or expertise, but I am interested in what is going on and happy to contribute.  


Q: How has your experience been so far?

I am currently in the last week of my internship and it’s been very interesting and I really enjoyed it. The internship has been a really important learning experience for me. Some things have been quite tough but I’ve been able to overcome those and people have been very helpful; I’ve had quite a good time here. I’d say I’ve improved most on the electronic hardware design front since I knew nothing at the start and know a little bit about it now.


Q: What are you going to do after you’ve completed your internship?

Next year I will do my Part III in physics. After that I am looking to get into a PhD, perhaps in biophysics or systems biology, but I haven’t made any concrete plans yet.


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