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Two IBE alumni receive the PhD Special Award in Biomedicine

Two IBE alumni receive the PhD Special Award in Biomedicine

Silvia Chafino and Marc de Manuel have received the PhD Special Award from the UPF PhD Programme in Biomedicine. We interview both IBE Alumni to get to know more about their doctorate and their future plans.

14.07.2020

 

The Steering Committee of the Doctoral School of UPF has accepted the proposal by the Academic Committee of the PhD Programme in Biomedicine to grant the awards to 8 students, among which 2 are IBE alumni:  Silvia Chafino for her Thesis on "Endocrine control of insect metamorphosis: Characterization of he "Metamorphic Gene Network"", and Marc de Manuel for his thesis entitled "Genetic introgression in chimpanzees and bonobos".

The Special Award Comittee that awarded the 2018-19 candidates was formed by Dr. Olga Valverde (President), Dr. Marc Güell (Secretary), Dr. Elena Bosch, Dr. Joaquim Gea, Dr. Ruben Vicente, Dr. M. Victoria Puig, Dr. Robert Castelo, Dr. Judith García Aymerich, Dr. Mariano Sentí and Dr. Núria Centeno (Vocals). The PhD Programme in Biomedicine is run by the DCEXS and currently enrols more than 400 doctoral students.

We have interviewed both IBE alumni to get to know better how was their experience and what tare their future perspectives.

 

Silvia Chafino: Doctor from Evolution and Developmental Biology lab, thesis co-directed by David Martin, Elena Casacuberta and Xavier Franch

You have now received an award for your doctoral thesis. I imagine that at times it was difficult. Now, in perspective, do you think that the effort was worth it?

Totally! When I started I would never have imagined all that a thesis involved. I started very motivated and thinking that it was a very good opportunity to learn a lot of techniques and knowledge, apart from seeing how the scientific world worked. And that finally, I would put all my knowledge in a book. But analysing it well, what I wrote in the book is a small part of everything I learned. So yes! Absolutely, it was worth it.

 

Currently, what research do you do? Is it connected to your thesis research?

Currently, I am working with the Development and Morphogenesis in Drosophila group led by Dr. Jordi Casanova at the Institute of Biomedical Research (IRB). From a general perspective, it is related - in the end I continue to work in development using insects as a model. However, now I only work with the fruit fly, Drosophila melanogaster.

 

What is the most important lesson you have learned while doing the PhD?

I have learned many things but I think the most important is to manage failure and frustration. During the PhD (and I suppose that throughout the entire scientific career) you spend a lot of time working on hypotheses that may not be correct and seeing that nothing comes out after all the effort, can be very frustrating. So it is very important to know how to manage it well, keep the motivation high and get ahead.

 

What message would you send to PhD students who are just starting their PhD at IBE?

I would tell them to try not to stay just within their group, make the best out of the experience and try to get to know as many people as possible, go to many conferences and do temporary stays abroad. This will give them a very broad perspective and they will be able to learn from different ways of doing and from different career paths. From my point of view, when you do your PhD, it is time to discover how you would like to be as a scientist, and getting to know other realities apart from that of your own lab makes you understand everything better.

 

Marc de Manuel: Doctor from Comparative Genomics Lab, led by Tomàs Marquès-Bonet

You have now received an award for your doctoral thesis. I imagine that at times it was difficult. Now, in perspective, do you think that the effort was worth it?

Yes, without any doubt. It is true that during the thesis it is inevitable to live certain complicated moments. In my case, I was lucky to overcome them and I consider that living these experiences has been one of the things that has made me grow more as a person and scientist. Despite this, I want to take the opportunity to say that the thesis also has many good things! And these are also very (more?) important to grow and learn.

 

Currently, what research do you do? Is it connected to your thesis research?

I am currently working with a laboratory at Columbia University in New York. My research consists of trying to better understand how germline mutations appear, with special emphasis on the number of mutations that fathers and mothers contribute to their offspring (fathers contribute 3 times more mutations, probably due to cellular differences between sperm and oocytes). My current research is not closely related to my thesis, and it is no coincidence: I have tried to diversify my scientific interests in my next stage as a postdoc.

 

What is the most important lesson you have learned while doing the PhD?

To relativize obstacles. The first year of the thesis you drown in a glass of water, any small problem makes you despair. Over the years you learn to calm down and face problems more calmly. I think stopping, stepping back, and seeing the problem "from the outside" is very helpful.

 

What message would you send to PhD students who are just starting their PhD at IBE?

Try to read articles that are not specifically about your research topic. Learning about different things is feed for fresh ideas, and can also help guide your research to different angles (which can be more interesting than the "typical" and usual view). I also recommend starting small independent projects for your thesis, even if they are personal projects to which you dedicate a few hours a week. We must not forget that we are future scientists and that our highest vocation must be to satisfy our curiosity!

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