WHY STUDY MICROBIOLOGY?
Interview with the alumni: MIHA AVBERŠEK
Why did you decide to study microbiology? The decision to study was made in the first year of high school. I was sure I would work with viruses in the most dangerous laboratories. Why so? I don’t really know, but I definitely decided to study because of my interest and not because of the “job”.
What kind of student were you? (studied on a regular basis, enrolled in other activities, were on an exchange study abroad or “campaign”, partying?) I was a little more than an average student. I tried to attend all lectures, and the laboratory courses were mandatory anyway. The exams went more or less regularly, because that was the easiest way for me, at least. I was also interested in getting experience abroad, but I was not able to go on exchange study because no one was doing it in my time. In addition to my studies, I had many other activities, especially sports, which I easily placed among my other obligations. I even tried parallel study of biochemistry, but found out that I would easily burn out. To sum up – I managed to combine studying, active pursuits and fun.
What do you recommend to young people who are facing the decision to study? The main thing in choosing what to study should be primarily an interest in the topic. Choosing to study on the grounds “that there will be a job in the end” is just throwing sand in your eyes. In my opinion, good students are those who are interested in things. Anyone who merely learns, will never achieve "something more"
Interview with the alumni: JERICA SABOTIČ
Who? I am Jerica Sabotič, employed at the Department of Biotechnology, “Institut Jožef Stefan”, where I also conducted a doctoral dissertation in the field of biochemistry and biotechnology after studying microbiology. During my research work, I discovered the wonderful world of mushroom proteins that exhibit unique properties and can be used to protect plants, diagnose or treat cancer diseases, and study bacterial biofilms. I had many lecture invitations and received awards for my work (Prešeren Award, Krka Award, Lapanje Award, Outstanding Scientific Achievement, Prometheus of Science for Excellence in Science Communication) and scholarships (EMBO, Ad Futura).
Why microbiology? I decided to study microbiology because biology was my favourite subject in high school, but I didn’t like learning plant taxonomy and dissecting frogs (which was supposed to be part of the study of biology), and microbiology promised tremendous breadth of the field and applicability. And indeed, like microorganisms that are present everywhere and involved in everything, microbiology has also proven to be ubiquitous and able to answer a variety of questions. Understanding the life we have gained through learning about the life of microorganisms has given me an extremely open mindset that anything is possible. And that for every obstacle there is a way forward, if it is not possible to go around then go through it.
What do you associate with the BF? One of my memories from my studies is from the laboratory practicals in the morphology of the microorganisms in the first year of study, where I remember how we practised techniques of aseptic work with fire by holding three pencils between the fingers of one hand to master pipette handling and simultaneously opening the tube and burning it. We had a lot of fun and learned a lot at the same time.
WHY DO EMPLOYERS APPRECIATE MICROBIOLOGISTS?
THE NATIONAL LABORATORY OF HEALTH, ENVIRONMENT AND FOOD (NLZOH) is the largest Slovenian public health laboratory, which performs comprehensive analysis in the field of microbiology, environment, chemistry and other analysis important for public health. We are an important employer of microbiologists and we also offer internships for candidates with a Masters in microbiology. We offer Masters in microbiology opportunities for professional and research careers at various levels. We also offer them the opportunity to do research work and train as young researchers. Microbiologists are important staff members, especially as analysts in the laboratories for medical microbiological diagnostics.
EMPLOYERS ABOUT MICROBIOLOGISTS
NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF CHEMISTRY
Students and later experts in microbiology are very welcome staff members at the National Institute of Chemistry. We offer them opportunities for postgraduate training and possible employment in two departments, namely the Department of Molecular Biology and Nanobiotechnology and the Department of Synthetic Biology and Immunology.
Researchers at the Department of Molecular Biology and Nanobiotechnology study biological processes at the molecular level, down to atomic resolution. They are interested in the structure of molecules, and their complexes or molecular systems, as well as the nature and strength of the molecular interactions. With this knowledge, they want to understand and explain the mechanism of action of biological molecules in living organisms. They are mainly interested in the mechanisms of pathogenesis or disease states caused by microorganisms or other factors. In addition to research of the biological processes, they are also interested in how the acquired knowledge about biological macromolecules, their precise structure and mechanism of action can be used for medical purposes or in the field of nanobiotechnology. In this section, they have a good experience with microbiology students as their knowledge is good and broad. To achieve research goals, they need as interdisciplinary group as possible: biologists, chemists, biochemists, biophysicists, microbiologists, bioinformaticians, etc.
Researchers at the Department of Synthetic Biology and Immunology primarily strive to build new systems with desired functions from proteins taken from natural organisms, or to modify natural proteins and establish their desired function. The work products of synthetic biologists are cells that can count, proteins that can manage the DNA sequence, new cell therapies that can treat multiple cancers, and new protein structures that we do not see in nature. As they say, microbiologists have a unique view on cell biology. They know very well that life can exist in innumerable different forms, and they know how to recognise different cellular systems that allow the existence of different organisms. From this knowledge, as engineers, they can draw inspiration for new systems with which they want to solve a certain engineering problem. The Master of Microbiology, who works at this department as a young researcher, says: “On the one hand, my work is very biochemical (design, isolation and characterisation of proteins), which was quite new to me in practical terms. The second part is very molecular biologically oriented: this includes mainly cloning, in which we use many techniques that we learned in practice during the study of microbiology. The third part is electron microscopy as well as cryoelectron microscopy, which provides a more detailed insight into smaller complexes such as proteins.˝
You can get acquainted with the electron microscopy on the YouTube video shown below