Physics, Biochemistry, Cell, Biology, Research Scientist Stories | Meet PhD student Tombi Makuyana

In scientist stories.. We invite you to meet some of the scientists behind the research and discover more about what they do and how they got to be. Here.. Welcome to scientist stories., Im Jo and I work in the bioinformatics group at the Babraham Institute. Im really interested in promoting science subjects and science careers. In this scientist story Im chatting to Tombi. An immunology PhD student at the Babraham Institute., So Tombi, can you tell me What your, what your role is at the Babraham Institute., So Im a PhD student at Babraham Institute.. I am more of into research. I dont really take lectures and courses like that. Its a little bit of research which to me is perfect, because I get the flexibility of having to read ahead of time. Research where, if I feel like it is of interest to me.. So what is the research area of the group that you work in? My project is on respiratory immunology, so Im, basically looking at respiratory infections – and this is actually perfect, especially during this COVID times. Yeah looking at the lungs and how viruses affects the lungs. Actually can actually pave the way for us to find some therapeutics for these viral Pandemics so Im looking at how our body responds to these viruses, how they fight these viruses. Tombi. I know that you only recently started your PhD, but I wonder if you can tell us a little bit about what your day to day work looks like the day to day is just mainly research.

So mostly I wake up. I have to read a paper.. I try to read at least one paper every day., So its just a matter of getting into the habit of reading every day. And then afterwards answer answering emails Replying on each and every day. then do a little bit of experiments, but obviously, with this COVID 19, Its a bit slow, but when we dont have COVID. Its a lot more of experiments and experiment and a lot of analysing data, so its analysing data, doing experiments and reading papers.. So you mentioned that you are doing some experiments at the moment. Obviously, we have limited time in the laboratories. Currently what sorts of experiments are you doing in my group? I think its mainly using the flow cytometry, which is like this device, like you, use, to see the cells or to count the number of cells with a lot of flow, cytometry and qPCR, and also making sure that youre maintaining the tissues youre growing. The cells. You put them in a petri dish and then you grow them.. What is it that you find particularly inspiring within your research, area. Well Ill, say because I grew up in Zimbabwe in Africa and Ive seen many people dying because of like dying to diseases that you that I feel like if research was done on them, we could Have find a solution. So to me its just that immunology is closer to finding ways to help people, because we just study how the body responds to these pathogens, such as viruses, bacterias, you just basically studying the human body, cellular processes that happens inside the human body.

. So to me its actually a perfect way of helping and also contributing to efforts of improving others, health. So thats, basically like how I feel about immunology., So for you theres a theres, a very personal driver for why youre interested in. Yeah. Tombi. Can you tell me a little bit about your background and the educational route that led you to be here at the Babraham Institute., So I grew up in Zimbabwe thats, where I did my primary and secondary education.. The places is Okay, not bad, but the lack of research, basically because its just we dont have infrastructure in terms of research., So thats, where I grew up, so I I really wanted to get into research, or at least something to do with medical sciences.. So I then later moved to the US where I started medicinal biochemistry in the hope of understanding the cellular processes that happens when ever a person takes drugs inside their bodies.. So I really wanted to understand that aspect, or this was in the hope of trying to contribute something to help. My country cover this gap that we are lacking, especially research, so at Arizona State University, where I did my medicinal biochemistry I was involved in a couple of projects. First one I was working on was a cervical cancer project in this project. I was looking at biomarkers for early detection of cervical cancer.. I also worked on Alzheimers disease as well., So all these research experiences solidified my interest into going into a research career.

Thats. Why I applied for the post, grad education in research? Hence why I came to the UK for my PhD programme.. You mentioned that you studied medicinal biochemistry at university in America in terms of your secondary education.. What did you study. For me? It was we do the same as UK, so I studied maths, chemistry, bio and other one was physics, so I did all the sciences for my A levels because I knew I wanted to be in the science field, so I had to take all the science classes. So I can like really expand opportunities for me to get into. So thats how I did it. Very excitingly Tombi, you are a Gates scholar. Can you tell us a little bit more about what it means to be a Gates, scholar, Okay, so the Gates Foundation? They basically look at an individual who is willing to change the world, who have a good track record of, like academics like finding how you are doing in science., So they just provide funding for students who want to continue their graduate studies.. I did a couple of things.. We are helping the community like after I graduate.. For instance, I worked as a science teacher in Arizona where I was helping students to understand science in ways they can comprehend.. So that was one way I was giving back to the community. And when I applied for the Gates, I put that in my application, which was really one of the things that were looking for, someone is willing to change the world.

Tombi thats fantastic. What youve said so far you you know you are already well on the way to changing the world youre. Definitely looking out for the future.. Can you tell us a little bit about what you enjoy doing outside of science Outside of science? I am a social entrepreneur., So at the moment Im working on providing quality education to girls in Zimbabwe.. We provide education to these young girls. We assist with preschool girls from disadvantaged backgrounds. We provide them quality education at the same time, connect them to opportunity that can continue their education. And then another piece that we also trying to tackle is to help girls who are in high school, because when youre in high school, its thats the period where you Are also thinking of your future., You dont know what to do so. You need inspiration., So one of the things that Ive been working really hard to is to mentor these girls find girls who also do well in life and also pair them with these high school students. So they are motivated to continue working on their dreams., So thats, one of the some of the projects Ive been working on at the moment. And, of course, Im a singer and Im also a dancer. So I quite spend a lot of time working on this.. Thank you Tombi. I would wonder if you could possibly finish with any advice that you might have for students considering careers in science.

. I would say: go for it. You only have one life. So go for it dont, be afraid to dream. Just go for your dreams. And dont be afraid to dream. Just do it.. If you can do it..

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