In the Zernike Institute Advent Calendar, we are presenting 24 short spotlights in December. In these specials, we highlight PhD students, postdocs, and technicians of our research groups - providing a glimpse into their typical day at work. In Episode 2 meet Dr. Adéla Melcrová.
I am working as a postdoc in the Molecular Biophysics group of the Zernike Institute on an exciting topic: the working mechanism of novel antibiotics. In particular, I use both classical and high-speed atomic force microscopy to visualize the disrupting effects of the most promising antibiotics in development on the surface layers of bacteria. I analyze the stability of the bacterial surface and pair my experiments with fitting computer simulations to understand the working mechanism on a molecular level.
Apart from my research activities, I am also the safety and biosafety officer of our group. I give a safety lab tour to every newcomer, student, or researcher, and spend some time reminding the team on safety regulations.
I plan my work activities at least a week ahead. Mondays, I usually spend a few hours preparing the bacterial and antibiotic samples in a biochemistry lab. On a day of experiment, I start the machine, prepare a fine atomically flat and perfectly clean surface for my bacterial samples. I put them under the atomic force microscope, and then destroy them with the antibiotic monitoring the process as well as I can manage. Other days are spent on data analysis, literature reading, manuscript writing, and long discussions with my collaborators. I work closely with computational chemists and microbiologists from the GBB institute of the RUG, as well as the pharmaceutical companies, which develop drugs to treat resistant bacterial infections.
The biggest challenge in my work is the coordination with my family. I am a mother of two children, who go to school, need picking up from afterschool care, or taking to the swimming lessons. During a few years postdoc one needs to dedicate a lot of time and effort to the research to get nice results in that short time. Especially during the covid lockdown, I had three full time jobs at the same time – a researcher, a mother, and a home teacher to my kids - which was extremely exhausting. Luckily, I am not alone for all these roles and have a great support both at home and at work.
Contact: Dr. Adéla Melcrová
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