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Advent calendar - December 6th - Alessia Lasorsa

06 December 2023

In the Zernike Institute Advent Calendar, we are presenting 24 short spotlights in December. In these specials, we highlight PhD students, postdocs, support staff and technicians of our research groups and team - providing a glimpse in their typical day at work. In Episode 6 meet Alessia Lasorsa, Research technician in the Solid-state NMR group of Prof. Patrick van der Wel.

Alessia Lasorsa
Alessia Lasorsa

I work as a solid-state NMR research technician at the University of Groningen in Prof. Patrick van der Wel's group. I find it very gratifying, as it gives me the opportunity to work on something I am passionate about and contribute to diverse projects spanning structural biology and materials science. While our primary focus is on proteins, we have also undertaken various successful materials projects. Therefore, I have the motivation to continue on both fronts to the best of my abilities. Working with highly specialized techniques like NMR in multidisciplinary fields presents several challenges that require serious effort, but I think that the rewards make it all worthwhile.

My interest in NMR dates back to my Ph.D. days in 2013, exactly ten years ago. I vividly remember witnessing the first experiment in action, revealing a complex entity, a protein, atom by atom. Biomolecular NMR is extremely fascinating to me, and solid-state NMR provides a powerful tool for studying complex systems, such as membrane proteins in physiological-like environments, at the molecular level, giving insights into both structure and dynamics. Particularly, dynamics have been increasingly leveraged, for instance, in drug design.

When embarking on interdisciplinary work with complex and multifaceted techniques, one can decide where to allocate more energy and where their interest lies—whether in hardware or pulse program development, sample production, or sophisticated data analysis. In some sense, my daily routine varies; some days, I focus on understanding a specific pulse program, while others on troubleshooting a hardware-related issue. I believe that having specialized, yet broad knowledge and understanding is a plus.

My daily routine always begins with a cup of coffee—a ritual that gives me energy and a positive attitude. Beyond research work, there are numerous organizational tasks that I need to fulfil. Taking notes and prioritising activities help me stay on track. I enjoy exploring the recent literature, with data analysis being probably my favourite.

Being a part of this university is a source of great satisfaction, especially due to the presence of fantastic and highly knowledgeable colleagues, which enhances the journey even further.

Last modified:01 December 2023 10.29 a.m.

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