Meet Our Lab Heroes Awards™ 2020 Runner-Up: Dr. Ziba Jaberansari

Meet Our Lab Heroes Awards™ 2020 Runner-Up: Dr. Ziba Jaberansari
3 years ago

Meet Our Lab Heroes Awards™ 2020 Runner-Up: Dr. Ziba Jaberansari

We’re delighted to introduce the second of our Lab Heroes Awards™ 2020 runners-up, Dr. Ziba Jaberansari of the University of Ottawa. Ziba was nominated by her PI, Dr Andrew Pelling, who told us just how much Ziba meant to him and his lab in 2020. He described her dedication to the team, and how she went above and beyond to keep the lab operating during the early stages of the pandemic.

Dr Pelling said:

“During the 2020 pandemic, Ziba’s commitment to the lab and our research program shone brightly. Even though the labs were closed, critical cell lines and experiments had to continue otherwise we would have lost many months of work. Ziba continued to go in almost every day to keep some of the most critical research projects going. She has been a remarkable partner in managing the lab as well as caring for anxious students and postdoctoral fellows. Beyond long lists of publications, accolades and awards, what we too often ignore are the crucial people who are the foundation of a successful research program. My lab would not function if the people doing the benchwork didn’t have someone like Ziba who offers steadfast encouragement, advice and friendship.”

Ziba completed her B.S. in Medical Laboratory Sciences at Shaheed Beheshti Medical University, Iran, in 2008. After working in paediatrics with children with leukaemia, she decided to study Stem Cell Biology at the University of Minnesota where she worked on developing a decellularizing mammalian lung and regenerating this 3D bio scaffold by using isolated adult lung's stem cells. After accomplishing her master thesis research, she moved to Europe to work as a PhD candidate at the Max Planck Institute for Heart and Lung Research in Germany. She completed her PhD in Biology & Life Sciences and received a Marie Curie Fellowship at Leica, Ireland, as a research associate for digital pathology. After working in the EU and Iran, she decided to emigrate to Canada where she could pursue a career in biomedical device design, tissue engineering and stem cell therapies. She moved to Ottawa in 2018 and joined Prof. Andrew Pelling's lab, developing biomaterials and scaffolds for the purpose of tissue engineering and regenerative medicine.

We spoke to Ziba about the Lab Heroes Awards, her current research, the challenges facing life science researchers, and a typical day in her lab.

Congratulations, Ziba! How did it feel when you found out that you had been nominated by your PI for the Lab Heroes Awards 2020?

I felt excited and surprised. I didn’t expect him to do that because I think what I have done is just part of my responsibility for the team! But for my PI to nominate me really meant a lot.

How did it feel when you found out you were one of our Lab Heroes runners-up?

I didn’t expect it, and it was very delightful news that made my day!

Why do you think it’s so important to champion life science researchers, and what more could be done to show life scientists recognition?

In science, not all the work and research carried out turns into published papers, or the great efforts and hours of work behind the papers might be ignored. Therefore, recognition of scientists and support staff, and their efforts to keep the research lab operating smoothly, is very crucial for life scientists and keeps them feeling emotionally and mentally supported and inspired.

What are you planning on using your Hello Bio vouchers for, and how will you spend the science career development grant?

I will buy some materials for the lab and use the grant to submit a paper that we are currently working on.

Did you always want to be a scientist when you were younger, and why?

When I was very young, I wanted to be a physician. However, I found the stem cell biology field very exciting, to find alternative medicine particularly, so I decided to study stem cell biology in grad school.

Tell us a bit more about what you're working on in the lab at the moment…

I’m mostly managing the lab and taking care of the daily operations. I also maintain the lab plants line for developing Biomaterials.

What does a typical day in the lab look like for you?

It starts with checking my emails for lab-related communications, checking the lab chores schedule and my students’ and Post docs’ schedules, tracking the current lab order delivery status, taking care of deliveries, placing new orders for the lab and updating the inventory. Then, I walk through the whole lab and monitor the devices such as the incubators and ULT freezer, and plant chamber function. I talk with our grad students and Post docs and make sure everything is all set for their daily experiments. Later, I start work on my project to make sure our lines and stocks of material are in good shape. In between, I will meet students, colleagues or university facility managers to discuss related matters for lab operation, and assist our students in running tests or troubleshooting, or carry out my own experiments for the project that I’m working.

What is it about your field of research that gets you most excited?

I love creating new and practical models in tissue engineering and 3D cultures that can be used for regenerative therapies.

What do you think are the biggest challenges or barriers facing life scientists at the moment?

In general, I think new funding and having a sustainable source of funding is the main concern.

What advice would you give to life scientists just starting out in their careers?

Always try to develop your skills and networks.

What's your favourite science quote?

“If we knew what we were doing, it wouldn't be called research.” - Albert Einstein

What do you think is the greatest scientific discovery of all time?

I think antibiotics and vaccines are the greatest discoveries made.


Thank you so much for the interview, Ziba! And congratulations once again! We look forward to keeping in touch with you and following your career as it progresses.

Ziba is a member of the Max Planck Institute Graduate Alumni.

You can connect with Ziba on social media in the following places:

And you can meet our other Lab Heroes AwardsTM 2020 prize-winners here.


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