Meet Our Lab Heroes Awards™ 2021 Highly Commended Nominees: Franco Biglione
It’s time to meet another of our Lab Heroes Awards™ 2021 Highly Commended nominees! Franco Biglione of the Institute of Molecular and Cellular Biology of Rosario, Argentina, was nominated in the Lab Scholar category for his outstanding empathy, generosity and enthusiasm in the lab. His colleagues described him as ‘a very motivated scientist with strong work ethics’ who is ‘always ready to lend a helping hand’ and is ‘simply the best colleague ever’.
Franco holds a biotechnology degree and is currently working as a doctoral candidate at the Biophysics of Molecular Recognition Lab at the Institute of Molecular and Cellular Biology of Rosario. He also works at the National University of Rosario teaching Biophysics, where he enjoys sharing his passion and enthusiasm for Structural Biology with others.
We chatted to Franco about his career so far, the challenges facing life scientists today, and his typical day in the lab…
Congratulations, Franco! How did it feel when you found out that your colleagues had nominated you as their Lab Hero?
When I found out I had been nominated as Lab Hero I felt really happy. I have always admired the people I work with, both academically and personally, and being nominated by them is an honour for me.
How did it feel when you found out our judges had chosen you as 'Highly Commended'?
Being selected as a highly commended nominee was a big surprise. Of all worldwide nominations I never thought mine could be selected. It is an inspiration to keep building supportive working environments.
Why do you think it’s so important to celebrate life science researchers, and what more could be done to show life scientists recognition?
Science has always been presented as a factual and analytical discipline, but scientists are not just their published results. Scientists feel, live, and sometimes struggle and it is really important to celebrate and recognise the hard work and willingness to work in collaborative environments where we are not alone but depend on the mutual support we have with our peers and colleagues.
Did you always want to be a scientist when you were younger, and if so, why?
Throughout high school I have always felt a fascination towards Science and tried to attend every scientific event possible. I think it was the amusement of trying to decipher the unknown, understand and explain different phenomena, and discover new amazing things that made science so attractive to me in the first place.
What do you enjoy most about working in STEM?
I always enjoy the feeling of solving a puzzle and fighting to find the answer behind a complicated question. For me, STEM feels like playing most of the time and it is rewarding discovering the “why” of how life works.
Can you tell us a bit more about what you're working on in the lab currently?
In the lab, we try to understand how a family of transcription factors known as “Growth-regulating factors (GRFs)” regulate plant growth and development. For that, we use biophysical methodologies to understand the structural basis governing GRF biological activity. In particular, I use Nuclear Magnetic Resonance (NMR) and different protein-ligand assays to decipher how this family of proteins recognize their target DNA and regulate plant growth. This is a really exciting project as it is a perfect example of how structural biology could decode the basis of how these transcription factors exert their key role in proper organismal development.
What does a typical day in the lab look like for you?
On a typical day at the lab, I like to arrive early and say hi to my lab mates while I start organising the bench before I take a few moments to re-analyse what I have to do when I start pipetting. Also, during the day we really enjoy using little incubation breaks to talk about our experiments or share ideas, and at midday we all meet for a picnic lunch if the weather allows it. These unwinding moments make work easier, in particular if the workload is heavy and the day will be long.
What do you think are the biggest challenges facing life scientists at the moment?
I believe that the COVID-19 pandemic was the biggest challenge that most life scientists across the globe had to face in the past two years. It was a time of adaptation, not only to new work habits but also to the development of new technologies and novel research that could aid the situation. Furthermore, it required full commitment and dedication to keep up with new knowledge and information that came out at a really fast pace.
How do you see your career developing in the future/where do you see yourself in 10 years?
In 10 years now, I see myself working at academia, possibly in structural biology, and if that is the case, I hope I could be settling as PI at the front of my own research.
Which scientists working today do you admire the most?
During my time in scientific research, I have learned to admire not a particular scientist but a group of them. Personally, I admire scientists working in developing countries such as mine where they manage to do high quality science even when resources are scarce.
And finally… can you tell us a science joke?
After a few years of working with protein purification, I would say that my favourite joke is: “If you are not part of the solution, you are part of the precipitate”.
Thank you so much for speaking to us Franco! And congratulations once again on being highly commended! We look forward to keeping in touch with you and following your career as it progresses.
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