Meet Our Lab Heroes Awards™ 2021 Highly Commended Nominees: Martina Semenzato

Meet Our Lab Heroes Awards™ 2021 Highly Commended Nominees: Martina Semenzato
7 months ago

Meet Our Lab Heroes Awards™ 2021 Highly Commended Nominees: Martina Semenzato

We’re delighted to introduce one of our Lab Heroes Awards™ 2021 Highly Commended nominees, Martina Semenzato, of the Venetian Institute of Molecular Medicine in Italy. She was nominated by her colleagues in the Lab Leader category for her passion and devotion to research, her knowledge and experience in the lab, and her thoughtfulness and care for others.

Martina is currently a senior postdoc working on mitochondrial dynamics in cardiovascular diseases. She has a masters degree in Pharmaceutical Biotechnology and a PhD in Biochemistry and Biotechnology from the University of Study in Padua. She completed her PhD with Professor Fabio Di Lisa’s group at the Department of Biomedical Sciences, and now works with Professor Luca Scorrano at the Venetian Institute of Molecular Medicine.

We spoke to Martina about the Lab Heroes Awards, her current research, the challenges facing life science researchers today, and her advice for early career life scientists…


Congratulations, Martina! How did it feel when you found out that your colleagues had nominated you as their Lab Hero?

I was simply amazed when I discovered my nomination. I really did not expect it. I know that my colleagues are amazing, but I was not aware of this competition, so they really surprised me!


How did it feel when you found out you were named as ‘Highly Commended’?

It's an honor. It was already a privilege that my lab members chose to nominate me, but to be 'Highly Commended' is… unbelievable.


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

Life science researchers are the fundamental part of scientific progress. However, for external people, researchers are often not considered. In Italy for example, the majority of researchers do not have a fixed position, living through a bursary with ridiculous salaries and being considered as students from the Institution until they decide to quit their career or to escape abroad. I think that at least in my country, the first step would be to give dignity and more respect to our profession.


You were commended in the ‘Lab Leader’ category. What do you think are the most important qualities for effective leadership in the lab?

The most important quality is to be able to communicate with other lab members, especially when important decisions have to be taken or problems need to be solved. Being open-minded, since everybody in the lab can have a different point of view that could be useful to the others. This is independent from the position that a person has in the lab (student, post doc, technician lab manager, PI).


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

I've always been fascinated by Math and Science since I was in High School, but I started to seriously think about being a scientist when I started to work in a lab. The reason is the amazing things that you can do with your hands; using instruments that you can only find in a lab; planning how to solve an experimental issue; and the strong social interaction you build with your colleagues and PIs.


What do you enjoy most about working in STEM?

What I love about being a scientist is the mix between creativity and logic that stands behind it. Everything in Science is finely regulated, but can be completely changed by a single piece of evidence, so nothing is really expected or predictable and this allows you to be free-minded.


Can you tell us a bit more about what you’re working on in the lab currently?

I'm working on the role of mitochondrial dynamics in cardiovascular diseases.


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

My day has to start with a good cup of coffee while planning my experimental day using my planner or checking PubMed. Part of the job is to be able to perform all the possible experiments, taking into account the time and the procedures that I have to perform.


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

The biggest challenge is to find a way to keep doing science. As a senior postdoc in Italy it is almost impossible to continue your career, since there are no possibilities to progress further.


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

Based on my personal experience, I would suggest to be very organized and to build a strong scientific network of collaboration. This is the key to implementing your publication rate. Scientists are in general evaluated only through their publications.


How do you see your career developing in the future/where do you see yourself in 10 years?

In my dreams I will be running my own lab, but it will be too hard to realize now.


Which scientists working today do you most admire?

I admire the scientists that let their collaborators grow, teaching them how to be independent and developing creative minds.


What’s your favourite science quote?

"Imagination is more important than knowledge. For knowledge is limited to all we know and understand, while imagination embraces the entire world, and all there ever will be to know and understand." - Albert Einstein



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


Connect with Martina:


And you can meet our other Lab Heroes AwardsTM 2021 prize-winners here.


If you enjoyed this article, why not check out the other resources available on our blog. We are passionate about supporting life scientists including early career life scientists and PhD students - with really low-priced reagents and biochemicals, early career scientist grants, and resources to help with both personal and professional development. We know how tough it is - so we hope you find these helpful!

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