Meet Our Lab Heroes Awards™ 2021 Winners: Danica Budinščak

Meet Our Lab Heroes Awards™ 2021 Winners: Danica Budinščak
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5 months ago

Meet Our Lab Heroes Awards™ 2021 Winners: Danica Budinščak

We’re delighted to introduce the second of our Lab Heroes Awards™ 2021 winners, Danica Budinščak! Danica was chosen by our judging panel as the winner of our Lab Supporter category, which celebrates the technicians, managers and administrators who keep their labs running smoothly.

Danica is a histology technician at the Croatian Institute for Brain Research, and was nominated by 30 of her current and former colleagues who had plenty to say about her knowledge, professionalism, and unique sense of humour! She is described as an expert in her field, a ‘wizard’ when helping with experiments, and someone whose energy, spirit and enthusiasm have been the driving force of the lab for more than 30 years.

Danica began working at the Department of Pathology, School of Medicine, University of Zagreb, as a lab technician in 1975. She graduated as a laboratory diagnostics technician in 1986 and has been working as a histology technician at the Department of Anatomy since the mid-1980s, and at the Croatian Institute for Brain Research from 2000 onwards. She is highly experienced in various histochemical and histological techniques for staining human, primate and rodent brain tissue. 

We spoke to Danica about her science career, her advice for early career life scientists, and her thoughts on being named a Lab Hero…

 

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

I was surprised to hear about the nomination because my colleagues only told me about it a couple of days before the winners were publicly announced. It feels great to be acknowledged by colleagues after so many years in the lab.

 

How did it feel when you found out you were one of our Lab Heroes winners?

Again, really surprised and happy! It was so nice to read the nominations from colleagues that I work with, as well as those who used to work with me a long time ago.

 

What are you planning to use your Hello Bio vouchers and career development grant for?

I plan to attend the MNS neuroscience conference in 2022 and purchase Hello Bio products for the lab.

 

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

It's important to celebrate their research because they build the foundations of today's medicine, but their work is rarely recognized, except in the recent health crisis. They should be admired and paid more, because unfortunately it has become normal that life scientists are underpaid.

 

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

When I started school, I didn't know that I was going to work in STEM, but I'm happy it turned out that way!

 

What do you enjoy most about working in STEM?

I enjoy working with young colleagues (PhD students and young scientists) and helping them in their first steps in the field. Sharing my knowledge and experience with them is very important to me and makes me happy.

 

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

I'm working on human adult and fetal brain tissue: tissue processing, paraffin embedding, cutting, various histological stainings, etc.

 

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

I usually start my day planning the upcoming days with my collaborators and coming up with a timetable/plan of activities in the lab. Depending on the aforementioned plan, I spend the rest of the day in the lab working on tissue processing or histological stainings.

 

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

I've worked with a lot of scientists in different periods of their careers and I saw them both in successful and difficult times. I would advise them to choose their field carefully because there are going to be difficult periods in any career when it's easy to lose motivation.

 

Which scientists working today do you most admire?

I would emphasize academician Ivica Kostović and professor Miloš Judaš.

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Thank you so much for speaking to us, Danica! And congratulations once again on being one of our Lab Heroes winners for 2021!

Find out more about the Croatian Institute for Brain Research here.

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

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