Blog | A shared passion, a shared purpose and a shared experience.
Eduardo Frias-Anaya recently completed his PhD at the Open University. He is working as a laboratory operator at the UK Biocentre Lighthouse Lab.
We are living in a crazy time, so I was keen to use my skills and training to help people. I heard from friends in my university that there was a need for people with a scientific background who could work in the lab. I knew that I could do the work, so I wanted to help.
I’ve been involved in research projects for six years so the work in the lab is not super complex. For me, working at UK Biocentre is more about making a contribution and playing my part. I have trained and worked in labs, so I understand the importance of protocols and good lab practice. I know how to pipette properly, how to do PCRs and how to deal with waste from biological sources. These are the basic skills that are needed in the lab.
The work is very varied. Your role in the lab can change day by day. I’ve primarily been involved in the first step in the testing process which is receiving the samples and pipetting into the well plates.
The scale of the work is unlike anything I’ve ever previously experienced. Also, I’ve never used the Tecan robots so the training on how to use these machines has been useful. They push the analysis forward. Manually, we can do 5-7 plates per day while the Tecan robots can do 35 plates per day. The scale and number of samples processed every day is amazing.
A different perspective
There are a huge amount of people working in the lab in comparison to previous lab teams that I’ve worked with. There are around 40 people in the lab with backgrounds in both industry and academia, which is great. I’ve always had a mindset of research and academia and now I’m working alongside people from industry. Whilst I’m keen to continue in academia it is interesting to get a different point of view and it has made me think about different options.
All my scientific career has been focused on the neuroscience. I go to conferences where I only speak to people in neuroscience. But here, I am working with chemists, microbiologists and others. It’s great to hear about different topics and different perspectives. For example, how does a chemist see this situation? Talking with them all has been really interesting.
The work we are doing is important during an exceptional time in the world. It is in these situations that strong connections are formed. We work together for 12-hour shifts so you get to know your team members really well. We all have a shared passion, a shared purpose and a shared experience.
To put the skills that I have learnt over the years into action is a great feeling. It is good to know that my work is useful and that I’m making an impact in this time of crisis. At first, the scale of the lab was overwhelming but when you’re told that over 3 million samples have been tested. Wow! It’s amazing.
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