Short biographic note
Ewelina is a young scientist from Poland. She obtained bachelor of engineering degree in biotechnology and master degree in molecular biotechnology at Jagiellonian University in Cracow.
During her master's studies, Ewelina worked on alternative doxorubicin therapy of lung cancer. She also broadened her knowledge and skills during international training and internships.
She is doing her PhD as a Marie-Curie Early Stage Researcher at the Department of Physics/CIMaINa at the University of Milan.
As participant of the Phys2BioMed project, Ewelina will investigate the relation between mechanical properties of the extracellular matrix (ECM), and the development and progression of diseases.
Nano-mechanical fingerprints of extracellular matrices from healthy and tumoural tissues
1st July 2019
To investigate the relation between the mechanical properties of the extracellular matrix (ECM), and the development and progression of diseases (with focus on bladder cancer): to develop a standardised approach for the nano-mechanical characterisation of ECM samples from clinical tissues.
During this project the ESR will investigate the mechanical fingerprints of diseases, focusing in particular on bladder cancer, in collaboration with Ospedale San Raffaele (OSR). To this purpose, the ESR will contribute developing and validating sample preparation protocols for ECM derived from clinical tissues, in close collaboration with medical partners. Samples will be studied primarily by AFM-based indentation, but also by complementary correlative techniques. The cellular component of tissues will be studied also by microfluidic cytometry. The ESR will participate to the network-wide standardisation effort at the clinical level. The ESR will be involved actively on several network tasks in training, dissemination and communication, and will support coordination activities of the PI.
Friedrich-Alexander-Universität Erlangen-Nürnberg FAU (Germany), elasticity study of suspended cells by fluidic cytometry; IBEC (Spain),mastering frequency-dependent AFM indentation measurements; IFJPAN (Poland), mechanical signature of disease in ECMs; BioMeca SAS (France), sample preparation procedures for ECMs and cells, and data analysis; TMT-C2RC (France), , mastering sample preparation techniques with clinical tissues; CNRS (France), correlative techniques complementary to AFM.
Question 1: What is your background?
Ewelina: I got my bachelor’s degree with an engineering title in biotechnology. Then, I did my master degree in molecular biology. In general, I would say I am a biotechnologist with a focus on cell biology and cancer research.
Question 2: Can you describe your project in one sentence?
Ewelina: The investigation of nanomechanical properties of extracellular matrix during cancer progression.
Question 3: What is the biggest difficulty you are facing within your research right now and how do you plan to overcome it?
Ewelina: In general, I am a biotechnologist, so I have a wide knowledge about bioengineering, biology, cancer etc. But right now, I am also working with Atomic Force Microscopy so physics, mathematical equations and complicated data analysis is kind of a new thing for me. So, when we get too much into detail about AFM, I get a little bit lost. What I am doing to overcome is to read more papers to better understand it and also, I am simply asking questions and asking for help.
Question 4: Why did you choose a research path?
Ewelina: I think it’s something I found interesting from the beginning. In high school I attended a class in the biology/chemistry profile so I was already interested in science. Also, being a scientist is not like many other types of jobs: you don’t do the same things every day. One day you do experiments, another day you read papers and what you’ll do next depends on the results. So you never know what you will be doing in the next year and where your research will lead you.
Question 5: What 3 traits do you believe are most useful to succeed in this occupation?
Ewelina: I think it’s important to be open-minded, ready for the unexpected, to not assume what will be the results because they can be something completely different than what you originally expected. By saying this, I also mean that you shouldn’t be focused solely on, for example, the chemical aspects of your project, you need to keep in mind that everything is connected: there is also biology, physics, etc. You have to be ready to collaborate and learn new things, so the second trait would be collaborative. Finally, the last trait would be to be patient: research takes a lot of time and you will probably have to repeat experiments.
Question 6: What’s the best and worst part about academia?
Ewelina: The best part of academia is that I can do what I really like, which is scientific research. I also get to do the job I’ve been preparing for in the last years. Another positive aspect would be our flexible work schedule, where you work when you have to and not just be in the office for a mandatory 8 hours a day. You have control over your work and what you do. The fact that you can be creative in your research. The worst part about academia is that I have to do a lot of presentations, something that I really don’t enjoy… But in general, I like working in academia! That’s why I’m here.
Question 7: What are your goals for your free time?
Ewelina: In general, I don’t set goals for my free time, I just like to enjoy it. Maybe I do have very general and long-term goals, like hiking as much as possible and maybe one day I would like to be on top of Mont Blanc. Maybe also to get better at ice-skating and read as much as possible. But no deadlines for me!
Question 8: What’s the most interesting thing about you that we wouldn’t learn from your CV alone?
Ewelina: I am a music lover: at the current moment I have three guitars, a lot of vinyls and CD’s in my collection. Also, I did a horse riding course as a kid! I haven’t done it in maybe 15 years, but I think it’s like riding a bike, you just don’t forget it.
Question 9: If you were stranded on a deserted island what 3 things will you take with you and why?
Ewelina: I would take my books, probably my music stuff and if this island has mountains, then I would take my hiking equipment!
Question 10: What’s one thing you love about Milan and one thing you don’t like?
Ewelina: What I like about Milan and, in general, about Italy is the food and the culture. For me, this city is really nice, even if it’s very big and full of skyscrapers. Milan is close to Alps, what is also very important for me. What I don’t like… that there is no winter! Winter here is like autumn in Poland, you don’t have snow. For me, winter without snow is not a winter!