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Spotlight: Oliwia Mruk - Biological Sciences (Bioinformatics) Student - University of Dundee

Tell us a fun fact about yourself.

I love art and like to participate in volunteering and job opportunities related to it as my hobby. Recently I designed a bag for Women in STEM and curated my own exhibition at the Science Centre. It can be extremely useful in biology as well!

Tell us about your career journey so far.

When I was choosing what to study at 18 I didn’t have a good idea of what I wanted to do in the future. I actually ended up switching my degree title in my first year. I remember being very unsure of where I wanted to take my education but it all changed when I went on an exchange to Sweden for a year.

I got to do a bioinformatics project and that is when I realized that I’m interested in more computational aspects of biology and started specializing in that direction. I also love to travel and through my exchange as well as international internships I realized I can merge my passion for STEM and see the world at the same time - there is a ton of opportunities in various fields for everyone. Applying for different opportunities, even if I didn’t think I would be interested at first, is what made a huge difference for me.

What was your favourite subject in school and why?

Biology was always my favorite subject at school. I think what I enjoyed most was learning about myself and the world around me, and trying to understand how it works on a molecular level. There is so much we don’t know yet so this taught me to be inquisitive and ask why things are the way they are - this is extremely important when it comes to a research career later on.

What subjects/qualifications/skills are useful for your role?

When going into biological research the most important thing during your degree and beyond is having the drive to keep learning and improving, meaning being able to broaden your qualifications constantly. But if I had to choose a specific subject, biology and chemistry are the most important to have an understanding of, especially in the beginning, to build a strong base.

What is your favourite thing about your job?

What I’ve found the most exciting so far is learning from and collaborating with my colleagues and scientists. Since I’m studying bioinformatics I learn how to process and analyze experiment data but thanks to the structure of my studies I also get to spend a lot of time in the lab to perform my own experiments. I find it really insightful to be able to perform both and merge them to get the full picture.

What is a normal day in your role like?

As a Biological Sciences student, no day is the same. There are lectures and workshops I attend daily, but I often get to spend time in the lab as well. When studying a STEM subject at a university what I have found is that we are given so many possibilities and opportunities to figure out where we want to take our education, including choosing your own pathway or taking an internship abroad to learn something new. I think this really showcases that, while there is a lot of studying involved, there truly is no way to describe a normal day - it is up to you to where you want to take this opportunity.

And what does your job title mean?

Since I’m a student, this term can be quite flexible in terms of what I do. In Biological Sciences, it means attending lectures and laboratory sessions but generally also participating in societies, influencing how the university is run through student staff liaison meetings or helping out during events - all dependent on your personal interests.

Can you suggest an activity that could be done at home that illustrates an aspect of your work?


- programming (e.g. Scratch is a child-friendly programming platform)

At school: if the school has a dedicated robotics club it is a great gateway to programming (e.g. participating in FIRST LEGO League)


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