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Maria Masnata

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Be curious, ask yourself and others many questions and experiment as much as possible.

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WHAT DO YOU DO?

I am a freshly graduated Ph.D. in Neuroscience. During the past 4 years, I focused on learning and discovering new features and possible therapeutic approaches for neurodegenerative diseases such as Huntington’s disease. I worked in an extremely stimulating and challenging environment and grabbed as many opportunities as possible to engage in multiple collaborations with established researchers which provided me with exposure to international and multi-disciplinary work. I also strived to present my research at local and international meetings to disseminate my work and improve my communication skills. At this juncture in my life, due to my curiosity and adventurous nature, I plan to pursue my carrier in research.

WHY DID YOU CHOOSE THIS FIELD?

My interest in life science research was sparked very early in life when my dad, an experienced agronomist, used to bring me to the Sardinian-Italian countryside and lecture me on botanic, entomology and natural science in general. This curiosity took a more definite shape during my master’s in Pharmacy and once graduated, after I joined two different laboratories, including one in the USA. During those 9 months, I experienced, first-hand, the effort made by researchers to identify epigenetic biomarkers and efficient drugs to target neuronal degeneration. After this eye-opening experience, my desire and motivation to contribute to the development of novel therapies for neurodegenerative diseases was solidified and I decided to pursue my scientific carrier enrolling in a graduate program in neuroscience in Canada.

HOW DO/DID YOU TACKLE OBSTACLES?

Since I was a little girl, my dad has always told me: “There are problems and there is factual evidence, you can face and overcome any problems, but do not waste your time trying to change factual evidence”. His words have been echoing in my head ever since, pushing me to carefully analyze my issues, develop problem-solving strategies and accept what I cannot change… at least for the time being.

WHAT DO YOU LOOK AT & THINK, "I WISH YOUNGER ME WOULD HAVE KNOWN THIS WAS POSSIBLE?"

Less than a month ago, in January 2021, during a global pandemic, I defended my thesis via video conference in front of many people that witnessed my Ph.D. journey. I am immensely proud of my achievement and always looking forward to challenging and improving myself.

WHY DO YOU LOVE WORKING IN STEM?

Working in a STEM career means dealing with challenges and adventures which I have always been fascinated by. Being a very curious person, research gives me the opportunity to continuously learn and develop ideas and hypotheses, which I am always keen to share, question and improve.

BEST ADVICE FOR NEXT GENERATION?

Society sometimes pushes people to make choices that they are not always comfortable about, especially as women. Be curious, ask yourself and others many questions and experiment as much as possible, learning STEM disciplines is fun!

INSPIRATION

“The mind is not a vessel to be filled, but a fire to be kindled.”
Plutarch