Allison Ballandras-Colas

Postdoctoral fellow at the Francis Crick Institute in London

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Keep studying, stop lose faith, don't listen to voices saying you can't do it, even the one in your head.

What do you do?

I study a viral protein that integrates the viral genomic DNA into the infected host DNA, notably the protein from HIV-1 (Human Immunodeficiency Virus) but also from other retroviruses.
I'm a structural biologist, which means I use X-ray crystallography and cryo-electron microscopy to solve the 3D structure of my proteins of interest and learn about their enzymatic mechanism. I also do a lot of biochemistry to further describe how these proteins work.

Why did you choose this field?

Since I'm a little girl, I love solving puzzles and jigsaw enigmas. During high school I was more of a math/physics person than a biology person (ask my teacher, I failed biology big time!). It's only during university than I got into understanding the human biology and how fascinating it is, but I think what really got me where I am is one of my teacher at uni, he introduced me to structure biology which uses physics to uncover biological mechanisms at the nanoscale and under! The perfect combo for me!

What do you look at and think, "I wish younger me would have known this was possible"?

I wish younger me would have know one day I would be considered a major contributor to my field by my peers. Still to date I relate to the impostor syndrome, I wish I would believe more in myself.

Why do you love working in STEM?

I get to observe the details of life to the atomic level, how cool is that?!

Best advice for next generation?

Keep studying, stop lose faith, don't listen to voices saying you can't do it, even the one in your head. Especially not the one in your head, you can do this!

Inspo quote / fun fact / role model

We must have perseverance and above all confidence in ourselves. Marie Curie

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