Our interviewee is Adam Frtús, molecular biologist, Ph.D. student at Charles University, Prague, Czech Republic. Adam is a member of the ČSBMB Junior, the junior section of the Czech Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology (ČSBMB), a FEBS Constituent Society.
What motivated you to pursue a career in science? Why did you choose this field?
As an undergrad student, I was fascinated by the molecular biology of the cell and the mechanisms that regulate signaling pathways in metabolism. The molecular machinery that plays an essential role in various cellular processes draws my attention. I was curious to learn and utilize the techniques of molecular biology. This desire to acquire knowledge and apply it in a meaningful way fueled my decision to pursue a career in science. Choosing the field of molecular biology was a natural fit for me. It offered a unique opportunity to delve into the fundamental aspects of biological systems, uncovering the intricate mechanisms that underpin life itself. The chance to contribute to the ever-expanding body of scientific knowledge and make a tangible impact on society through advancements in healthcare and biotechnology was immensely appealing.
Briefly introduce your research topic. What is the purpose of your research?
My research is focused on metabolic changes in mechanotransduction signaling pathways. Using an advanced 3D cell culture model, I am exploring the effects of physical cues induced by the biomaterial-based scaffolds that serve to mimic the extracellular matrix (ECM). 3D soft cellular microenvironment represents an advanced system in comparison with traditional 2D cell culture, which is usually maintained on stiff plastic, specifically glass-like material. I believe that 3D cell culture models might provide more relevant cellular responses in drug development and potentially reduce the usage of animals in research.
What excites you most about your work or research?
The molecular mechanisms that underlie cellular processes are fascinating. Just imagine that ATP synthase is producing energy at the inner mitochondrial membrane. Or how DNA is replicated utilizing wide molecular machinery. Ultimately, protein expression at the ribosomes is exciting and requires the orchestration of many elements. However, we still don't understand all of the pathological events at the cellular level. Therefore, I believe that gaining knowledge of various pathologies might improve diagnosis and treatment possibilities.
Among all the scientific discoveries of all time, which is your favorite? Why?
I am fascinated by the natural phenomenon of light. Cellular interaction with the light that is utilized in photomodulation (or low-level laser therapy) is very interesting and might be beneficial for patients with joint disorders, rheumatoid arthritis, and osteoarthritis. Scientists have transformed the natural phenomenon of light into laser applications, which have wide utilization in diagnosis, treatment and surgery. Therefore, the behavior of light photons in the double-slit experiment that describes the dual nature of light, i.e., particles and waves, is truly enchanting and my favorite.
What do you do as a scientist to make your work interesting and accessible to the public?
This is a great question, and I feel that there is an urgent need for scientists to communicate their science effectively with the public. In order to achieve that, I participate in science festivals and exhibitions. These events provide opportunities to showcase my research in interactive and visually appealing ways, allowing people of all ages to engage with science in a hands-on and enjoyable manner. Aside from that, I have published papers in open-access scientific journals. That ensures that my work is freely available to the public, allowing anyone to read and learn from it without paywalls. Ultimately, I try to maintain an active presence on social media platforms relevant to science communication, such as LinkedIn or Twitter. Through these channels, I share updates, key findings, and interesting aspects of my research. This allows me to connect with a wider audience, including non-scientists, and provide them with insights into the exciting world of science.
What do you like to do in your spare time? Do you have hobbies?
In my spare time, I enjoy a range of activities and hobbies that keep me active and engaged. Nature hiking allows me to disconnect from my daily routines and immerse myself in the beauty of the outdoors. I also find enjoyment in cycling, running, and playing PC games, which offer both physical and mental stimulation. Lastly, traveling is a passion that allows me to explore new places, experience different cultures, and expand my horizons.
How did you learn about the FEBS Junior Section? What motivated you to become a member?
I learnt about the FEBS Junior section on the FEBS Network. In 2022, the Junior section of ČSBMB was established, and we joined the FEBS Junior Section initiative. I wanted to actively contribute to the scientific community and be part of a larger network of fellow researchers and students who share similar interests and goals. Joining the FEBS Junior Section provided me with a platform to connect with like-minded individuals, exchange knowledge, and collaborate on scientific endeavors. Being a part of the Junior Section also offered unique opportunities for personal and professional development. Through participation in workshops, conferences, and seminars I could enhance my research skills, gain valuable insights from established scientists, and stay updated with the latest advancements in the fields of biochemistry and molecular biology.
What is the importance of getting involved in FEBS Junior Section activities for students and young scientists?
Being part of FEBS Junior Section enables students and young scientists to expand their professional network, enhance their skills, gain recognition for their work, and contribute to the scientific community. It also provides a platform to connect with like-minded individuals, exchange knowledge, and foster collaborations, ultimately supporting their personal and career growth.
What advice would you give to aspiring students and scientists?
Choose multiple advisors or supervisors because different visions might help you solve the complexity of a scientific problem. During intense work on your research topic in the laboratory, don’t forget about considering what is next in your career and exploring the professional pathways that you might take. Attend seminars and networking events. Travel to congresses and meet new people who might inspire you.
Where do you see your career going next?
After completing my Ph.D., I plan to pursue a post-doctoral position abroad to expand my research expertise and collaborate with leading scientists. However, I am also interested in exploring post-academic opportunities in the industry to apply my scientific knowledge to practical applications and contribute to innovative solutions.