When you do your own experiments, you’ll appreciate the great laboratory equipment

Sabina Fronková graduated from the Brno-Bystrc Grammar School and then applied to us for a Bachelor's degree in Molecular Biology and Genetics. Having successfully completed her degree, she is now continuing her studies with a follow-up Master's degree in Biotechnology. She is also a member of the Generation Mendel team, which celebrated great success last autumn with its synthetic biology project in the iGEM international competition. Sabina is 22 years old and loves music (especially playing the flute and piano), nature trips and craft work.

15 Feb 2021 Barbora Kameníková

Photo: Helena Brunnerová

What did you want to be when you were young?

As a kid, I wanted to be a kindergarten or first grade teacher, depending on which one I was attending at the time. At high school, I toyed a lot with the idea of playing the flute professionally, but in the end biology won.

Did you study biology before studying at university?

Together with my best friend Lucka, I focused on biological olympiads. We were mainly introduced to biology by a great class teacher, who took us for biology and chemistry. Lucka and I learned to recognise plants and animals and we discussed preparatory texts. In the end, we both ended up at the Faculty of Science, though each in a different field.

Why did you choose Molecular Biology and Genetics, and why did you later move to Biotechnology?

I wanted to do something biological that would lead to a job in science, perhaps in a company or in healthcare. Actually, when I was in high school, I had no idea what you could do in this kind of field because the general public generally has no idea what an experimental biologist actually does. But I knew I would enjoy it, and this became true. Fortunately, during my studies, I discovered that perhaps there has been no better time to study molecular biology than right now, when sometimes not a month goes by without a significant discovery. For my follow-up studies, I switched to the new field of Biotechnology because I like the idea of putting into practice what I have learnt. Thanks to this, I will be working on my diploma thesis with a biotechnology company, which I am very much looking forward to.

What led you to choose the Faculty of Science in Brno?

I’m from Brno, so the crucial factor was simply that I was close to home. But the prestige of Masaryk University and, of course, the Bohunice campus, also played a role.

Would you choose our faculty again?


How do you like the environment where you study?

I don’t know a freshman who wouldn’t be looking forward to life at the Bohunice campus, which looks ‘super scientific’. After a few years of being here, my enthusiasm has remained. The best bit is probably the nicely-equipped laboratories (even the student labs for practical lectures), the beautiful library, the student’s ‘chill’ room and the long corridors (but look out for me as you run out of lectures! 😆). Also, as you come to do your own experiments, you really come to appreciate the great equipment the campus labs offer.

I think the only thing that could be better is more seats in the hallways, especially when waiting for a lecture.

How do you like Brno?

Brno is the best! Everything is within driving distance, or even walking distance, there’s a lot of countryside and hiking trails around, and lots of other activities available. Also, thanks to the universities, there are loads of cultural events organised by students or their associations.

Which subject has impressed you most and why?

Mostly, the optional subjects. In addition to covering the basic curriculum these also broaden your knowledge. I have really enjoyed Professor Šmarda’s subjects based on ‘Stories of Science: Cancer and Gen’. I also enjoyed the new Synthetic Biology course, which is very much related to what we did in our iGEM project. If you want to know what biology and biological systems engineering is capable of, write down this course.

What possibilities are there for involving students in practical research?

It depends a lot on which field you are studying. In a Bachelor's thesis in Molecular Biology and Genetics, for example, you tend not to do any experiments. But a lot depends upon the initiative of the student. You can just go with the flow or, if you really want, you can find some practical work in the laboratory. After gaining some basic practical experience, you might then have the possibility of participating in actual research.

How did you get into Generation Mendel?

I got into the association thanks to my classmates Barča and Standa, who were looking for team members to participate in the iGEM international competition in synthetic biology. They posted flyers and then we met with other team members at the first meeting. We decided then to enter the competition, and so we founded the Generation Mendel Association.

What have you gained from your participation in Generation Mendel?

In particular, a lot of great new friends. We’re all different, but it’s great how we’re all on the same wavelength. A year ago, I would not have believed that we were capable of all that we accomplished, not just working in the laboratory but also in preparing events or arranging other things for the association. Thanks to this, participating in the team not only gave me a lot of new experience but also new experiences, not only in the field of biology but also in education or making graphics and so on.

What are your plans for the future?

I want to complete my Master’s degree first, then I will decide whether I will go on to do a Doctorate or go straight into employment. At the moment, I am more inclined to employment. I am also looking forward to another iGEM project and other events that we are planning in the Generation Mendel Association.

Translated by Kevin Roche

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