After completing her placement as a R&D Support Scientist at Hyaltech, Elena returned to her degree with new knowledge, passion, and experience. Read about the exciting projects she worked on here...
What is your background?
Having grown up in Austria, I received my secondary education from a bilingual international school in Graz. Alongside school, I worked in restaurants, event-managing organisations and volunteered at a local psychiatric clinic. In my sixth year I had the opportunity to attend high school abroad in Wellington, New Zealand, therefore allowing me to appreciate the benefits of other cultures. I was always fascinated by the biology classes at school and last summer I was offered a placement in a chemistry laboratory working for Roche diagnostics. I think that eventually, all these experiences gave rise to my wish to continue my education in Scotland. I am now entering my third year at the University of Glasgow studying Neuroscience and I'm very much enjoying it!
What projects were you involved in?
My placement was intended to complete a research project titled “Evaluation of Sterilisation Methods for Hyaluronic Acid”. Hyaltech is a biomedical company working with hyaluronic acid produced by bacteria, which is processed into liquid injectables used in ophthalmic surgery, for treatment of osteoarthritis and has applications in skin rejuvenation. My aim was to find a suitable method of sterilisation of raw material and final product, which involved investigating techniques such as moist steam sterilisation, gamma irradiation, electron beam irradiation, UV germicidal irradiation and dry heat exposure. Tasks carried out during my time at Hyaltech involved attending meetings and communicating with different departments, setting up cooperation with external companies, literature research, planning and carrying out experiments, testing samples in the laboratory for their physico-chemical properties, statistical data analysis, scientific report writing and presentations on my project status every fortnight. In addition, I received basic training in company management, human resources, quality assurance, regulatory affairs, quality control, finance, operations and project management. All in all, there was a lot to do and learn making every day a new experience.
What did you get out of your placement?
In addition to the invaluable skills I learned in the laboratory and in connection to my project, I had the opportunity to gain experience in conducting my own research and tackle the challenges that come with it. This required a great deal of independent working and creative thinking! I learned how to be patient when something did not go as planned and to be persistent to achieve my goals. The latter often involved working in a team, which taught me to be flexible across different situations. In conclusion, I gained a better understanding of working in a research-led environment but also in a business-oriented company, which helped me envision what my future career may look like.
How has the placement influenced your return to studies?
I believe that my time at Hyaltech, being surrounded by so many smart people, has made me more curious, focussed and ambitious. Working on my project taught me to be more independent, reflective and responsible. Carrying out the numerous experiments was not for the purpose of “getting it done”, but the kind where staying late waiting for test results was exciting! I want to project this excitement onto my studies so that I can continue to go the extra mile to make the most of my time at university.
All in all, I am very glad I took part in the CV Competition and want to thank ScotGrad, SDS, and of course my host company Hyaltech for the opportunity of having had such an interesting, stimulating and challenging summer!
Photo: Jonathan Dempsey (Hyaltech), Elena Hindinger, Gordon McGuinness (Skills Development Scotland)