Dr Orode Aniejurengho received her doctorate degree from the University of Brighton in 2016. Her research focused on developing new biomaterial-virus combinations for treating catheter-associated urinary tract infections. Orode’s research interest is in biomaterials for application in the fields of tissue regeneration, drug discovery and antimicrobial therapy. In her current position, Orode investigates the structure of tiny synthetic biomaterials to produce more clinically-reflective models for testing new drugs or for growing new cells for transplantation. Catch Orode on her soapbox on the 29th of July in Brighton, where she’ll be talking about ““Using helpful viruses as medicine to fight bacterial infections”
SS: Orode, what is the most fascinating aspect of your research/work?
OA: What I find most fascinating is the versatility of biomaterial molecules. Currently, I focus on the design of these biomaterials to improve the culture of human cells in the drug discovery sector (an essential part of testing new medicines). The research is multidisciplinary as it cuts across biomaterials, 3D bio-printing and tissue engineering. Interestingly the biomaterials also have antimicrobial potential which I studied in depth during my PhD in combination with lytic bacteriophages, these are viruses that are able to kill bacteria. On July 29th, I will focus on a unique biomaterial, known as a dendron, together with bacteriophages, as an alternative medicine that could help fight antibiotic-resistant bacteria. It will showcase an example of combining Chemistry and Microbiology in research.
SS: What, or who, inspired you to get a career in science?
OA: My mother was my first inspiration, being a nurse she always encouraged me in the sciences, we would often browse through some of her textbooks together. Following this my inspiration was further solidified by my microbiology lecturer during my undergraduate degree, she taught the subject with so much enthusiasm I was hooked! From there, my research journey has cut across Microbiology, Chemistry and Biomaterials.
SS: How did you get to your current position?
OA: Having graduated from my PhD in 2016, this is my first post-doctoral role and networking plus my interest in entrepreneurship within science played a big role. I previously applied for a program that trained scientists to become biotech entrepreneurs. However, I gave this up when during one of the application phases, I spoke with my former PhD professor, who happened to have a post-doc opportunity and suggested I consider it. I was quite excited, having weighed the pros and cons of both offers, I decided on my current position as a post-doctoral Research Scientist at Tissue Click Ltd. It is a start-up company founded by my former professor, and I have received ample opportunity to gain both technical and entrepreneurial expertise which I think might be rare in a traditional post-doctoral role.
SS: What attracted you to Soapbox Science in the first place – and why Brighton?
OA: Being a STEM Ambassador with some experience coordinating science clubs for kids, as soon as I saw the advert for Soapbox Science it resonated with my interest in communicating science to a variety of audiences. It is exciting to see people connect with concepts they previously thought would be difficult to understand. I attended the University of Brighton from my undergraduate to PhD level, therefore, I was happy to get my first Soapbox Science experience in a place that has been a second home to me over the years.
SS: Sum up in one word your expectations for the day – Excitement? Fear? Thrill? Anticipation?
OA: ‘Exciti-pation’ a combination of both excitement and anticipation.
SS: If you could change one thing about the scientific culture right now, what would it be?
OA: Discover a way to increase opportunities of more permanent contracts for early-career researchers, with a vision to minimise the insecurity associated with continual fixed-term contracts.
SS: What would be your top recommendation to a female PhD student considering pursuing a career in academia?
OA: Network and think outside the box, often jobs are hidden in places we might not think about. However, when we network with experienced academics and non-academics we increase our ability to find these hidden career opportunities.
SS: What words of encouragement would you give to children who might be interested in a career in science?
OA: A career in science gives you the opportunity to potentially do what you love. Your career can be as diverse and creative as you want it to be and scientists always have a unique opportunity to positively impact the lives of those around us.