Meet our PhD Fellows
AntiResist PhD Fellows
Our PhD Fellows have each followed a unique route to the Fellowship, and have found new direction through a multi-disciplinary rotation approach.
In the first of our biographies, Sandro Jakonia from Georgia describes his educational background and personal motivations which brought him to the NCCCR AntiResist fellowship, as well as his experience during his rotations.
PhD Fellowship Student Sandro Jakonia
Born: Tbilisi, Georgia
Speaks: English, German, Georgian
Pet Peeve: Messiness
Hobbies: I play guitar and I really like cooking. If I was not a scientist, I would probably try to be a chef.
In three words: Passionate, curious, persistent
Where would you be if you could be anywhere else right now? In a cabin in the mountains, next to a fireplace, sipping some tea :)
Who do you most admire? My wife. She and I are at similar stages of our careers, and I find it very inspiring to watch her succeed in everything she attempts through sheer determination and hard work.
Route to PhD
I studied for a Bachelors in Human Medicine for 4 years at the Tbilisi State Medical University, before moving to Basel where I finished my Bachelors in Biology, and subsequently a Masters in Infection Biology at Dirk Bumann’s lab. Working there reaffirmed my passion for infection biology and helped me realize what my specific interests are and also what kind of scientist I want to become. When I saw the NCCR AntiResist fellowship call go up, there was no doubt in my mind that it was exactly what the next step in my career had to be.
Challenges Along the Way
Studying demanding subjects in a foreign country while also working part-time to support myself was a major challenge. I found that determination and passion for my interests drove me on, as well as a good amount of luck. My genuine interest in the work that I do provided a major motivation.
“One of a Kind” Fellowship Experience
Young infection biologists like me rarely have an opportunity to work closely with scientists from other disciplines and NCCR AntiResist is built around such collaborations. The fact that I can learn not only from the experts in biology but also from engineers, clinicians, chemists and computational scientists make this experience one of a kind. In my first rotation at the Veening Lab (UNIL), I learned a lot about CRISPRi-seq of Staphylococcus aureus (one of the bacteria being researched at NCCR AntiResist) and worked closely with other lab members. It was a very interesting and different experience to my Masters.
On a typical day, I try to get to the lab as early as I can. Generally, I already have the day planned beforehand: experiments that I aim to do, meetings that I have to attend, interesting talks that I wish to listen to. I also thoroughly enjoy speaking with my colleagues and learning about their research.
Being awarded the NCCR AntiResist PhD Fellowship is one of my proudest achievements. I hope to learn as much as I can throughout my doctorate from this amazing group of researchers, and I hope that my work will become a meaningful contribution to the monumental goal of the consortium – finding ways to solve the antibiotic crisis.
Advice to Fellowship applicants
Learn as much as you can throughout your undergraduate studies and use the time during your Masters to formulate what kind of research you want to do in the future. This will help you determine if the Fellowship is the right fit for you. Also, your motivations and goals will be very important during the interviews.
I like a quote from Leonardo da Vinci: “All our knowledge has its origins in our perceptions”.
I think we often misunderstand our findings for objective truths on how nature works. To this day we are revising axioms that were once thought infallible. I am very curious to see which ones will be next.