Meet Our Lab Heroes AwardsTM 2018 Runner-Up: Ettore Ambrosini
We were delighted to announce Ettore Ambrosini as one of our two Lab Heroes AwardsTM 2018 Runners-Up! Ettore graduated with a degree in Psychology in 2009 from the University “G. d’Annunzio” of Chieti and earned his PhD in Neuroimaging in 2013 at the same University. After a postdoctoral position at the University of Chieti, he became a postdoctoral fellow at the Department of Neuroscience, University of Padova, where he currently holds the position of Assistant Professor (RTDb).
Ettore’s research interests include the understanding of the organization and the neural underpinnings of executive functions, the perception of objects and their semantic representation, and the perception and anticipation of others’ goal-directed actions. He is an expert in experimental methodology and data analysis.
We spoke to Ettore about how it felt to be named one of our runners-up, what he feels are the biggest challenges facing life scientists, the advice he’d give to scientists just starting out in their careers, and more.
How did it feel when you found out that so many of your colleagues had nominated you as their Lab Hero?
I was a bit surprised to see that so many of my current and former colleagues nominated me! It was such a joy to read so many detailed and heartfelt comments. I am very honored to have helped them a bit to pursue their careers in research.
How did it feel when you found out you were our Lab Heroes AwardsTM runner-up?
When I heard the great news, I confess, I couldn’t believe I had won! I was going to a lab meeting with my wife, who is also my best collaborator, and she started screaming out of joy (she was the one who proposed my nomination to my lab colleagues). She immediately sent them a message to share the great news and they all started screaming as well. I was even more pleased to see how happy they were about knowing that I was their Lab Hero runner-up, compared to when I read their nominations!
Why do you think it’s so important to champion life science researchers, and what more could be done to show life scientists recognition?
To me, and to many other researchers, this work is all about patience, perseverance, and perspiration. Sometimes it is hard to keep pushing and do what we do. Even if we love it, and even if we know that our work can be very important and have a great impact on everyone’s lives. It is very important to show life scientists recognition (and appreciation too!) to let them know that they are not alone in this journey.
What are you planning on using your Hello Bio vouchers and travel grant for?
A couple of deadlines are approaching for important conferences that I would like to attend, and I still have to decide.
Did you always want to be a scientist when you were younger, and why?
When I was a child a wanted to be an inventor! When I started high school I fell in love with science, but a couple of twists made me decide to study Psychology to become a psychotherapist. At that time I was just fascinated by the complexity of the mind. I was giving up the idea of becoming a scientist, but then I had the opportunity to discover how a great mystery the brain is and the final decision was made: I had to become a neuroscientist! From then on, I have been giving all I have to reach this goal (I still don’t call myself a neuroscientist).
Tell us a bit more about what you’re working on in the lab at the moment...
At the moment I am studying the neural basis of the cognitive control processes. More specifically, I am trying to identify the neural markers explaining our ability to cope with complex situations and solve problems that are related to the specific profiles of activity of our brain, which is a sort of neural fingerprint that defines each of us in our uniqueness.
What does a typical day in the lab look like for you?
I used to spend most of my time working with the computer, mainly to write/read papers and analyze data, which is my strong suit. Every day I also try to carve out time to learn something new, generate new ideas, and explore new projects, which is the most exciting part of my work. Typically, at least every hour or two, I have the pleasure of helping some of my (current or former) collaborators with their projects, which gives me the possibility of learning new things or strengthening my skills and knowledge. During coffee breaks I love to have conversations with my colleagues about our lives: we are a family!
What is it about your field of research that gets you most excited?
What I find most exciting about cognitive neuroscience is that there is still so much to discover and understand about how the brain works.
What do you think are the biggest challenges currently facing life scientists and their work?
One of the biggest challenges we are called to face is to improve the reliability and reproducibility of science. In recent years there is a growing alarm about scientific results which cannot be replicated. This is very important because these “false leads” slow down the progress of science down considerably and cause a waste of time, effort, and resources (which are already quite scarce).
The pressure to publish, especially “groundbreaking” results, as well as the fact that the distribution of resources strongly depends on this, contributes to this problem. But it is our responsibility as scientists to do our best to defend and protect the integrity of science.
What advice would you give to life scientists just starting out in their careers?
Find a topic that stimulates you, but let yourself be excited by other topics too (we are surrounded by many mysteries waiting to be unraveled). Then dig in and start finding interesting unanswered questions, so you can contribute answering them.
Keep studying and read a lot, but always with a skeptic’s mind. Seek help and advice from your colleagues. But the most important thing is to have a real passion for science, so that “doing science” will be something you love doing, rather than work, and there will be nothing else you would rather be doing. This is essential because research requires high perseverance that you can only raise when you are passionate about your work. And when hard times come, let your motivation support you and keep pushing!
Which scientists working today do you most admire, and why?
I deeply admire whoever does this job with passion, especially those who have to face great difficulties due to lack of support and resources, and those who are actively contributing to increasing awareness of the problems I was speaking about above and solving them.
What’s your favourite science quote?
“Impossible only means that you haven’t found the solution yet.” – (Anonymous)
What do you think is the greatest scientific discovery of all time?
I’m going to choose the discovery that disease came from microorganisms that could be killed by heat and disinfectant. It may not be the greatest scientific discovery of all time, but it saved millions of lives!
Thank you so much for speaking to us, Ettore! Congratulations again for being named our Lab Heroes AwardsTM 2018 Runner-Up!
Read the interview with our Lab Heroes AwardsTM 2018 Winner, Dr Enitome Bafor, here.
Read the interview with Ettore’s fellow runner up Elisabeth Paul here.
Additional resources for life scientists
One of the things we’re most passionate about is supporting life scientists with every aspect of life in the lab. Here are some guides and resources that you may find helpful:
- The Life Scientists' Guide to Wellbeing
- The Life Scientists' Guide for New PhD Students
- The Most Common PhD Problems & How to Get Past Them
- View all of our guides
- Apply for a Travel Grant: every month we give away $500 to PhD students and Postdocs so that they can attend a scientific conference. Give it a go - it's really easy to apply.
- Read advice from other scientists - in our Interviews with Scientists' series
- Molarity Calculator: a quick and easy way to calculate the mass, volume or concentration required for making a solution
- Dilution Calculator: an easy way to work out how to dilute stock solutions of known concentrations
- Mini-reviews, Pathway Posters & Product Guides: a set of technical resources to answer your questions on a wide range of topics and to help you get started quickly
- And - when you get to the stage of planning your experiments, don't forget that we offer a range of agonists, antagonists, inhibitors, activators, antibodies and fluorescent tools at up to half the price of other suppliers (check out our price comparison table to see for yourself!). The range includes:
And finally - don't forget to check back in to the Hello Bio Blog - with features from experts, posts on lab support, events, competitions and some fun stuff along the way!