Interview with Mark Petchey, new Treasurer of YEBN

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You are now in the YEBN executive board for the first year. As newly elected treasurer, what are your goals and hopes for YEBN in 2019?

My overall hope is to expand the visibility of YEBN even more and get more people involved. I will aid this goal by managing the administration of YEBN to facilitate the organisation of more events. As I am in the YEBN team, I also hope to get to know the YEBN community and to establish good relationships with YEBN members and partners.

You have already made extensive experiences with different forms of associations. What, in your opinion, makes YEBN special?

As a student I did a number of industrial placements, one of them abroad in Germany. My PhD is industrial CASE funded, so I have realised the importance of collaboration between academia and industry. Throughout my career I realised that it is important to establish these connections early on. I want to help young researchers with this through my work at YEBN. There are a lot of great places in Europe for Biotech, and connecting researchers in Europe can help the industry to grow even more.

What are your long-term visions for YEBN?

As I mentioned before, I would like to help grow the visibility of YEBN even more. I think it is important to focus on students and young researchers. That’s why I am interested in establishing a mentorship programme or expanding our support for finding internships for students.

Sharing our knowledge and contacts within YEBN can help to give equal access opportunities to all of our members.

What are you working on in your job?

My PhD looks into the application of enzymes for the pharmaceutical industry. I am a chemist, but was always interested in the application of biology in chemistry. Biocatalysis is an exciting field for me, as enzymes are highly selective and tunable catalysts, that cannot be replicated in with classical chemical methods.

What is your favourite task in the lab? Is there a task in the lab that you dislike?

I suppose when you carry out experiments to test a theory or idea based on your own research and it actually works out. I don’t enjoy tidying up that much, especially  cleaning out old bottles of buffers.

Please paste a lab humour cartoon in the space below which fits your character the most: [

  • What would your job be if you wouldn’t work in life sciences?

Historian at the Wakefield pencil museum, or a largely unknown singer-songwriter.

What do you do in your free time?

I enjoy reading, especially the books of Christopher Isherwood. I play guitar, badminton and tennis. I’m constantly trying to learn German, with arguable success.

Did you ever lived abroad? Where? How was your experience?

I lived in Frankfurt for a year during my masters in industry. Frankfurt is a very international city, however I also travelled around in Germany a lot to allow me to take in the many aspects of German culture. In the lab, at Bayer, we spoke German which helped me to fully integrate into the team and improve my German. It was a great experience to live abroad as I made new friends and useful contacts for my career.


What are your plans for the future, after finishing you PhD?

I’ve enjoyed the disparate cultures of both academia and industry so far. With a successful PhD I would like to continue in academia, but ultimately I would like to pursue a career in industry.


Would you like to live abroad again and if yes, where and why?

Yes, I would want to live abroad again, if the opportunity arose to live in Germany and work there in industry. But I am also not averse to staying in England.


What is the most important thing you’ve learned until now and that you would give as advice to others?

Try to get as much experience as you can, don’t limit yourself to your particular area. It is always worthwhile and enriching to learn new techniques. If you are interested in something, pursue it. It definitely helped me that I did a number of placements in different areas for which I have now gained a unique skill set. You learn a degree that is often very specific, but you can apply this to many different fields.

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