Meet the EMBL Events Team: Aditya – Course and Conference Office


Our mission is to train scientists. This blog is a platform for us to share updates on our annual programme, tips and tricks for scientists, new e-learning opportunities, and sometimes just something to make you smile.

Meet the EMBL Events Team: Aditya

Aditya Sankar, our Scientific Visitor Programme and Training Lead, joined the team at the beginning of this year.

Although his office is located a short walk away down Helix A and we might not always see him as often as other colleagues who are on the same floor, Aditya is very helpful and approachable and always makes sure to come up to grab a coffee with us or say ‘hello’ in between his meetings. He is always smiling and makes for a great lunch buddy too, with his many interesting hobbies and great travel and food recommendations, as you will find out from the interview with him in a second.

We have also learnt some new things about Aditya from our conversation with him and hope that it will help you get to know him and his work better, as well as get inspired with some excellent film, book, music, podcast, and food recommendations.

Aditya Sankar, Scientific Visitor Programme and Training Lead

At EMBL since:  July 2021 (first as Project Officer in the GB Unit, then moved to EICAT in January 2023)

A little bit about what you do and number of scientific visitors/fellowship offered since you started: Along with Claudia Martin, we have been working hard on several operational changes internal to our office as well as with EMBL scientists to expand the fellowship offerings for external scientific visitors to EMBL for collaborative research and training exchanges.

The CPP fellowships for external PhDs and postdocs have had a revamp with an aim to promote competitive applications for a secondment at EMBL. So far in 2023, we have committed funding to four awardees.

We have launched the new Sabbatical fellowships for external faculty to spend time at EMBL and co-develop new projects and ideas where our first awardees have been identified.

We have also collaborated with EMBL’s infection biology transversal theme and UNESCO to launch pilot fellowships that support secondments at EMBL for early-career African women scientists working in the area. The first of two awardees has already arrived at EMBL-EBI while the second awardee will arrive in Heidelberg by December. So we are excited to enhance scientific exchange with guidance from and collaboration with our scientists.

What’s your favourite place in Heidelberg?

The vegetable/fruit farms behind our apartment along Ladenburger Straße – a walk around the area always relaxes my senses and seeing things grow makes me happy.

What do you like most about your job?

The opportunity to influence in my own small way towards one of EMBL’s primary missions to promote access to cutting-edge scientific training for external scientists. I am also particularly passionate about policy implementation around equitable and effective access to education and science.

My own independent research career began from obscurity at EMBL Rome in 2010 thanks to former group leader Ramesh Pillai (ex EMBL-Grenoble) – when due to lack of capacity he transferred my application to his laboratory for an internship to Donal O’Carroll (ex EMBL-Rome) who then graciously took me in and played a major role in training me and kick-starting my somewhat successful scientific career before I eventually moved back to EMBL in 2021 focusing on science/research management.

Identifying and implementing systematic and continuous improvements in how we promote early career STEM training with a focus on bringing in talents who see being a scientist as a privilege and feel a sense of duty to take any knowledge gained back to their country/ society would be the most rewarding outcome and our mission for the years to come.

If you weren’t a scientist, looking after the Scientific Visitor Programme, what would you be?

I would fancy being a science policy analyst at an international organisation or a governmental agency.

Your favourite book and why?

Mahabharatha by Vyasa – it is one of two (the other being Ramayana) revered great Indian epics. Most Indians are exposed to it throughout life in various forms from comics for kids/young adults to elaborate scriptures and discourses at various stages of adulthood and old age. Each episode is loaded with philosophy, morality, and ethics seen in its characters which bring comfort to the reader accepting the imperfection of being human. For those interested to start, I recommend the three volume comic box set of Mahabharatha by Amar Chitra Katha.

What is your favourite recipe?

Turkish one-pan eggs & peppers (menemen) by BBC Good food. Simple, nutritious, and explodes with flavour and taste. If you are ever in the Sultanahmet area of Istanbul, the small family-run “Ziya Baba Türk Mutfağı Slow food” restaurant makes a mean menemen! It’s so good that on three separate visits to the city, we planned our stay in the area to dine with them at least once a day.

What is your favourite music genre/band?

I enjoy all forms of music to a degree. To mention one, I enjoy an ancient wind instrument from South India called nadhaswaram which produces a rather unique primal sound, unmatched by any other. Here is a sample of how it is used by Oscar-winning music composer A. R. Rahman.

What is your favourite film?

The Last Samurai – taught me a lot about discipline and importantly embracing your cultural identity without giving up on globalisation and mobility in life to learn new things.

What is your favourite podcast?

The Infinite Monkey Cage hosted by Robin Ince and celebrated physicist Brian Cox. I still haven’t found a better equivalent in terms of how to present a discussion of complex science to the public in a manner that’s so highly engaging and downright hilarious at times.

Any upcoming events or projects you are working on that you would like to share?

Collecting the first vegetable harvest from our balcony garden at home while preparing for the second iteration of EMBL’s Sabbatical Visit fellowships and seeing how our inaugural EMBL-UNESCO fellowship awardees from Africa get on with their visit to EMBL.

Find out more about our Scientific Visitor Programme, which enables external scientists and students to benefit from new collaborations, technologies, and state-of-the-art equipment.