Ukrainian scientist Sergiy Avilov uses the microscopy skills and scientific network he built at EMBL in his current role heading an Imaging Facility
Name: Sergiy Avilov Time at EMBL: 2008-2013 Position when at EMBL: Postdoctoral Fellow Current job title: Head of the Imaging Facility, Max Planck Institute of Immunobiology and Epigenetics, Freiburg
Best way to describe your current work: You could say I’m a ‘firefighter’ who is frequently called to save kittens stuck on trees. But seriously, my job involves helping colleagues to get the most from microscopes and micrographs, by troubleshooting and advising on samples, microscope use, and what to do with micrographs. Ultimately, the work involves satisfying microscope-related needs at the institute even before they are expressed, developing new protocols or establishing existing ones, setting up new devices and software, and teaching colleagues how to use them.
Most rewarding part of your job: One of the most rewarding moments is seeing a protocol (or a microscope part, a script etc.) work as a result of your efforts. Another rewarding aspect is finding a practical way to answer a particular scientific question (e.g. “Is this protein mobile in compartment X?”).
How EMBL prepared you for this career path: Before joining EMBL, I had very few of the skills which I am using now at my current work. At EMBL, I learned advanced light microscopy and image processing techniques which are the main professional skills needed by an Imaging Facility manager. EMBL also helped me establish contacts in the bioimaging community, including leading microscopists and biologists working at EMBL. From my EMBL supervisors – Stephen Cusack and Jan Ellenberg – and senior colleagues, I also learned to plan boldly and to believe things (e.g. experiments, projects) are possible.
What you like to do when you are not at work: I enjoy spending time with my family: hiking, snorkelling, and making sketches.
Best advice for someone starting out in your field: Keep learning. New methods and tools are evolving very quickly; a task which was challenging last year may become a routine process with the tool created last month.
EMBL Alumni form a vibrant, engaged community of former staff, fellows, and scientific visitors worldwide. But out of sight does not mean out of mind. This periodic ‘After EMBL’ web feature spotlights a wide range of EMBL alumni along with their current whereabouts and thoughts.