조소영 박사 / Cell is not the problem

1. Hello, I am 조소영, a 3rd year doctoral degree researcher.

I am currently 3rd year in my doctoral degree of bio medicine engineering in Germany.

Before moving to Germany, I completed masters degree in England.

There are various subjects in the field of bio science, and mine is about cancer and genetic control through study about DNA and RNA.

2. Research atmosphere of Germany and 9 to 6

The atmosphere and environment of each lab will differ according to a lot of factors, but in my lab we usually come and go around 9am and 6pm. Occasionally when we have a lot to work on, we come to lab in weekends too.

Communication with the professor is held through 1:1 meeting, along with once-a-week group meeting session where we talk about project procession and experimental data.

If there is any difference compared with domestic labs, it is that relationship in lab is horizontal and not vertical. Even the professor is quite friendly, sharing our daily lives. Although this part may differ on your professor’s style.

2-1. I recommend going abroad for your own research.

I don’t have plenty of experience with domestic labs so I do have to be little bit cautious about this, but I think domestic labs are more passive system, where we study theory first in the masters degree and move on to self-controlled experiment in the doctoral degree. Here, there are some similarities, but you can proceed with your own idea and research even when you are an undergraduate student. We talk about our idea freely, and when it is considered a decent subject, you are given the chance to carry it out on your own.

3. Same cell, different results

Quite a lot of variables come up when your experiment is about the cells, and I think many bio-field researchers will agree with this. Ideally speaking, every experiment should be held in the 100% same environment, but this is actually close to impossible.

Cells can react differently to the slightest environmental change such as temperature, humidity, night, day, etc. I experienced this too, when my experimental data held in the first and second year did not match even after tons of experiment. Eventually I had to start all over again with a new hypothesis.

During this time, I felt helpless for quite a long time, since my efforts did not match the outcomes.

4. Cells still don’t favor me

Cells do not favor my expectations even until recently, so my experimental data for the last 1 year cannot be used for my paper, but I’m trying to get used to it since this is an typical issue in the field of bio science.

Some of my colleagues who started out faster than me experienced failure with their projects that they worked on for 3 years – and our doctoral degree is for 4 years!

But in their 4th year, they were able to perform their research in a more precise, better, and quicker manner due to their lessons learned through failures.

Actually most of our papers are published in our last year of doctoral degree, without the previous experimental data.

5. You will be compensated for your efforts.

When I was frustrated with my experiment, the professor told me “I had hard time also with these kinds of research, but I tried hard. Your effort will not abandon you, so don’t be frustrated.”. This sentence was my exit from my frustration.

Prolonged research and experiment will wear you out, but everyone experience it, so don’t let it take over you and move on!

6. Through our failures, we are able to move on.

Not just in bio field but also in any field of science, do not be frustrated just because your experiment doesn’t turn out well.

Through those failures, another start is possible. I too learned a lot through the hard times, and now I am confident that I can overcome any obstacles.

Regardless of what it is, failure is just a process to widen your perspective.


조소영 박사

"Failure is a process that widens your perspective"

About the interviewee

Bristol University, Department of Biochemistry

Imperial College London, Master degree in Molecular Cytology

Jena University, Doctoral degree in Molecular Bio Center