Unique Scientist: Alexandra Petrache

Want to meet a cool geneticist and filmmaker from Romania? Meet Alexandra Petrache (She/her), a PhD student at University College London in the UK!

What kind of scientist are you?
I am a geneticist and budding neuroscientist interested in inhibitory interneurons and synaptic dysfunction in Alzheimer’s Disease, which I am investigating as part of my PhD research.

What made you want to become a scientist?
I am simply fascinated by the living world ― particularly the human body. I was carrying out (what I thought were) experiments on plants and butterflies when I was little and always wanted to be a scientist (I actually wanted to be Dexter from “Dexter’s lab” or Leonardo da Vinci…). In school, I enjoyed both sciences and humanities, but choosing the scientific path was easy ― I told myself: “If I don’t do science I will always wonder “what if…”“.

“I am an Eastern-European woman doing a PhD in London and that my uniqueness is represented by the sum of my experiences”

Alexandra Petrache

What makes you a #UniqueScientist?
I feel like my story will become increasingly unique ― if I can say so ― as I go down the funnel of a scientific career. For now, my claim would be that I am an Eastern-European woman doing a PhD in London and that my uniqueness is represented by the sum of my experiences ― the people I met, pushing away my artistic side to make increasingly more space for science, moving to a foreign country at 19 without having previously visited that country or lived abroad.

What’s something cool you do outside of work?
I try to do a bunch of things when I have the time. I love sports ― dancing, skateboarding and cycling ― and languages with a passion!

One of the hobbies I try to cultivate is filmmaking, which incorporates two of my passions: storytelling and people. You can check out a trailer of a film I produced last year, “E-Cigarettes and Coffee”, is on YouTube. I have recently written and directed a one-minute short film.. maybe this will be finished by the time you see this!

If you had one wish and could change anything in science, what would it be?
At first I thought that I would want to eliminate the weights that hinder research focus: admin work, bureaucracy, the politics of science. However, on second thoughts, I would like to change the public understanding and interaction with science. I guess that’s two wishes…

“One of the hobbies I try to cultivate is filmmaking, which incorporates two of my passions: storytelling and people.”

Alexandra Petrache

Who has inspired you the most in your journey to where you are now?
As cheesy as it may sound, my parents are my greatest inspiration; I hope I display at least a tenth of their kindness, honesty and fantastic work ethic. From the scientific world, I have been inspired by my current supervisor, Dr. Afia Ali, who is a daily inspiration to me, and by my M.Sci. supervisors, Prof. David Gems and Dr. Marina Ezcurra. Thank you!

One thing I also try to do is to find inner inspiration is to not take anything for granted, to appreciate the little things and to try and echo the positivism and passion of the amazing people I have come across so far.

Let’s end on a high note! What’s something you’ve done this week that you’re proud of?
I went to a wedding, a self-development course, took some nice confocal microscopy images and had toe surgery, all before the weekend!


#WomenInSTEM

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