In profile: Kassandra Vezyrgianni, Research Technician

As part of our Staff Profile series, we spoke to Kassandra Vezyrgianni, Research Technician in the Denton Lab. Here she talks about her career so far, and what winning a Department Recognition Award for Environmental Sustainability means to her.

Introduce yourself – who are you and what do you do?

Hi! My name is Kassandra, but most people call me Kass. I’m the research technician at the Denton Lab, helping investigate the crucial role of the lymph node microenvironment to the immune response and the effects of aging on its structure and function.

Tell us about your career so far – when did you join the college, and where were you working/studying before this?

I joined the college back in February 2022, a bit over a year and a half ago, after finishing a year-long MRes course at the University of York. I often joke that I was practically tricked into becoming an immunologist; my MRes was originally on the effects of antibiotic resistant bacteria on innate immunity, but COVID “forced” me to change my focus to pure immunology, and I ended up really enjoying it!

You recently won a DoII Recognition Award. What does this mean to you?

It genuinely means a lot to me to win the DoII Recognition Award for contributing to environmental sustainability. I have been very concerned with environmentalism since I was a child, and I feel very proud and validated that my efforts to reduce our lab’s plastic waste and increase our sustainability were recognised and seem to be making an impact! Together with our lab manager, Dr Kerry Rostron, and the rest of the LEAF initiative team, I hope that we’ll be able to spread those practices to more research groups and make even more progress in the years to come.

What aspect of your role are you most excited about?

The thing I find most exciting about my job is the variety of my day-to-day tasks and research subjects. I have worked on several different projects since I started, frequently adapting, optimising or developing something new from scratch. This not only keeps thing interesting, but I’m also constantly honing my lab skills on many different techniques and learning fascinating new things.

When you are not working, what are your main passions and hobbies?

Even outside of work, I’m still quite nerdy! One of my main passions is researching ancient mythology and religion (particularly Greek, Egyptian, and Mesopotamian). I also enjoy reading a lot of fiction, especially sci-fi, fantasy and historical novels, and I really love music – recently started learning to play electric bass.

And finally – if you were stranded on a desert island but allowed one luxury item, what would it be?

If I could have one luxury item with me on a desert island, I think I’d have to go with my smartphone…I don’t think I’d want to be anywhere on the planet without access to my favourite playlists.