Dr Violeta Cordón Preciado, Research Technician, Life Sciences 

“I am optimising growth conditions and working out how to maintain and store the different species of cyanobacteria”

I am a molecular biologist and the Research Technician for the newly stablished Molecular Evolution Lab. Our group is studying the origin and evolution of photosynthesis using cyanobacteria as a model system. Cyanobacteria are carbon-fixing oxygen-releasing microorganisms of major ecological impact. They played a significant role in Earth’s history by enabling the rise of oxygen in the atmosphere and the appearance of more complex life. 

My project aims to better understand the dynamics of genome evolution in diverse cyanobacteria. We have planned a long-term evolutionary experiment in which we aim to gather experimental data of the speed and process of their evolution under stable lab conditions. For this, four species of cyanobacteria will be grown under constant light and growth conditions and their genomes analysed using next generation sequencing techniques.  

Currently, I am optimising growth conditions and working out how to maintain and store the different species of cyanobacteria. I am also testing DNA extraction methods. In the first few months I have been involved in setting up the lab from scratch, buying equipment and consumables and looking at safety documentation. It has been challenging getting a new project going in the middle of the pandemic but also stimulating. 

I have had a diverse career journey. I am originally from Spain and obtained my PhD in Molecular Microbiology and Genetics from the University of Salamanca. I then moved to London for my postdoctoral research. After two breaks in my scientific career – one to study and work as a scientific and technical translator and another to raise my family – I had the opportunity to come back to academic research, which I had greatly missed. Working as a research technician I have learnt how to run a lab while still taking part in ground-breaking research. Technicians play a tremendous part in keeping research going, which I believe has been even more evident through the pandemic. 

One of my favourite things outside work is visiting art museums and the Royal Botanic Gardens in Kew, a source of inspiration for my own creative projects. I also love exercising and have recently taken on cycling to work.

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