Victoria Garcia Sakai
24 Jun 2019
- Laura Shafi



Victoria is an neutron instrument scientist studying how molecular dynamics control the properies and fuctions of soft and biological materials.




1.       What is your working environment? (in the lab, in the office – multiple?)

During 'Beam on', mostly in the instrument hall. During 'Beam off', mostly in my office. I often travel for work so I do things on the go.

2.       What types of bioscience work have you done?

For the most part, I have been involved in projects that can be classed as biophysics, trying to relate what happens at the nanoscale to macroscale biological issues. In addition, how we can use it to design systems to improve human life. I work and have worked on fundamentals, such as understanding the behaviour of proteins in both their native state and in different environments, or the role of the constituents of cellular membranes in biological processes and disease. But also on more applied or design projects, such as improving cryopreservation protocols and drug delivery systems, designing less painful probes for diabetic patients, or in recent years, understanding how to design better cancer drugs.

3.       What do you like about working at ISIS?

ISIS is a vibrant and fascinating place to work, for a number of reasons. The variety of science and people that you can be exposed to and learn from, the freedom and opportunities it offers for work, and the fact that it is part of the neutron community, which is a great family environment to belong to.

4.       What does physics bring to your bioscience work? (e.g. why are neutrons good for biology)

Physics is ultimately at the heart of life and can give us insights into how atoms and molecules arrange, interact and move. In this sense, neutrons play a unique role in that quest. Unfortunately, for biology, it seems to me that we have quite some work to do yet, at all spatio-temporal levels, and neutrons and physics can help put together just a few pieces of the huge puzzle.

5.       What's do you like about working on bioscience experiments?

That they are challenging and complex, but ultimately that there is in my mind, a clear reason why I'm doing them.

6.       What inspires you to be a scientist?

As cliché as it may sound, the feeling that I'm doing something for progress and that I'm contributing, even if only a tiny bit, to making the world a better place.

7.       What are your most proud of about yourself or your work?

I always try to do the best I can and contribute when I can. However, this means that I need to learn to say no more often!

8.       Who is your science role model?

I don't really have a single science role model. I of course admire the high-level scientists that have made extremely important discoveries, but in the same way, all others that work very hard and contribute to our scientific knowledge but we never hear about. However, most of all I admire the scientists that I have had the honour of learning from in person.

9.       What global challenges worry you?

The many consequences of the misuse of power and of a less learned society.

10.   Are there any misconceptions about your job? What stereotypes do you want to address?

Hmm… that all scientists wear labcoats, goggles and work in the lab? Is that still what people think? Also, rather than misconceptions, I would say that there is a lack of information of the breadth of jobs that scientists do.

11.   Describe your job in 3 words.

Interesting, challenging, varied.

12.   Do you have any hobbies or passions outside of work?

You've caught me at a time in my life when it's all work and family, with little time for hobbies or passions. However, when I eventually make some 'me' time, I will go back to catching-up with friends, reading and tourism!