I like to start work earlier in the morning and try not to stay at work until the evening, which used to happen a lot. If I have something to write, I usually prefer to stay at home as I find it easier to concentrate there and my cat keeps me company.


Last but not least, we want to introduce our REWIRE Fellow Magdalena Miklaszewska from the Department of Functional and Evolutionary Ecology. Magda’s research project focusses on wax esters which play an important role in the composition of pharmaceuticals and cosmetics. For more information about her daily routine and research read the interview below; you can also learn more about her project here.


Describe your research in one sentence.

Magdalena: My research focuses on developing methods for biotechnological production of industrially-important lipids, specifically wax esters, in algae and plants through metabolic engineering.


Tell us about a normal day in the life of a postdoc. 

Magdalena: My typical day varies based on whether I’m currently focusing on experimental work in the lab or preparing a manuscript for a publication or a grant application. My day at the lab is usually planned several days in advance, as the equipment has to be booked and the experiments consist of a series of steps that have to be completed within a specific timeframe. I like to start work early in the morning and try not to stay at work until the evening, which used to happen a lot. If I have something to write, I prefer to stay at home as I find it easier to concentrate there and my cat keeps me company.


How will society benefit from your research? 

Magdalena: Wax esters, which are the focus of my research, are important components of lubricants, emulsions, cosmetics, and pharmaceuticals. Their large-scale production relies mainly on petroleum-derived feedstocks and generates hazardous waste. To tackle this issue, the lipid science community has been intensively working to develop sustainable and environmentally-friendly methods for the production of wax esters. One of the most promising solutions is genetically engineered non-food oilseed crops that accumulate wax esters in their seeds. However, there is still a need to improve these ‘green factories’ to make them more cost-effective and competitive with currently-used methods of wax ester production. My project will contribute to expanding the knowledge of wax ester metabolism and to developing alternative platforms for biobased wax ester production.


Share a funny/surprising or unexpected anecdote with us from your academic career so far:

Magdalena: At the beginning of my doctoral studies, together with my very good friend from the lab, we went to a conference in Graz, Austria. The organizers made sure to have a tourist information desk at the conference venue, where friendly and helpful staff advised us on what we could to do in our free time. We asked for recommendations on the best pubs and restaurants in the city, and the lady at the desk pointed out several places. She emphasized that we had to try Sturm, which turned out to be a delightful beverage. Since then, it has become one of my favourite drinks, but unfortunately, it's not available in Poland. I had another opportunity to drink Sturm a few years later when I visited Vienna as a tourist. Since the start of my REWIRE fellowship I visit wineries on the outskirts of Vienna every autumn to enjoy Sturm in charming locations.


What does REWIRE mean to you?

Magdalena:In the beginning, the REWIRE programme was all about being able to carry out my own project in an international laboratory without having to dedicate significant amounts of time to teaching or worrying about research funding. Looking back, the most important aspect of REWIRE for me has been meeting a group of exceptional female scientists, who have given me a new perspective on academia, research and my future career in science. I’m sure that the network of REWIRE fellows will continue to support each other long after the programme has ended.


The most important lesson learned so far that you want to share with other future (female) early post docs:

MagdalenaThe most important thing is to believe in yourself, even if some people around you give you the idea that you are not good enough. Don't be afraid to apply for grants or jobs that interest you just because the chances of getting them are low or you don't tick all the boxes. Working in academia can be great but also frustrating, so have a getaway – it could be a hobby or engaging in some non-scientific activities. And don't spend all day in the lab - have time for yourself, family, and friends. 

Quickfire Questions

Keyboard or Pen?


Vanilla or chocolate ice cream?

Salted caramel and strawberry. 

Early bird or night owl?

Very early bird (also at weekends, but that's thanks to my cat).


Interested in reading more about Magdalena's research? Click here.