Proud sister

Spoiler: there’s also some Italian content in this post!

It comes the time when you have to admit that, despite the age, you’re not the smartest bean in the family, and you become a proud sister.
Look at this young lady on the right:

stef and sara, sister, sibllings, proud sister

She’s my sister Sara, and she’s just made such an accomplishment. But let me take a step back.

What my sister does for a living

Sara works for the Perugia University, she’s a PhD student and will be graduating next year.
She enrolled the uni taking a course that in English sounds like “Cultural Heritage Preservation”.
It was a mix of Art History and technical/chemical studies aimed to preserve and renovate ancient paintings and general artistic masterpieces – or something like that.

After three years of studies in this field, she felt in love with a series of chemical and microbiological techniques that are used also in the painting restorations, so she pivoted to biotechnology.

Biotechnology opened her to a wide spectrum of new stuff to learn. She got excited about many things I don’t understand, so I’m not able to explain to you – sorry!
Long story short, she’d been invited to Exeter, UK, to spend 40 days of research in there, cutting mice brains to find a specific cell or enzyme (I don’t recall in detail, sorry again!) which does something that can help find a cure to Alzheimer’s.
Then she’d been invited to Jena, Germany, to talk about that and other discoveries her team is making in Perugia.

As a PhD graduating, she’s not supposed to be one of the main authors of any papers – she’s a biotechnology padawan, she shouldn’t be able to put together a paper and publish it with the support of the team. That should be quite the opposite in fact – her supporting the team that publishes stuff.
Anyway, she made it – she’s been one of the main authors of a number of papers. Well done, right? But there’s more.

The paper that made my sister famous

Rest assure – and I want to underline this very much – that the following is the result of a collective effort and many months of team researches.
A couple of days ago, an important publication went online. Many press agencies worldwide, included the famous Italian ANSA, have mentioned it by using big titles to emphasise the news.
Here it is: English version and Italian version

I asked my sister to explain to me in plain language what she and her team achieved with this discovery.
In a nutshell, they’re trying to create a sort of ‘artificial brain’ where to grow cells that should behave like neuron cells. Those cells grow well in a specific environment my sister and her team have successfully verified in their studies. They’ve monitored the cells “vitality” by using a badass technique called Raman. This could be a game changer within all the researchers the scientific community is making on many levels.
She then added a number of words and technical wording my simple brain wasn’t able to decode into plain language.

Proud sister having proud moments

You know, if you have siblings you can hear my feelings right now. As a big sister, I’ve always had to give the example to my younger sister, so I feel like the 1% of her success is also due to my endless efforts of keeping the bar as high as possible.

On the other hand, I hope that finally my sister drops her impostor syndrome towards me. As the youngest, she felt like she was always a step behind me.
There have been times, whilst growing up, when she needed my approval for everything, because I was the older sister.

Sometimes I also sense that she fears my judgment in what she does or happens to her. Looking back, I didn’t “approve” her choice to take the academical career and work for the university.
I’m so glad to see life proofs me wrong.

As a proud sister I can’t be more happier to see that my sister is a young successful woman who’s achieving great goals in a field that in Italy often struggles to get funded, and – most importantly – is heavily dominated by men.


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