I am Rafael Carrascosa Marzo, but I rather you call me Rafa. I am currently doing my PhD in Prof. Turberfield’s laboratory in the Department of Physics at the University of Oxford. I would like to talk a bit about myself and how I got here for the sake of this blog entry.
As it may be obvious from my name I come from Spain, although more precisely my hometown is Buñol. To some this might ring a bell as we house the tomato festival (“Tomatina”) every year and it attracts people from all over.
Buñol in the valley and the calm and soothing Tomatina
I spent my early childhood there with my parents and grandparents, but we eventually moved to Valencia when I was around 8. Here, my life would go on in blissful uneventfulness until it was time for me to go to the university. My Alma Mater is the Polytechnic University of Valencia (UPV) were I did a BSc in Biotechnology.
One of the many parks in the main campus
I have fond memories of those years as I met many wonderful people that would in one way or another shape how I would perceive the world and how would I like to take part in it. Originally, I became interested in biotechnology as a career because of a hunch that this relatively new field would be an interesting one; by the end of my formation I coalesced my interests into a subfield that could also be found in many other scientific disciplines, nanotechnology, more specifically nanomedicine.
As a logical follow up to what I had done so far and my interests, I looked for an appropriate MSc and I found it in the, for me back then, the cold and distant north…
The MSc in Nanobiotechnology at the Aalborg University in Denmark was a really nice way for me to, academically speaking, move into a more interdisciplinary approach to nanotechnology, away from biology and into physics; but it was also a way for me to move into the unknown, a welcoming but foreign country, an international community of fellow students, an abundance of house chores to take care of, and so on. I consider myself exceptionally lucky as chance had me stay the duration of my MSc in one of the best and most heart-warming students’ lodging in all Aalborg, the Aalborg Internationale Kollegium (AIK).
Common area at the AIK
In its common kitchen and shared spaces not only did I fully learn how to cook, one of my hobbies along with reading, but I also came across people of a vastly different background from mine. All these conversations, exchanges, and friendships are to date some of my most treasured memories. It also helps that the place was literally 2 minutes by foot from where I took the classes, but I digress.
In the last year of my MSc I was fortunate enough to do my MSc thesis in Prof. Sánchez’s laboratory in the Institute of Bioengineering of Catalonia (IBEC) in Barcelona, Spain. I feel that over the course of my stay and under the watchful guidance of great people in that laboratory I matured as a young researcher and I resolved myself to dedicate my next years to the attainment of a PhD.
During the MSc I had become acquainted with the field of DNA Origami and its interesting possibilities; after finding out about the DNA-Robotics ITN I felt that was my next step. I was accepted in Prof. Turberfield’s laboratory to study the powered linear and rotational motion of our prospective robotic device. So far, it has been an enjoyable challenge and with the help of my group members and fellows from the network I have been able to hack my way through it.
Although it’s not my first time, moving to a different city in another country presents a challenge in and of itself, particularly in Oxford, a city full of idiosyncrasies (e.g. technically I’m doing a DPhil, not a PhD). Regardless, it is with a hopeful and eager disposition that I face the coming years. See you around next time!