Meet Andrea who was born in Venezuela and raised in Spain. She currently works in Germany as a research associate for a biotech company where she works with induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSC) that are then later differentiated into, typically, neuronal cells. In addition to her research, she is also a science communicator and owns a business called The Cool DNA. Keep reading to learn more about Andrea!
What's your name and where are you from?
My name is Andrea, and where I am from is always a little harder to clarify. I am originally from an island called Margarita, in Venezuela. When I was 12, I moved to Madrid, Spain. After a few years, I moved to Gran Canaria, one of the Canary Islands. Then, at 18, I moved to Barcelona to start college. So, I guess the quick answer would be born in Venezuela, raised in Spain.
What do you do currently?
I am currently working as a Research Assistant in a Biotech company in Hamburg, Germany. I work with induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSC) that are then later differentiated into, typically, neuronal cells. They can either be wild type (have no mutations) or have mutations that we would have priorly added, with techniques such as CRISPR/Cas9.
Therefore, I tend to spend most of my days in the lab, hanging out with the cells and looking after them.
Did you always know you would do what you do currently? If not, what did you think you were going to do and what changed?
I always knew I wanted to do something related to life sciences, I just didn’t know what. And that feeling can be very frustrating. When we’re in high school and we need to choose a career path, we really have little clue of where we’re getting ourselves into. I chose biochemistry because I liked biology and chemistry in high school, and because I loved the biochemistry part of biology during my senior year. But I had very little idea of what biochemistry actually is, and what a biochemist does. Nevertheless, I am super glad I made that decision, because regardless of what I end up doing in my professional career, be it inside or outside the lab, I now know that no matter what, I want to always stay in touch with science, and be involved in the field somehow.
How and why did you get into science communication?
It’s a funny story. I’ve always wanted to have a YouTube channel. I love talking, particularly about science, and I also enjoy sharing tips for studying and planning. But even though I am not a shy person, somehow, I was a bit reluctant to put myself out there. However, in April 2020, as I was stuck at home during quarantine, I thought to myself “if not now, when?”. I literally had more time than ever, and I wouldn’t be seeing anybody for the next weeks/month, so I wouldn’t be getting funny looks from anyone IRL.
And that’s how I started. I filmed my first video about my experience studying biochemistry, which to me totally sucks (you know how all youtubers hate their first video), but for some reason it’s my most viewed video to this day.
And the reason I decided to do science communication, my “mission”, if you will, with my channel, is to bring science closer to the common public. I’m that girl at a party that will share interesting science facts out of the blue, and people always love it and want to know more. Even if they are not the type of person that would care much about science. That is my goal with my YouTube channel – to be that friend that tells the common public about genetics and biochemistry in simple terms, so that they too can understand how fascinating life sciences can be.
What overall impact do you want your science communication videos to have?
To make science cooler, and more accessible. There are SO many interesting things about our bodies, our cells, evolution, etc. And many people are not aware, nor do they think about ever being so because they think it’s too complicated. I feel like that’s the common vision many people have on things like biochemistry. I want my videos to make people realize that subjects like biochemistry, biotechnology and genetics are part of our daily lives, and that we all can have access to them.
Tell us about your business the cool DNA
Yay, I love this question. THE COOL DNA is a clothing brand made by scientists, for scientists. Our products are intended to show that it’s possible to show the world you can love science and be fashionable, at the same time.
Why did you start your business?
It all started with me fantasizing about my channel growing and creating merch one day. That made me think that most of the science merch out there (or at least that I’ve seen), I wouldn’t really wear. The designs tend to be just way too much.
And then I thought, why would I need to wait until my channel grows? Why don’t I just start a brand? I then proceeded to do a sort of market research and realized there weren’t really any proper scientific clothing brands out there. So, boom, THE COOL DNA was born.
What was the hardest part about starting your business and what is the hardest part about running your business?
It’s the same answer for both questions: there are so many different steps, and so many different things to do, and as a first-time business owner, it was/is all very new to me. Most of the time I spend more time figuring out how to get something done than actually getting it done. It’s funny because we call it “starting” a business, and it’s just one word, which makes it sound somewhat simple. But trust me, I was (and still am, in a way) super lost. Almost a year after, we are still in the very early stages, however I have learned so much already, and I absolutely love the feeling of sitting down and working on what I get to call my business.
How do you balance everything that you do?
I try to keep the sentence “I have no time” off my vocabulary. It’s not about how much time you have, it’s about how you manage it. So, I would say my number one method to juggle a full-time job, a YouTube channel, a small business, social media, sports, friends and family is to manage my time wisely. Also, something I have been trying to focus more on lately, is to not to be too hard on myself. If one day I don’t get as much done as I intended to, I try to just accept it.
What advice would you give to your younger self?
Not to stress too much, and not to take things too seriously.
Is there anything else you would like to share?
I just want to say I’m so happy science communication is so relevant on social media nowadays. I keep discovering new accounts all the time. There are so many creative, smart, and talented people out there, who not only do science but also decide to dedicate extra time to share what they do with others. That’s something that inspires me and keeps me motivated.
You can connect with Andrea using the links below: