In the final years of high school, pupils face their first challenge of adulthood – choosing their professional and personal path. Such is the case of the 11th graders at the high school of mathematics “Baba Tonka” in Ruse, Bulgaria. Although mathematics is a major focus of the school, one class specialises in biology and chemistry. I graduated from this class and it gave me a solid foundation for my higher studies in Biotechnology and the genetics of yeast. Therefore, I decided to share with my successors my professional life choices and introduce them to the field of biotechnology in order to help them expand and clarify their possible career options.
To this end, the school organised a one and half hour lecture that focussed on biotechnology. We discussed the different types of biotechnology – medicinal, industrial, environmental, agricultural, food and marine. I introduced interesting examples of current technological developments and their applications. I also highlighted the great diversity of microorganisms and their great potential in various industrial processes. We as biotechnologists need to explore and understand the possibilities of these microbes and identify the appropriate ones for a specific product or process to help companies to be economically feasible and to meet the requirements of our society. The lecture also paid attention to the role of ethics and law during the development of such processes and the importance of intellectual property rights.
In addition to biotechnology, I shared my PhD project to inspire students with science. I explore the diversity of yeast to identify suitable cell factories that might have potential for beer fermentations with interesting new aroma profiles, so my project is a good example of the important connection between science and industry. I illustrated the phenotypic properties of hybrid yeast used for lager brewing and indicated why brewers want to understand the genetics behind them.
The students were interactive and engaged, asking various questions regarding biotechnology, my PhD project and the universities I studied in. Their interest was not only on the different scientific topics but also on the international environments of the YEASTDOC program and the universities I studied in. Studying abroad and in a different language makes pursuing a degree even tougher but I think that I managed to convince them that they have the required potential to be successful in such environments in the future. I would like to thank the whole class for participating and contributing to the topic and also their biology teacher Mrs Peneva for giving me the opportunity to present. I am really grateful for their appreciation and for their gift. J