In Meet Our Expert you will get to meet the talented people behind Cergentis' success on a personal level. In this interview, Mario describes his childhood years in Italy, reveals some of his favorite hobbies and gives a flavor of our work environment!
Can you tell us about your childhood?
Did growing up in such a close-knitted community contribute in some way to your desire to discover new places?
Did anyone in your circle inspire you to travel?
Did you have a clear picture of what you wanted to do after high school?
On a more personal note, one of the kids I grew up with has Duchenne muscular dystrophy (DMD). I saw the development of the disease from the very start. I still remember him playing and running with us before becoming fully paralyzed. This also motivated me to go into research. Having said that, I never had the opportunity to specifically study DMD but went into cancer biology instead. Nonetheless, that was kind of a personal motivation, to try and help others.
Witnessing a close person going through such a life-changing event must have created a sense of urgency when doing research?
You mentioned academic research not moving at a sufficiently rapid pace. Is that the reason you decided not to remain in academia?
How did Glasgow ended up being your next destination?
While looking for fellowships, I came across Marie-Curie, which gives a budget to PhD students to explore their own research ideas. This gives you more freedom to explore a specific research field in the way you want. This was very relevant for me, as I wanted to do something that I could manage myself. I decided to apply for it and my proposal got accepted. The only condition was that this project had to be combined with industrial experience. More specifically, my academic affiliation would be the University of Glasgow but I would be based in the Netherlands within a company.
What a unique experience, to have the opportunity to be exposed to industry while completing a PhD!
The nice thing about this PhD format, was that I was able to get the rigorous methods from academia while also learning how to keep the flow of process going as well as handling customers and deadlines. In fact, I had to juggle between the company’s projects and my main PhD project, which I had to develop myself. It was quite challenging. When people ask me “how do you feel after the PhD?” I always say that I'm a new person now. That I’m reborn [laugh]. But it was worth it because it showed me what I can do and how much I can grow. After my PhD, I wanted to continue in industry because I felt more comfortable there.
You’ve now been with us for over a year now! How do you find the work environment?
Can you explain to our readers what your responsibilities are?
To go into more details, I'm also involved in the statistical analysis part. I try to make our results even more robust and comparable over time. In other words, I’m responsible for making all these pipelines future proof. This is especially important if new tools or methodologies are going to be created in the future. If so, you need to generate a framework that is able to adapt to these novelties.
I'm also more involved in the software development because I'm using Python. Before, I was used to just apply statistical methods with R, so only focusing on data. In sum, I try to expand my knowledge while ensuring that everything is under control and of high quality in terms of software development.
What excites you most about being part of the Cergentis team?
Outside working hours, what are your favorite pastimes?
Besides music, I also like sports. I go quite often to the gym. But during the weekend, I'm kind of a lazy guy and just like to stay at home and do some readings.