Who am I?
I am a 19-year-old student from Slovakia reading the first your of Biomedical Sciences at the University of Oxford. Biomedicine is rightly said to be one of the most difficult Oxford programs. To be well prepared for research, we are expected to know more about the processes in the human body than future doctors. Consequently, we share lectures not only with medics but also with biochemistry students. In addition to pharmacology, physiology or genetics, we also learn about neuroscience. In fact, we share a third of our lectures with psychologists. To learn the most about all these interesting scientific areas, we attend tutorials, for which Oxford is famous. During a typical tutorial, one or two students meet with an expert on their subject and have the opportunity to ask them questions. Before each tutorial, we write a 1000 to 2000 word essay about a set topic so that the tutor can assess the depth of our understanding and help us improve.
The high difficulty of my studies does not discourage me. On the contrary, I look forward to every new information and skill I can acquire at Oxford. My motivation is the wish to prepare well for my dream future job. After graduating from Oxford, I plan to get involved in drug research to help sick patients from all over the world.
I appreciate every moment I can spend in Oxford because I know that my studies are not a matter of course at all. Without the generous Slovaks whose donations covered my first-year tuition fees, I could never have enrolled in the course of Biomedical Sciences at Oxford.
Money from my last-year fundraiser can cover half of my second-year tuition fees. However, I will not be able to continue into the second year if I do not manage to get money for the second half of my tuition. I will be very grateful to all people who will decide to support me also this year.
You can read more about how you can help here.
You can find my transparent account here.
Supporters from outside of Slovakia can donate here.
Learn more about me below or read this article published by Hospodárske noviny (in Slovak only).
Research interests and future plans
I have a deep interest in epigenetic* drug discovery and development. It is a relatively novel area of research that has promising implications for patients suffering from severe diseases, such as cancer, diabetes or Alzheimer's. At Oxford, I will get an amazing opportunity to learn about epigenetic of disease from leading authorities in the field. I firmly believe that after my studies, I will be able to work on designing epigenetic chemical probes - small molecules that could form a base of future drugs. In this way, I would be able to help suffering patients from all around the globe.
*Epigenetics examines how external factors (pollution, diet) or internal influences (stress hormones) affect the way cells interact with their DNA. A DNA molecule could be compared to a recipe book, which cells use to produce important proteins (for example hormones or enzymes). Certain chemicals can make these recipes unreadable or, conversely, they may make a cell reads them too often. When genes switch on and off in this way, it can result in illness. For example, some types of cancer may have an epigenetic basis.
I've been passionate about helping people around me since I was a child. That is why I :
- am a volunteer in Mareena- Mareena is an organization that aims to integrate foreigners into Slovak society. You can read more about my cooperation with Mareena in this recommendation.
- have repeatedly participated as a volunteer in the organization of Slovak children's camps.
- have volunteered at a one-week Christian conference in Hungary.
- planned a volunteering experience in Israel (where I could not go because of the current pandemic, but I still hope to go there later).
- participated in a fundraising event organized by the Slovak League for Mental Health.
Science-related experienceI am naturally curious, and I am eager to take on every opportunity to learn something new. For example, I:
- was an intern at The Institute of Molecular Biomedicine at Comenius University in Bratislava, where I participated in the research of plasma-activated water and attended regular lectures and meetings. Find out more about my work here.
- worked for two months in a chemical laboratory, where I performed tests of inorganic materials.
- have taken part in a variety of Olympiads and competitions. For example, in the school year 2017/2018, I placed second in the regional round of the Mathematical Olympiad. In addition, I have awards from the English, Chemical, Biological, and the Slovak Olympiads.
Besides investigating the antimicrobial effects of plasma-activated water, I gained research experience in my current school. I planned, conducted and then wrote reports about experiments, in which I investigated these topics:
- the efficiency of hot-water treatment in boosting germination of beans P. vulgaris
- the relationship between pH of environment and color of anthocyanins (pigments and antioxidants found, for example, in red cabbage)
- the relationship between the structure of xylem in angiosperms and gymnosperms and mechanical properties of their wood (read more in this recommendation)
- the relationship between the height of water in a container and the mass flow rate from an orifice in the bottom of the container
- the effect of framing of decision-problems on decision-making under risk
A balanced lifestyle is important to me. As you can see in my gallery on Google Drive, in my free time I enjoy:
- creative writing
- doing jigsaw puzzles
- reading books
My favourite books include:
- Till we have faces by C.S. Lewis
- Bad Science by Ben Goldacre
- Cure by Jo Marchant
- Veda z časopisu týždeň (in Slovak only) by Martin Mojžiš
- War and peace by L. N. Tolstoy
- Books about observing wildlife by my grandfather Ivan Kňaze (in Slovak only)
Science-related podcasts I recommend:
- Naked scientists - highlights of recent research
- Naked genetics - important genetic news
- Genetics unzipped - podcast made by The Genetic Society
- Nature podcast - presents the latest Nature articles
- Science Friday - discussions about new research
- Science vs. - podcast with a scientific approach to controversial topics
- Oxford sparks - Oxford academics answer intriguing questions
- Happiness lab - learn more about the science of being happy