You can spot Maria and her white headphones walking through the corridors of the Helix building. While listening “la cabaña del podcast”, a programme about comics and movies, she is probably thinking of very small things, smaller than most of the people can imagine. Fortunately, she does not only think of these tiny things, but she sees them.
Maria Arista is doing her PhD at IBEC since January 2017 at the Nanoscopy for Nanomedicine research group. Here, she works with a microscope called STORM, a powerful super-resolution technique that breaks the diffraction limit and enables the study of structures at the nanometric scale. Thanks to this technology, Maria characterizes the structure and protein distribution of a virus called influenza. The reason: Maria wants to understand how the virus behaves when exposed to antivirals.
But things are sometimes not easy in life, or in science. In order to achieve her goals, Maria not only observes the virus, she needs to take many, many images…up to 20.000!
After getting all those images Maria still needs a good eye on them. Just try to imagine it: in order to publish her first paper, she once had to count and measure by hand no less than 1240 influenza filaments!
Maria has passion for science, there is no doubt, but not only this, sometimes her mind and activities also shift to communication and comics. Her biggest achievements since she started her PhD at IBEC are winning the prize for best oral presentation at the CRG symposium in 2018, as well as, the best oral poster presentation at the Virology meeting 2019 from the Catalan Society of Biology.
And when she is not working on her thesis, Maria organizes events in different comic book conventions, she is used to talk with people, and give oral presentations. She also collaborates in a media channel devoted to the manga world where she plans activities and conducts interviews.
Next time you meet Maria walking through the corridors of the Helix building, you will know her mind is probably thinking of science, communication and comics. And about a life in 20.000 frames.
“Did you know that in order to obtain a regular super-resolution image at STORM you have to acquire 20.000 frames?”
“620 filaments counted and measured by hand in my first paper. All of them were quantified by length, width and aspect ratio. I had to do it twice, due to the requirements of the referees.”