Meet FEMS Research and Training grantee Zala Kogej
Research and Training Grants are meant to assist early career scientists in pursuing research and training at a European host institution in another country than their own country of residence.
Zala Kogej: National Institute of Biology, Department of Biotechnology and Systems Biology, Slovenia
Host supervisor and host laboratory: Dr Xavier Foissac, Institut national de recherche pour l’agriculture, l’alimentation et l’environnement (INRAE), France
Dates: 4 March to 4 June 2022
FEMS Member Society Membership: Slovenian Microbiological Society
I am an enthusiastic biologist, who loves to combine field and laboratory work. I studied biology and molecular biology at the University of Ljubljana and first had a student job at the National Institute of Biology (NIB). There I learned about the importance of plant health and how many microorganisms threaten our food supply. My master thesis focused on Potato virus Y and Pepino mosaic virus and their relationship in the plants. After viruses, my focus shifted to fungi, and I collaborated on an EFSA project on Citrus black spot disease. After working as a technician in our diagnostic laboratory for 2 years, I decided to start my PhD, this time on phytoplasmas. For me, phytoplasmas are interesting microorganisms that have one of the smallest genomes but can cause severe damage to a wide range of plants.
The INRAE Molli team welcomed me really nicely and were happy to practice English with me. I had my working space for the genomic analyses and Xavier was an amazing mentor that took a lot of time for me. We got through basics of whole genome assembly, did analysis and discussed results. With technicians I adapted to their laboratory and could do lab work by myself. I was a part of scientific meetings and work reports. I will never forget our after lunch coffees with fun quizzes.
I wanted to visit INRAE and the team of Xavier Foissac because they are the best in my field and FEMS Research and Training Grant made it possible. I wanted to make new contacts, learn new methods, and step out of my comfort zone. I succeeded with all of that.
The FEMS Research and Training Grant gave me an opportunity to meet new researchers, get new ideas and push my work to a next level.
How can FEMS continue to contribute to your career and scientific development? What you are doing is perfect, thank you!’’