UCL Department of Biochemical Engineering


Spotlight on... Dr Martina Micheletti

19 April 2016

Questions for ‘Featured Engineer’ profile in a future issue of theWoman Engineer

Where do you live?Docklands – near Canary Wharf

What is your current role and who do you work for?
I’m a Senior Lecturer at UCL, in the small but wonderful department of Biochemical Engineering
How did you get into the job – and what were you doing for work beforehand?
I came to London in 2000 to start my doctoral studies at King’s College, and I had planned to go back to Italy to find a job in the pharmaceutical industry but I really loved doing research and started looking for jobs in London. I was lucky to get an interview as Research Associate in my current department in an exciting multidisciplinary projects working with biologists, chemists and biochemists to design the next generation biocatalysts, after which I definitely decided to look for a job in the Biochemical Engineering field.
What does a typical day involve?
During term time a typical day would start with lecture revision and workshop preparation before teaching, then meetings with my PhD students and discuss their latest results, and finally sorting out my tutees, currently studying abroad, who are looking to get their study plans approved.
What kind of qualities do you need? What specific qualifications do you need?
As an academic I am involved in many projects at the same time, requiring project management skills, creativity, communication skills and logic (a bit of everything then!). We need to be up to date with the latest scientific findings, which is the most interesting thing for me. A career in academia requires a PhD doctorate or equivalent, with the best possible publication record, and in some cases a Research Associate or equivalent post.
What are the best things about your chosen career?
I love the flexibility that this job offers, and the need to be involved in very different things throughout the day. Being surrounded by and working with young people is refreshing and interesting at the same time and I enjoys the responsibility of inspiring and teaching the next generation of engineers and scientists.
Why would you recommend a career in engineering to others?
Engineering is about engaging in problem solving to help others (society, the economy). My research aims at making better medicines in a more affordable way and it is a privilege to contribute to such profound aim. If you are looking for an engaging and dynamic career where you can really make a contribution to improve the world in which we live than engineering might be for you!
And what advice would you give to people who want to move into the industry?
Biochemical Engineering is a relatively new discipline that not many know about despite making the headlines quite often. It requires a passion for engineering and life sciences, especially biochemistry and biology, and an interest in how to translate a scientific discovery into a real product.
Has being a female had any negative or positive aspects in your career path?
Not really, I got used of being in a male dominated environment in the early stages of my career. Currently Biochemical Engineering has a higher than average % of female students in comparison to the national average and I’m passionate about progressing gender equality issues to ensure women are represented in leadership position in my institution.