Profile: Corinna Hartinger
Corinna is in her third year of a DPhil in Bioscience at Univ. She also works in the Development Office and helps out with the Univ in the Arts Committee. In her profile, she discusses gaining new skills, PhD rejections and the benefits of the college system.
What did you do before coming to Univ?
After finishing school, I did a “voluntary social year” working in a sheltered workshop in my home country, Austria. But I already knew I wanted to go into science, so I went on to get my bachelor’s degree in Biotechnology from the University of Edinburgh. Afterwards, I got a position as a scientific intern at the Institute of Science and Technology Austria, and spent a wonderful year living in Vienna and working on my own plant science research project
What is your role at Univ? What does it involve day to day?
I am a DPhil student but also help the Univ in the Arts committee and the Development Office with organising events, like the virtual book clubs.
My DPhil work entails planning, preparing and executing experiments on plants, like measuring the concentration of certain compounds in their leaves. Since the start of my DPhil, I have learned how to do computational modelling, so I also write code to simulate what might be going on in a plant’s metabolism and how we could improve it.
What are you researching for your DPhil? Was it a natural decision to do one?
I am trying to develop new ways to make our crop plants grow better, by helping them to lose less of the carbon that they fix during the day. That means I’m looking for metabolic processes that we could modify to reduce losses of CO2 or to find new points where additional CO2 could be fixed.
After finishing my undergraduate degree, I was still unsure whether doing a PhD would be the right thing for me. Also, I applied to various PhD programmes in my final year, but all my applications got rejected. The internship at IST Austria helped me to clarify that I enjoy the research process, even if it can be very demanding and requires resilience as some things are just bound to fail on the first attempt. I believe that enthusiasm shone through in my second round of applications, which ultimately brought me to Univ.
Do you have any favourite moments from your time at Univ thus far?
I am a regular at the Sunday socials, where graduate students get together in the MCR to eat some cheese and have a chat. This setting has given rise to many entertaining, wacky, or sometimes even deep discussions.
What do you enjoy most about living/studying/working in Oxford?
I am immensely grateful for the college system, which encourages interactions between people from different disciplines. During my undergraduate years, I was certainly guilty of mingling mostly with other biologists. But now I regularly hear about a range of other topics and feel excited when I am asked to share a bit about my own expertise.
Describe Univ in three words.
Community, curiosity, cheese
Published: 31 January 2022