Irina Druzhinina

Titel

Privatdoz. Mag. Dr.

Geburtsjahr und -ort

1974 Moscow, Soviet Union (Russia)

Studium/Studienrichtung

Background education in biology with specialization on mycology (branch of microbiology studying fungi) and ecology

Interviewdatum

10. Februar 2012

Initially together with my colleagues and friends we started to develop methods of DNA-based identification of industrially important fungi, mainly from the genus Trichoderma, in order to study their diversity and evolution. This work resulted in the establishment of the TUCIM - TU collection of industrial microorganisms what is a convenient platform for screening for microbes with biotechnologically relevant properties.  Currently we are working on ecological genomics of filamentous fungi what is an area of science where environmental microbiology crosses with achievements of microbial genomics, evolution and physiology. We believe that this approach will lead us to the better understanding of these microorganisms in their habitat and consequently open the gateways for their domestication.

I was always fascinated by living creatures and in particular by plants. I decided to become a researcher at the age of 12 and since then I never questioned this choice. Probably my parents we those who influenced my current profession as they perceived my wish seriously from the beginning. They supported me when I participated in field expeditions during my school years and then made it possible for me to study biology in the university. 

I do not think that my gender is somehow influencing my profession. This work might be equally well performed by women and men. However I certainly appreciate the programs supporting women in science and industry as they attract public attention to female education in general. What did impress me? When I recently collected personal data for a research application I noticed that the majority of people that are currently on maternity leave in our institute are actually men. My husband also took some months of maternity leave and the same did another father in our department. I guess this trend is beneficial for all partners, such as science, industry and also children. However I have to admit that it might be the specific feature of our university dominated by men.
 

Of course science strongly influences my private life as it actually is my private life. Moreover this is a type of work that one cannot easily fit into the five working days schedule. Usually these are both experiments and data evaluations that continue over weekends making the overall schedule irregular. My solution is rather trivial: my spouse is also a researcher working in the same institution. I have to admit that this is a very common situation as among my friends and colleagues in the university there are several couples having the same profession.
The other aspect of a 'family versus work' interaction is certainly parenting. I have to admit that although we are married for 14 years with my husband; our only child is 4 years old. It is certainly a considerable effort to find a delicate balance between going forward in research and being a dedicated parent. It took me some years to find a moment when I thought I could do both things at the same time. I am not sure whether I would challenge it again. We decided to take the shortest option for the maternity leave and started to give our son to Kindergarten at age of 12 months what was very early. At the moment we find it very convenient to use the TU Kindergarten and we also frequently bring our child to the institute to wait until we finish the work. I sincerely admire the colleagues who have several children and are successful in science.

It is hard to recommend something; everyone has its own way. I used to believe that education and profession provide some protection by making world broader. I hope my child will agree with it.