Amelie Baud, Postdoctoral Research Fellow

Amelie Baud, Postdoctoral Research Fellow

Amelie Baud's research into social genetic effects has shown that healing and anxiety are influenced by the genetics of one’s social partners. She obtained her PhD at the University of Oxford in the groups of Richard Mott and Jonathan Flint and. During her PhD she analysed the genetic basis of complex traits, focusing on direct genetic effect (how your own genes affect your own traits). Amelie joined EMBL-EBI in 2013 as a postdoctoral fellow, and has been an EMBL Interdisciplinary Postdoc (EIPOD) with the Cornelius Gross group at EMBL Rome. She is now a Sir Henry Wellcome fellowship.

Amelie Baud, EMBL-EBI researcher

Q&A with Amelie Baud

“Doing science is made easy at EMBL-EBI. The computational power we have here is amazing and it comes with excellent administrative support.”

Q: What do you do at EMBL-EBI?

A: There are different stages in my work. I usually start by defining a research question, thinking of experimental design and identifying the right data set. The next step is to perform the experiment, analyse the data and finally, write it all up and share my results.

For two years, I was also a postdoc representative, organising social events for other postdocs, because, you know, everyone loves a pub lunch! Apart from the fun stuff, I also worked with the EMBL management to improve the posdoc experience.

Q: What is your professional background?

A: My background is in biology with some maths, but I describe myself as a statistical geneticist. What I do now is an extension of my PhD research, where I focused on direct genetic effects, exploring how our own genes affect our traits. At the moment, I am studying how the genes of our social partners affect our traits.

A couple of years ago, I took part in an EIPOD (EMBL Interdisciplinary Postdoc) with the Cornelius Gross group in Italy, which allowed me to explore other research avenues.

Q: Why did you choose EMBL-EBI?

A: I wanted to work with Oliver Stegle because he is leading the field of mixed models, which is the method I want to use. I had a chance to visit EMBL-EBI and speak to Oliver and we hit it off from the very beginning. I was certainly not disappointed once I joined his team.

Q: What do you enjoy most about working here?

A:  I like the dynamics on campus. There is a good emphasis on work-life balance, which I’ve always thought of as prerequisite for happiness and wellbeing. From flexible working hours and health insurance to an on-site nursery, there are a lots of benefits and opportunities here.

Learning also plays a big part for me. I like that there are daily science talks on campus, and excellent training courses, both technical and to improve soft skills.

Q: What was one of your biggest achievements during your time here?

A: One thing that springs to mind is the press activity I did after publishing my paper on how the genetic makeup of room-mates influences a person’s health. It started off as a real challenge!

I would say I hugely benefited from the media training because it helped me get my thoughts in order about my messages. I had to think about how I would explain my research to my grandmother, so it’s easy to understand by a non-expert audience. After much deliberation I realised that I just didn’t know how to do it. I worked with the EMBL media specialists to clarify my messages and in the end, really enjoyed doing the interviews.

Q: What advice would you give someone considering doing a postdoc here?

A: Meet your group leader before you apply. See how your interests align and if you get along. I can’t stress enough how important it is to have a good relationship with your research group and your colleagues. 

Q: What do you enjoy doing outside work?

A: I love spending time together with my husband and our new baby, having friends at home for dinner or at the week-end, and whenever I can, I like to go horseback riding.

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