Mateus Patricio, Ensembl Bioinformatician

Mateus Patricio, Bioinformatician

When you work in a group it’s very important to be sociable, as you'll be interacting with people from different countries and cultures. It’s good to be open minded and able to listen and learn, and not just work on your own." Mateus Patricio, Bioinformatician for Ensembl, Vertebrate Annotation team at EMBL-EBI

 

Mateus Patricio, 2016

Q&A with Mateus Patricio

Q: How long have you been working here?

A: For a bit more than three years.

Q: What does your job entail?

A: Mostly my day involves programming. We work with scripting languages like Perl and Python, but also with JavaScript. I’m involved in the development, maintenance and production of a variety of different pipelines, including the inference of phylogenetic trees, homologies and genomic alignments.

Q: What is your professional background?

A: Well, I’m from Brazil, where I did my degree in Computer Engineering. I went on to do a Masters in Bioinformatics in Germany, then worked as a bioinformatician in Spain for a few years before coming to the EBI.

Q: What attracted you to EMBL-EBI?

A: I think it’s an institution that speaks for itself and is very well known in the field. But the main reason was the group itself and, more specifically, the position. I really liked the job description because it showed that I would get to work with phylogenies, something I am really interested in. That’s basically working with 'trees', for example figuring out how you classify genes in such a way that they are expressed in a tree-like representation. That way you can find out how long ago these species diverged and how they evolved. It’s basically a way of representing relationships among groups of organisms.

Q: What do you like about working here?

A:  I like the people I work with. When I applied I liked the look of the project, and when I came for an interview I got a good ‘vibe’ off the place and the people. Everywhere you go people have heard of the EBI, so this job is very good for my CV. The campus is really beautiful, when the weather is nice... but we all know how unpredictable English weather can be!

Q: What challenges do you face in your work?

A: I think the biggest challenges are technical, since I often find myself involved with completely new tasks that require me to be dynamic and learn a whole new set of skills. You arrive here with a set of skills and knowledge, but you will probably leave having learned a lot more. There is a steep learning curve for this job, but it does make it interesting when you have new things to do all the time.

Q: What advice would you give someone who was applying for a similar job?

A: When you work in a group it’s very important to be sociable, as you'll be interacting with people from different countries and cultures. It’s good to be open minded and able to listen and learn, and not just work on your own. For example you could be working on something that one of your colleagues has already worked on and you could gain some important insights from them.

In terms of qualifications, it’s useful to have the technical knowledge, for example a degree in a computing subject, but also it’s important to be flexible and enjoy learning new things. It helps if you learn how to write scientific articles, and if you have experience in bioinformatics or as a programmer. That way you will gain a set of skills that implies logical thought, which are the main skills required for this job. There is a lot of biology involved here - this job is not just programming - so the constant feedback and interaction with geneticists and biologists is part of it all. So if you already have life-science experience or knowledge that would be very useful.