Professionals from the Danube: Irina Matetovici

It’s time to introduce a series of interviews we conducted with valuable people from the Danube. Their impressive life stories maybe… will inspire the young generation, maybe… will promote the Danube volunteering spirit. Read it and think about it… we|you| I love Danube!

#youth #PayItForward #Community


What defines you, Irina?

I was born in Galati, Romania and now I live in Antwerp, Belgium. I am a curios biologist, interested in photography and stitching Romanian motifs to relax.

Were you a volunteer?

I had few years of intense voluntary activities, mostly during my university time. Now I get involved more in short term projects, either of mentoring or just extra hands when needed. One of my dearest projects was about promoting student-centered education in Romanian universities. We had a caravan and we were going from university to university organizing debates and promoting students rights. It was a great experience and beside meeting and making many friends, I am using most of the methods and practices we were promoting with my current students.

How would you describe one day in your professional life?

A day at my working place can be very dynamic, usually is a combination between taking care of my flies and parasites, followed by different experiments in the laboratory or it can be full focus on genomic data analysis. More specific I work as a post-doc at the Institute of Tropical Medicine in Antwerp, with the tsetse fly, the vector for sleeping sickness, a dreadful disease present in Sub-Saharan Africa. I am trying to understand how the tsetse fly immune system is working and potentially identify molecules that could be used in interrupting the transmission of the disease.

What career advice you would give?

My advice to students deciding on their career is to follow their heart and choose a career where excitement is what will bring them there day by day. Not be too afraid of change or taking risks, expand your horizons and stay up to date. And is never too late to start something that you like.

Back to the region now. What way should we follow for a better cooperation in the Danube and Black Sea region?

The Danube on one side and the Black Sea on the other bring together many diverse communities, I believe we all care about our region, and that’s already a mutual interest. Joint projects that tackle our region could improve the interaction and collaboration. Biodiversity preservation and conservation should be constant on your agendas. While few decades ago more than 30 fish species were able to maintain their stocks by natural reproduction in the Danube basin, today we have only two (data from Joint Danube Survey). Moreover, majority of the migratory fish like sturgeons and Danube salmon are heavily endangered or close to extinction, due to habitat loss or over-exploitation (data from Joint Danube Survey). In the end it comes to us to make Danube, blue again.

A final message…

I would like to felicitate Dunare.EDU for the great organization they created. I’ve been following you for some time and I am inspired by your devotement and the positive energy you bring with every project. I wish you many successful projects, activities and collaborations.

Thank you Irina!

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