UBC coordinator: Adrien Melquiond


Adrien is a senior postdoc in the group of Computational Structural Biology, headed by Prof. Alexandre Bonvin. As an insider in the Utrecht Bioinformatics Center, he is the perfect fit to become the coordinator of the focus area Integrative Bioinformatics for Life Sciences and Sustainability.

What sort of work do you do?
As a researcher, I am a computational biologist who enjoys breaking down biological processes at the atomic level. My work consists in modelling the three-dimensional structures of biomolecular interactions and to predict their dynamics, both of which are playing an important role in their functions. I often say that I look beyond the big picture and aim for the big movie because the structure-dynamics relationship truly determines the fate of biomolecules. For this, I use a mixed bag of techniques, ranging from physics-based computer simulation methods to statistical models, and bioinformatics tools to integrate heterogeneous data into the modelling process.
As a coordinator of the UBC, I wear several hats such as operational manager, technical support, teaching, outreach and contact person both at the faculty and university levels within Utrecht University. I aim at serving the interest of our large community of researchers, teachers and students who value bioinformatics as an essential skill in Life Sciences.”

What do you like most about your work?
“Passing on both my knowledge and enthusiasm for bioinformatics to students is something that I really like. Sharing knowledge within our community is one of the three main pillars of the UBC.
I was nurtured on interdisciplinary education where I have never been asked to choose between mathematics, biology, chemistry or physics. This allowed me to develop a creative and adaptive mind that shines through team playing. Giving up on my research line to take up my new function of coordinator is a great opportunity to work on interdisciplinary projects, to engage with scientists from different fields, and use my technical, communicative and interpersonal skills to connect people.”

Can you describe your coming week?
I just finished two introduction courses for Master’s students in Life Sciences. As coordinator, I am now actively providing technical assistance to our teacher community and I take care of grading the final exams of the students.
Another very important task I need to carry out this week is writing progress reports for the European centre of excellence BioExcel. Involved in the scalability and usability work package, I am responsible for the implementation of a new workflow with our in-house molecular docking software HADDOCK. Within the context of BioExcel, I also coordinate a sustainable community centred on integrative modelling.Together with the coordinators of the focus areas Centre for Complex Systems Studies and Applied Data Science, Dr. Qingyi Feng and Dr. Laurence Frank, we initiated a new thematic seminar series about Machine Learning and its applications. This week we must finalize the program until 2019.”

You’re at a party and someone asks you what it’s like to work at Utrecht University. What is your answer?
Utrecht University is a great employer that provides flexibility to its employees and good working conditions. Here I found great mentors that inspired and supported me in my career choices. Moreover, the many actors in the field of Life Sciences based on the Utrecht Science Park offer a thrilling environment for both research and education.”

What are you still looking to do?
Embracing work-life imbalance, enjoy learning and spray it. Recently I realized that balancing does not mean finding an equilibrium, but rather finding the dynamics that can compensate for the lack of equilibrium.