STEMM Profile: Patricia Wolf | Bioinformatician | Microba | Brisbane | QLD

Patricia Wolf [photo: Microba]

“In my experience, multicultural teams are great because everyone has life experiences that enrich a team by working together”

Patricia Wolf is a Bioinformatician with Brisbane’s Microba – world leading gut microbiome analysis company, but she hails from a fair distance across the seas, Chile. Ms Wolf graduated in 2013 as a Biotechnologist from the University of Concepcion, Chile, and then decided to move to Australia to study a Master of Bioinformatics at The University of Queensland.

Ms Wolf decided to go into her current role after working in a wet lab when a storm hit the city and she lost more than half of her thesis through an electricity shutdown. She then had the opportunity to change the approach of her study and chose computational data analysis as her option. She fell in love with Bioinformatics and decided to continue her postgraduate studies in this field.

Prior to working with Microba, Ms Wolf was a Bioinformatician in the core of Genoma Mayor in Chile and then for uBiome – an American microbiome analysis – where she was the lead of bioinformatics production and analytics. She then joined Microba in late 2019 as part of the Bioinformatics team who are the engine room of the company. Her team work on the company’s proprietary analysis platform – Metagenomic Analysis Platform (MAP™), processing samples from gut microbiome analyses and looking for patterns in data that could lead to future diagnostics and therapeutics.

“At Microba, I divide my time between production and research and development,” she said.

“In production, my job is to focus on data analysis and quality control of the DNA sequencing results, but in research and development, I work in the automation and optimisation of our current bioinformatics pipelines.”

Ms Wolf is passionate about her work at Microba, with her big picture goal being to ensure quality of data in a fast, efficient and accurate way. She explains that metagenomics is the most complete analysis available to explore the gut microbiome which generates high volumes of information.

When asked what the most meaningful part of her work is, she says that the impact of work in academia is powerful “but the results are long term.”

“In Microba, every day I feel that my work is improving someone’s life.”

Her advice for aspiring women in STEM is that “everyone can do it!”

Ms Wolf explains that biologists often underestimate their computing abilities and avoid programming. But she says the truth is that the new sequencing technologies are the most informative way to perform research and have pushed the introduction of bioinformatics into labs.

When asked what she has learned throughout her career, she says that the most valuable fact is that “soft skills are more powerful than theoretical knowledge.”

“Being able to work in a team, communicate your ideas and get results done is what really moves a company to generate useful products.”

Ms Wolf says that more women are needed in STEM, and that even though the stigma about women in STEM is disappearing (slowly), having more women and people from different backgrounds will serve to diversify the way that people approach new challenges and face work-related issues.

“In my experience, multicultural teams are great because everyone has life experiences that enrich a team by working together.”

Learn more about Ms Wolf’s work at www.microba.com/blog.

LinkedIn: Patricia Vera Wolf