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Starting career in a biotech start-up - Victoria's journey at Chromologics

How to start a successful career in a biotech start-up? In this blog, Victoria Holm shares her story on how her interest in Chromologics started and what she gained from combining her research at DTU with work for a start-up.

Hi, my name is Victoria, and I am a Research Chemist at Chromologics.

My journey with Chromologics started in November 2022 when I began on my Master's Thesis at DTU in the field of Applied Chemistry. Before starting my thesis, I had a productive meeting with my then-supervisor, Thomas Ostenfeld Larsen, at DTU Bioengineering. We discussed potential projects that aligned with my interests, which span analytical chemistry, biochemistry, and natural product discovery. It was during this meeting that Thomas introduced me to Chromologics, a start-up company he helped fund a few years back, which immediately piqued my interest. I saw the opportunity not only to delve into intriguing chemical and technical challenges but also to experience the real-world applications of things I had thus far only experienced from an academic perspective.

Shortly after connecting with Chromologics co-founder, Anders Ødum and their Research Scientist, Kasper Skov, I commenced work on my thesis, focusing on characterizing compounds produced by a fungus that produces a red-pigmented compound. The thesis proved to be an immensely fascinating, challenging, and diverse experience, exposing me to everything from cultivating fungal spores to analyzing metabolic extracts using mass spectrometry.

While my thesis concluded in May 2023, there were still unfinished tasks related to the projects. Subsequently, I joined Chromologics as a research chemist in June 2023, continuing my learning journey with the company.

How was my experience?

My time at Chromologics has not only broadened my technical skills but also provided me with invaluable insights into the dynamics of a start-up. I have been lucky to receive a lot of support and guidance as both a student and now as an employee, but I also appreciate the increased sense of autonomy that comes with being a part of a smaller company. Contributing to various aspects of the company's operations is a privilege I may not have had in a larger corporate setting, and I find this aspect of my job extremely rewarding. Additionally, my role has allowed me to cultivate professional independence, as we have a smaller team within each respective field. I feel the importance of having to make decisions based on my own experience and having faith in my technical competence. This is a challenging but very rewarding aspect of the job.

What do I do at work?

As a research chemist at Chromologics, my primary responsibilities revolve around purifying and characterizing unknown compounds. This role enables me to leverage the diverse set of skills I acquired during my academic studies, combining techniques from analytical chemistry, synthetic and organic chemistry, and biochemistry, among others. Working at the interface of various fields has been my aspiration, and I am grateful to Chromologics for offering me this opportunity. I am excited about the future and eagerly anticipate further personal and professional growth during my time here.

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