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Mattia makes the most of opportunities at University of Wolverhampton

28/01/2021
Mattia makes the most of opportunities at University of Wolverhampton

Mattia Parati is a University of Wolverhampton first-class graduate, scholarship recipient, PhD student, consultant and SPEED participant. However, Mattia’s success started from an unexpected position; failing to obtain an International Baccalaureate (IB) qualification.

The 23-year-old student, originally from Milan, Italy, said: “I went to an American school in Milan, and although a lot of support was provided, I was unable to give 100 per cent during my IB exams, and so I failed to obtain a qualification.”

Despite not getting the grades he’d hoped for, Mattia went to Canada to study physical and chemical sciences, however, this wasn’t the right fit for him so he returned to Italy and wondered what to do next.

“My mum works in the pharmaceutical industry,” he said, “with experience in biotechnology and she suggested that I should go to the University of Milan to study some individual short courses on scientific subjects to see what I thought about it.

“I learnt about fermentation biotechnology, loved the concept and knew that I wanted to study it further.”

Following the courses, Mattia retook some IB subjects and obtained his qualification in January 2016. He then applied to a number of universities across Europe, including the University of Wolverhampton. The course at the University of Wolverhampton provided the opportunity to do a placement year which Mattia found very appealing, strongly believing it would help him to learn exactly what he wanted to do.

Mattia was accepted onto BSc (Hons) Biotechnology and started in September 2016.

“I loved it,” he said. “I became a student rep. The support from the lecturers and student support staff was fantastic.

“There was also the opportunity to do a placement through Erasmus+ which I decided to do in the summer of my first year. I went to Spain to work on oil analysis and it was phenomenal.”

During his second year, Mattia flourished even further as his enjoyment for the modules increased even more. Mattia worked with the Careers Team to secure a year-long placement, which he undertook with InnoCore Pharmaceuticals in the Netherlands. Mattia said: “It was an incredible international experience which was very hands on at the cutting edge of technology.”

During his time with the company, Mattia participated on client and research projects where he worked on the creation and development; not only the preparation and testing. “My opinion was important,” Mattia added. “Everyone in the company was well regarded and respected. There was an understanding that the different backgrounds and opinions were valuable and you’re encouraged to bring your ideas to the table.

“Working there allowed me to gain critical practical and theoretical experience on next generation biodegradable drug delivery systems.”

While on placement, Mattia was awarded the Microbiology Society Prize after being nominated by Professor Radecka.

 Mattia’s final year project focused on biopolymers. He said: “I’m very interested in sustainability and the circular economy. Biopolymers are compounds made by the cells of living organisms and act as building blocks in materials such as plastic and provide the added benefit that they are biodegradable.

“The issues presented by plastic, especially single-use plastic, have become a great international concern, therefore the opportunity to work on this project was very appealing.

“We investigated how waste oils from industry could be used to make bioplastic. For the project, we decided to, not only, use one microorganism but rather three and see what happens.

“To create bioplastics, microorganisms need to be in a stressful environment. From my research, I saw that when the three microorganisms were in the same environment, instead of increasing bioplastic production; it actually increased competition. The oil was therefore used by the microorganisms to survive rather than produce precious bioplastics.

“The final year project was incredible. To have an open workplace, working in the laboratories with MSc and PhD students and having all of the opportunities and support from the students, technical staff and supervisors that I wished for. I know I was very privileged to have this opportunity. Friends at other universities across the world have had very different experiences.”

Mattia graduated from the University with a first-class honours degree, with an impressive average of 93 per cent; a far cry from his experiences at high school. Following his success he was selected for a competitive position at the University Science Park which not only provides him with a PhD studentship, but also a full-time paid consultancy job helping industries in the West Midlands develop innovative technologies.

Mattia’s PhD now focuses on optimisation of another biopolymer, Poly-γ-glutamic acid, through use of waste sources (e.g. brewery waste) and its application for replacement of plastics in current commodities. His PhD will cut across a number of disciplines and nations, with collaborations already being established with private and public universities in Scotland, England, America, Poland, and Italy.

At the same time, Mattia is also a participant of the University’s business support programme SPEED. Alongside his partner, Mattia has set-up a mobile catering pizza service after the first national lockdown and expanded into pizza oven design after the favourable uptake by the community. Despite the pandemic the two have maintained good contact with their mentor on the programme, and Mattia describes it as a “singular opportunity”.

On a finishing note, Mattia added: “There are so many opportunities through the University of Wolverhampton, so I really encourage students to make the most of them.

“There is such a flexible, understanding and supportive environment. I would say the University of Wolverhampton is without a doubt the University of Opportunity.”

For more information please contact the Corporate Communications Team.

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