PhD student Johanna Yli-Öyrä

I joined the BioColour project after it had started. I had graduated from Kuopio as a liscenced pharmacist several years earlier. When I left university, I said that if there are interesting research projects, I might someday be interested in doing a PhD. I worked in the pharmaceutical industry for a few years, but my job ceased to exist. At the same time Professor Jaana Rysä asked if I would be interested in doing a PhD in the BioColour project. Thus my life in several locations in Southern Finland came to an end and I decided to return to Kuopio in early 2020.

I have been interested in different fields of science for as long as I can remember. At first I started studying biochemistry after high school, and from there I ended up in pharmacy and toxicology. There are no other family members in the same field, but I have always been encouraged to do what interests me. At times, it just leads to strange places. I was not familiar with dyes before joining the  BioColour project.

The best thing about this project is its great potential. What I find both interesting and challenging is that the toxicity of natural dyes in human cells, my part in the project, has not been studied extensively.

In my free time I like to go to different gigs. Fishing and hiking are also important to me. However, I also try to keep a lot of time on my calendar when I don’t have to do anything.

I am in Brazil for a couple of months on a research exchange. We have done research on biocolourants using zebrafish as well as various water fleas and amphipods as models. We aim to identify the levels of (natural) dyes that are harmful. This helps to develop regulation and protect the environment. I will also attend a conference on toxicology here in Brazil and will give a presentation on my research there. In my free time I have studied Portuguese, made friends with local researchers and explored the area. I will also be able to fulfill my long-term dream and go on a guided tour on the Amazon for a few nights.