At Riffyn, we are proud that our customers see us as scientific partners. That’s because our mission is to help solve their deepest process and data challenges, and to deliver transformative long-term value. That commitment starts with people who care.
In our “Riffyn Spotlights” blog series, we’re giving you the chance to get to know the people of Riffyn that make our mission real. Today, we talk with Scientist Adi Lavy about his past experience as a marine biologist, Riffyn’s culture of hard work toward things that matter, and his latest 3D-printing project. Please note that answers have been edited for clarity.
Q: What is your background — what did you do before joining the Riffyn team?
I got my Bachelor’s degree in marine biology at Ben-Gurion University in Israel. I then did my masters degree studies at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem researching changes in gene expression in mouse models of Duchenne’s muscular dystrophy, trying to find new drug candidates to treat the disease.
After my masters, I went back to marine biology for my PhD at Tel Aviv University and applied my previous bioinformatics experience to study the microbiology of sponges. In my research I tried to find new compounds in sponges that could treat different microbial pathogens such as Candida. I then did my postdoctoral research at UC Berkeley, working with Prof. Jill Banfield and 70 different labs on a project sponsored by the Department of Energy. We were trying to see how climate change affects water quality and availability at high altitude watersheds. Each group studied different aspects of the watershed, and I worked on the microbiology part, using genome-resolved metagenomics.
After that, I got a job in industry as a fermentation scientist, working on process and assay development for Zymergen.
Q: Why did you decide to join Riffyn?
When COVID started, the project I was working on at Zymergen actually got cut off. My boss there told me about Riffyn, he knew [CEO] Tim and [VP of Science] Loren because they had all worked together at another company previously, and he felt Riffyn would be a good fit for me. I was also considering another opportunity at another company in the South Bay, but I really liked and believed in what Riffyn was doing. I thought the company’s idea and the way they approach things was really revolutionary.
Q: Describe Riffyn in three words.
Fun. Rewarding. Efficient.
Q: What personal values do you get to fulfill through your work?
One of my biggest personal values is to work hard, and I see everyone at Riffyn working equally hard. We also do what matters. We believe in that core value, and we don’t work hard for nothing — we do things that we feel matter and that makes a difference not only to our clients but also to ourselves.
Q: What part(s) of Riffyn’s culture do you enjoy the most?
I really appreciate peoples’ openness to criticism, and the fact that I feel safe bringing up my thoughts. I can always bring in whatever suggestions or criticism that I might have and get an honest response.
Q: Walk me through what a work day looks like for you -- “a day in the life of Adi.”
I usually start by replying to emails to customers asking for assistance, and then I switch to internal development work, like new tutorials or any infrastructure related projects. Then I focus on client work, whether that’s building processes or analysis platforms for clients or reworking some processes or other project related stuff. I’ll also spend some time scheduling future meetings and preparing materials for any upcoming client trainings.
Q: What is your biggest success story helping a Riffyn customer?
The first project that I handled the entire implementation part. I was working with two different teams for the customer, and I think they were really happy with the result.
It was a medium level of complexity for me, and I really enjoyed the process of communicating and working with a team.
Q: What is the biggest lesson you’ve learned from your work?
The biggest lesson I’ve learned is that you should always work with people you enjoy working with, at least when you have a choice. People often forget that they have a choice and that they can choose their place of work, and who they would like to collaborate with on different projects. I found that even a boring project could be exciting and interesting if you are working with the right people, and that interesting projects could become very tedious if you work with the wrong people. Bottom line: It’s always the people that make the difference!
Q: What do you enjoy doing in your free time?
I love scuba diving. I did it as part of my PhD but I got my certificate way before that, when I was in 11th grade. Recently I was able to dive in Monterey with a friend. It’s a great sport to do during COVID because you can maintain your distance and you wear a mask. Pre-COVID, I also really enjoyed martial arts. I think my new COVID-era hobby is 3D printing. The latest thing I printed is a cell phone holder that attaches to my kitchen cabinet so I can read my recipes while I cook.
Q: If you could solve one major problem, what would it be and why?
As an Israeli biology researcher I always found it saddening to see that while Israel is booming with high-tech startups, it is not the case for biotech. Moreover, PhD graduates are encouraged to travel abroad to gain postdoctoral experience but once training is over, there are not enough job openings in academia and biotech in Israel, and they find themselves stranded.
While a postdoc at UC Berkeley, I volunteered as a regional manager for the Israeli NGO ScienceAbroad. We helped Israeli scientists get settled abroad when they start their studies, prepare for job interviews in Israel, provided seminars with Israeli professors, and conducted professional meet-ups. We also helped them navigate through the bureaucratic spiderweb once they decided to relocate back to Israel. This cause is still close to my heart and I bring it up whenever I can to support the change we want to make.
If you're interested in joining a dynamic group of people passionate about helping scientists discover more, please visit our Careers page at riffyn.com/careers or send a letter of inquiry to email@example.com
Embriette is an academic-turned science writer with a passion for spreading responsible science. She holds a PhD in microbiome research from Baylor College of Medicine. After a 4-year post-doc, during which she managed the world's largest citizen science research project (the American Gut Project), Embriette became a full-time science writer and research consultant. You can find her work at riffyn.com, synbiobeta.com, and her personal webpage: drhydenotjekyll.com