Hamza Mbareche is an air microbiology expert working at the convergence of microbial occupational exposure, genomics and public health.
An experienced researcher and consultant, he ranks in the top 0.25 percent of air microbiology experts worldwide, according to Expertscape.
Hamza developed his expertise in environmental health as a postdoctoral researcher of airborne microorganisms, genomics and bioinformatics in the Department of Laboratory Medicine and Pathobiology at the University of Toronto.
His postdoctoral research consists of studying indoor and outdoor airborne microorganisms using genomics and bioinformatics. Hamza has mastered a range of topics, including occupational exposure to bioaerosols using molecular methods, airborne viral transmission in a simulated indoor environment, the nasal microbiome, and the detection and sequencing of Orthobunyaviruses from mosquitoes collected in southern Ontario.
He focuses on optimal collaboration and the sharing of knowledge, which is why he has provided his training about bioaerosols and sequencing techonologies to diverse audiences, including undergraduate and graduate students as well as hospital staff in Ontario and Quebec. Hamza also spent three years as a graduate teaching assistant in two microbiology labs at Université Laval.
A frequent author, Hamza has assisted in 32 articles for peer-reviewed scientific publications in the past five years. He currently serves as the vice president of the University of Toronto’s Postdoctoral Association.
Where did the idea for your career come from?
I have been studying and researching bioaerosols for the past eight years, and the recent pandemic of COVID-19 has shown the importance of air quality.
After my expertise had been solicited multiple times to help different companies solve their air quality issues, I thought about creating my own indoor air quality consulting company. I wanted my company to help various industries reach good air quality standards, prioritizing the health of their workers and the public.
What does your typical day look like and how do you make it productive?
My typical day starts with meditation and workout. Then, I go through my emails.
I usually use the morning to do all my creative work: brainstorming ideas, drafting a proposal, writing a paper, and troubleshooting an analysis problem (e.g. a bioinformatic code not working correctly). In the afternoon, I do work that requires less creative attention, like repetitive tasks (e.g. updating a data spreadsheet), scheduling meetings, making phone calls and writing reports.
I end my day by cooking and enjoying time with my loved ones. I love my job, so it’s not hard being productive – I can be as excited about a Friday afternoon as I am about a Monday morning. I am passionate about science and research, and I thrive off being able to make the world a healthier and safer place because of my research.
How do you bring ideas to life?
Very early on my academic journey, I sought to be involved in challenging and confounding projects. This drive forced me to develop skills in efficient brainstorming sessions. One of the essential aspects of getting an idea off the ground is the constructive feedback I receive from people with a different background than me. Constructive criticism is an essential step in shaping my ideas.
Other necessary steps include setting a realistic timeline, developing a step-by-step plan and doing a lot of research to learn from experts in the field.
What’s one trend that excites you?
I am excited about Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning applications in environmental health and patient care. From making discoveries and targeted medicine to disease diagnosis and patient monitoring, AI and ML are helping research enter a new era.
What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive as an entrepreneur?
One habit that makes me more productive as an entrepreneur and in general is starting the day with meditation and then physical activity. It sets my mind straight and puts me in a very focused state.
What advice would you give your younger self?
Go to therapy, start your personal development journey as early as possible, and get yourself a set of turntables and a drum machine.
Tell us something that’s true that almost nobody agrees with you on.
That scientific research is an art form.
As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?
As an entrepreneur and academic, I have daily allocated time to research a topic or get updates on the latest research in my field. It is essential to stay up-to-date with the most recent trends and discoveries.
What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business?
My business is still very new, but if there’s one strategy that has helped me so far, it’s being open to exploring territories I have never explored before. This has allowed me to work on projects like testing the air quality on a tourist train.
What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?
I don’t have a lot of failures because my business is new, but I am sure I will have many. I know I can count on my resilience to overcome them. One failure I can share is having worked with an untrustworthy person who did not fully pay me for my work and disappeared.
In terms of overcoming issues, it’s as I said before; what has always worked for me is resilience. I have faith in my work and people, and I always keep moving forward. I made mistakes in managing finances, but I learned and moved on.
What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?
Something that I have been thinking about for a while is opening a bioaerosols brewery, where everything, from beer and kombucha to food like kefir, cheese, and kimchi, would be fermented using natural microbes found in the air. This concept already exists in beer making – it’s called spontaneous fermentation. I don’t think anyone applied it to other fermented drinks and food, though. This would require a lot of research, of course, but it could be doable. I might bring this idea to life in the future.
What is the best $100 you recently spent? What and why?
I bought a concert ticket to see Burna Boy at an Afro-Beat festival. I love music. Being in a live show is my happy place.
What is one piece of software or a web service that helps you be productive?
I would say Google Docs. I love that I can create, write, review, and collaborate on documents wherever I am – from my laptop or phone, either if I’m stuck in traffic in an Uber or sitting on my front porch enjoying some direct sunlight.
What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?
Can’t Hurt Me by David Goggins. This man inspires me every day. He shares his incredible life story and shows the path anyone can take to overcome anything.
What is your favorite quote?
There are many, but one stuck in my head this past year is by TD Jakes: “Your voice is needed. Don’t drop the mic!”
- Start your day with meditation and physical activity. Meditation might not be for everyone, but just doing mindful breathing before jumping into your cellphone will help you optimize your mental state for the day.
- Go to therapy and heal from past trauma. Therapy is for everyone, no matter your background and upbringing.
- No matter your idea, spend time doing deep research, reading, learning from experts, and asking for feedback from different perspectives than yours.
Steve (Stefan) Junge hails from Germany and helps with the day-to-day publishing of interviews on IdeaMensch. While he and Mario don’t share a favorite soccer club, their enthusiasm to help entrepreneurs is a shared passion.