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For Students

Jānis Zariņš is a doctoral student enrolled in the Medicine doctoral study programme. He received the annual award of Rīga Stradiņš University (RSU) in the category Doctoral Student of the Year. Professor Māra Pilmane, the supervisor of his doctoral thesis, describes Jānis as ‘a determined and inquisitive young researcher, who knows the value of time. He is not afraid of criticism and has been constantly evolving.’

This year there were four nominees for the RSU Annual Award Doctoral Student of the Year.


Photo from Jānis Zariņš’ personal archive

Tell us a bit about yourself. I believe that the most important thing is to set goals, and to then try to achieve even more. To find the best motivation, I always try to do more than I have imagined. ‘There is no victory without a fight.’ – Ansis Cīrulis, 1917, graphic artist and painter. 

What are the three most important things you have achieved so far? The first is my family and the birth of my son. The second is obtaining a certification in plastic surgery. The third – completing a 6-month traineeship at the Plastic Surgery Clinics in Helsinki that allowed me to learn a lot of new and different surgical techniques that I can now use to treat patients in Latvia.

What do you think of your studies at Rīga Stradiņš University? I have a lot of warm memories associated with Rīga Stradiņš University. I have, after all, spent 13 years here. During this time I have met fantastic students and lecturers, and many of them have become close friends during this journey. I would particularly like to mention Kristaps Jurjāns and Kārlis Griķis, with whom we have gotten up to all kinds of mischief! 


Jānis Zariņš after receiving the RSU Annual Award for Doctoral Student of the Year at the Riga Latvian Society House on 6 April 2019. The prize was awarded by Agrita Kiopa, the Vice-Rector for Science.

Which teachers have had an influence on your life? The main teachers in my life have been my parents who have taught me to take life lightly, to be honest, and to love the work you do. I should also say many thanks to my supervisor, Professor Māra Pilmane, for her valuable advice, and for introducing me to the world of science. A special thanks also goes to my colleague Kalvis Pastars, whom I consider to be my teacher in reconstructive surgery, and my colleague Dzintars Ozols who has set an excellent precedent for how to think outside the usual frameworks and how to be creative.

Do you have any life values or cornerstones that you would like to share? Honesty and selflessness, especially to yourself, means a lot to me. Work habits are also important – if you start doing something, it should be completed 100%. Of course this does not always happen, but that should nevertheless be the goal. 

What needs to be done to make the world a better place? People need to learn how to enjoy others’ successes. You have to learn to sacrifice for the benefit of others, because everything good that you do to others, will come back to you. You also have to remember to stop, smile and take the time for a nice conversation with someone in the midst of your daily rush.


Photo from Jānis Zariņš’ personal archive

Where do you see yourself within the development of Latvia? Whatever happens, I will always live and work in Latvia. I’m a patriot. There are a lot of resources and opportunities here, we simply have to be clever about using them. You should create a team, and continue down the road you are on, as well as develop yourself in various spheres and be more creative. The world is evolving every day, so there are things that can still be improved… One of my goals, for example, is to one day perform a face transplant!