1999 – 2008 Hohenstaufen Gymnasium Bad Wimpfen (Germany); 2008 – 2011 Jacobs University Bremen (Germany) Bachelor in biochemistry and cell biology; 2011 – 2013 Karoliska Institutet (Sweden) Master in Biomedicine; 2013 – to date University of York (UK)
B.Sc. in Biochemistry and Cell Biology (2011); M.Sc. in Biomedicine (focus on Infection and Immunology) (2013)
Technical Assistant (Washington State University); Student Assistant (Jacobs University Bremen); Intern (Lever Group, University of Cambridge); Intern (Fredlund group, MTC, Karolinska Institutet)
PhD student at University of York
Favourite thing to do in my job Find out how things work
Me and my computer search for important motifs in viral genomes.
When viruses infect cells, they hijack the host cells’ survival and replication machineries. Once they are done replicating, the offspring materials form into new viruses, which then escape the host cells and infect new cells. Antiviral treatments are trying to disrupt different points in a virus’ life cycle: entry into the host cell, replication or escape. The problem is that viruses mutate, their genetic material changes randomly but when a mutation results in the virus becoming immune to a treatment, it becomes resistant to that drug and this random mutant can replicate freely. Certain parts of the viral genetic material is too important to mutate – a mutation would result in the virus not being able to continue infection. These parts are called conserved. They often serve very important and specific roles, which prevent them from changing even a little, which makes them good targets for future drugs. Before that, however, these conserved regions and their function have to be identified. This is were I come in! Before new viruses can leave the cell, they need to pack up their genetic material and important proteins into their shells (capsids). This involves short motifs in the genetic material that bind to the capsid units and help make the process specific and efficient. My job is to identify these motifs by developing programs on the computer that would recognize recurring motifs in conserved regions.
My Typical Day
Let’s get down to business – to defeat the viruses!
I come to my office, sit down at my supercomputer (that’s how I think of it), check e-mails and programs I let run before I left the previous working day. That’s when every day becomes different. Either, I spend it thinking about my problem and how to best approach it, or I spend it fixing bugs in my programs, or running programs that myself or someone else in my group have already developed to gain some insight into the motifs. There is often coffee involved, pacing in the office trying to think why things don’t work, doodling in the white board.
How would you describe yourself in 3 words?
curious, stubborn, silly
What's the best thing you've done in your career?
I developed my own alignment algorithm. It wasn’t very good but I was so proud of myself being new to the field.
What or who inspired you to follow your career?
I wanted to do something meaningful and I was good at biology and chemistry so research it was!
Were you ever in trouble at school?
If you weren't a scientist, what would you be?
Maybe own a vegan food truck and tour through Europe with my family
Who is your favourite singer or band?
Depends on the mood
What's your favourite food?
What is the most fun thing you've done?
backpacking through China and Japan
If you had 3 wishes for yourself what would they be? - be honest!
1) Enough money not to have to worry 2) More time in the day to do work and spend time with my family 3) fast travel through space to visit family and friends in other countries more often
Tell us a joke.
Help! I’m diene!