Favourite Thing: I love it when an experiment works! I work with wheat, so I have to plan my experiments a long time in advance (usually 6-18 months). When your experiment works after that long time, it is very satisfying! #geek
I went to school and university in Germany; I did my PhD at the John Innes Centre in conjunction with the University of East Anglia (UEA) from 2009-2013
German undergraduate degree in Biology (Diplom); PhD from UEA
I was a student helper for 4 years at my old university in Germany (Albert-Ludwigs-Universität, Freiburg im Breisgau), before working as a PhD student and later as a Post-Doctoral scientist at the John Innes Centre.
John Innes Centre (JIC)
Me and my work
I am a plant geneticist and I try to create better varieties of wheat to help feed the growing world population.
I am a Post-Doctoral scientist and my work focuses around the genetics of plants. That means that I am trying to understand how different genes in a plant affect the look and size of a plant (what scientists call a ‘phenotype’).
I do work with the plants myself in the greenhouse and in the field, but I also do a lot of laboratory work and also a lot of work on the computer. This mix of different activities is what I like the most about my work: It is very diverse.
My Typical Day
No day is like the other: That is the best thing about my job :)
Even though my days are very different from each other, there are some things that keep coming up.
Looking at and after my plants in the glasshouse is very important, as I need healthy and happy plants to collect leaf tissue for different experiments or cross two different plants with each other.
In late spring and during summer I will also nip out to take a look at my plants growing in open fields: That can take up quite some time, but it is nice to get out of the laboratory/greenhouse.
I also spend a lot of time in front of my computer, exchanging emails with other scientists worldwide and also performing scientific analyses: This is called bioinformatics.
And of course I also spend time in the laboratory performing experiments, which can be great fun.
What I'd do with the money
I would probably donate the money to a local school for them to buy scientific equipment. Alternatively, I would use the money to organize trips for school students to come to the John Innes Centre: We have a lab designed specifically for school classes where the students can do experiemtns with scientists.
How would you describe yourself in 3 words?
curious & friendly scientist
Who is your favourite singer or band?
I don’t have a favourite band or singer. I like a lot of different music styles, so depending on my mood I listen to Taylor Swift, Muse, The Prodigy, etc…
What's your favourite food?
Lasagne! I could eat it every day.
What is the most fun thing you've done?
Whitewater kayaking: It’s amazing to feel the power of a river and use it to get around and have fun!
What did you want to be after you left school?
I did not really know what I wanted to be, but I liked biology and chemistry in school, so I enrolled for both subjects at university and decided to stick with biology.
Were you ever in trouble at school?
What was your favourite subject at school?
Biology: I loved (and still do!) to watch documentaries on the telly and we often watched some in school too.
What's the best thing you've done as a scientist?
Together with a few other PhD students, I have organized an international conference for 140 PhD students. It was hard work but also very rewarding to organize such a big event.
What or who inspired you to become a scientist?
I was inspired by the scientific community as a whole: There is this bunch of people who devote their lives to make the lives of other people better. They don’t do it for glory or money, but because they care (and to feed their curiosity).
If you weren't a scientist, what would you be?
If you had 3 wishes for yourself what would they be? - be honest!
1. money to pay for all the science experiments I want to do, 2. a lifetime supply of lasagne, 3. enough time to finish playing all my favourite video games
Tell us a joke.
A neutron walks into a bar and asks “How much for a beer?” The bartender says, “For you? No charge.”
some of my lines in the field and me proudly showing them off 🙂
scanning electron microscopy of a leaf surface: Germinating fungal spores caught in the act. Can you spot the stomata?
Taking some gas exchange measurements with our LICOR
Harvesting our experimental plots with our little combine.
Comparing resistant and susceptible wheat varieties in the field.