“Always accept an opportunity,” Says Emma Danelius

Interview with #LiNo17 young scientist Emma Danelius

This interview is part of a series of interviews of the “Women in Research” blog that features young female scientists participating in the 67th Lindau Nobel Laureate Meeting, to increase the visibility of women in research (more information for and about women in science by “Women in Research” on Facebook and Twitter). Enjoy the interview with Emma and get inspired.

 

Photo: Courtesy of Emma Danelius

Emma Danelius, 32, from Sweden is a PhD Student at the University of Gothenburg. Her research interests span across the fields of organic chemistry, medicinal chemistry and chemical biology. During her PhD studies she has been involved in projects with different applications but with a main objective of investigating the conformational behaviour and the intramolecular interactions of cyclic peptides and macrocycles.

 

What inspired you to pursue a career in science/chemistry?

Since we started to learn about chemistry and biology in school I was always fascinated by everything that was known to exist but that we could not actually see. I always felt I had to find out more, so what better way than to work in research. I remember when I asked my father scientific questions, he always gave me really diffused answers, probably because he didn’t really know the answer. But then I just couldn’t stop thinking about it. I guess it just continued like this, constantly thinking about this microscopic world and what is going on there.

 

Who are your role models?

I have many role models and can mention a few. First is my grandma; she was a strong woman who always believed in her grandchildren. She was always supporting us to be who we are and achieve what we strive for. My mother has also been important, laying the ground for my approach to the balance of working life and family. She has also always been a tremendous support. When it comes to role models in science, obviously I have to say Marie Curie; I find her story truly fascinating. A famous researcher here in Sweden that inspired me a lot, especially for everything she did for women in science, is Agnes Wold. At our department we also have a fantastic researcher and role model, Kristina Luthman, who has always inspired me as well as supported me. My closest friends are also chemists and they influence and encourage me every day.

 

How did you get to where you are in your career path?

After finishing high school I did not know exactly what I wanted to study, just that it would be in the field of natural science. I took a ground course in chemistry and completely fell in love with it. I did a bachelor in analytical organic chemistry and began a thesis work position at Swedish Medical Products Agency in Uppsala, working with NMR spectroscopy. Subsequently, I enrolled in the master program in organic and medicinal chemistry at the University of Gothenburg. I undertook a thesis work position at Astra Zeneca, working with synthetic organic chemistry. After that I started my PhD at the University of Gothenburg, working with Professor Mate Erdelyi on weak interactions and conformational analysis of peptidomimetics.

I was always fascinated by everything that was known to exist but that we could not actually see.

What is the coolest project you have worked on and why?

It is difficult to single one out given I really enjoyed working on all projects that have crossed my path so far. However, the peptide project that is the basis of my PhD work is the one closest to my heart. I am fascinated by the conformational behaviour and the intramolecular interactions of molecules with biological relevance, which runs nearly every aspect of biology.

 

What’s a time you felt immense pride in yourself/your work?

I would have to say it was the first time I got an article accepted for publication. I remember that was a really good feeling. Also, it is always rewarding when I can present my research at conferences. One time in Germany especially comes to mind when there were over 600 people in the audience. That was a bit scary but I felt proud afterwards.

 

emma_2

 

What is a “day in the life” of Emma like?

I usually drop off my kids at day care in the morning, cycle to work and then spend the day in the lab, by the computer writing or analysing data, or by the spectrometer. Sometimes I also have teaching assignments. Two days a week I pick up the kids from daycare after work, the other days I work a bit later in the evenings. Then I spend the evening at home with the family. If I have time, I might go out for a run after putting the kids to sleep.

 

What are you seeking to accomplish in your career?

I would love to continue working in research. I will finish my PhD in October this year and the next goal is to get a good post doc position.

Always accept an opportunity, say yes instead of no.

What do you like to do when you’re not doing research?

Spend time with my family, travel, read books, see my friends and go to the theater or cinema.

 

What advice do you have for other women interested in science/chemistry?

One thing is to try to always accept an opportunity, say yes instead of no. I think in general that men are a bit better at this. Most important though, is to take care of and support each other. Appreciate and respect sisterhood.

 

emma_1In your opinion, what will be the next great breakthrough in science/chemistry?

Life is about dynamic processes of complex molecules in a three dimensional world. Techniques that can continue to push the sensitivity and resolution limits, like super resolution microscopy or spectroscopy, so that we can get a complete zoom in on these processes.

 

What should be done to increase the number of female scientists and female professors?

This is a complex question and the answer is by no means trivial. When I started the chemistry program there were actually more women than men in the ground courses, so it seems that simply making an effort to interest more young girls in science subjects at an earlier stage is not the solution. Along the way women have dropped out, and at the professor level it is mostly men at our department.

Three things that I thought of that might help are to have anonymous applications, to find ways to support women after they have children, and to try to divide administrative tasks equally.

 

 

 

 

Melania Zauri Wants to Pass On Her Enthusiasm for Science

Interview with #LiNo17 young scientist Melania Zauri

This interview is part of a series of interviews of the “Women in Research” blog that features young female scientists participating in the 67th Lindau Nobel Laureate Meeting, to increase the visibility of women in research (more information for and about women in science by “Women in Research” on Facebook and Twitter). Enjoy the interview with Melania and get inspired.

 

 

Photo/Credit: Courtesy of Melania Zauri

Photo: Courtesy of Melania Zauri

Melania Zauri, 31, from Italy is an EMBO Postdoc at the Center for Molecular Medicine of the Austrian Academy of Sciences. Her research interest lies in metabolic alterations that arise in cancer. A particular focus of her research in the recent years has been towards nucleotide metabolism and cancer. With her research, she is trying to understand if this pathway can be challenged to provide an avenue for cancer treatment.

 

What inspired you to pursue a career in science/chemistry?

I am extremely curious by nature and I have always been motivated to answer the many ‘Why this’ and ‘Why that’ questions which arose in my mind. Very early in my life, when I was teenager, I decided I wanted to have something to do with science. In secondary school I had an extremely good biology teacher who always motivated us to try to understand things and to observe the world surrounding us. She would even take us outside on little walks to explore nature. I think that my interest towards science and later biology was shaped by her influence. My family always let me explore and find my way to the answers I wanted; nothing came really obvious for me. That is what inspired me to pursue a career in research, which is essentially the way to find answers to the challenging questions of our times.

 

Who are your role models?

My role model number one is my mother. Without her energy, enthusiasm and support I would not be where I am now. She successfully managed to have a family and a working life and it will always represent for me the idea that if you want something you can achieve it. In general I am fascinated by people that achieved something by putting a lot of effort in what they have done. It is always very motivating for me to learn that success comes from real efforts and not only by any given luck.

 

How did you get to where you are in your career path?

I am from an Italian town in the mountains in the province of L’Aquila. It is since my university years that I left it and moved to study to the oldest university in the western world: Alma Mater Studiorum of Bologna. My dad came with me when I had to take the admission exam to get in the course in Biotechnologies. Luckily I passed it and I was admitted to this fantastic course. In Bologna I learned the fundamentals of a scientific career and a lot of life tips for a successful endeavor in the life sciences. It was there that I first entered in a laboratory and I enjoyed the successes and frustrations of a researcher. In Bologna the course had a really high reputation thanks to the modern setup established by the president of the course Prof. Masotti. Very brilliant teachers and scientists fueled my passion for molecular biology and biochemistry. I learned to ask questions and how to answer them.

I have always been motivated to answer the many ‘Why this’ and ‘Why that’ questions which arose in my mind.

In my practical development as a scientist, I would name, as of fundamental importance, Dr. Bruno Amati and his team at the European Institute of Oncology in Milan, where I worked on my MSc thesis on the role of Myc in stem cell biology, and Prof. Lingner and the EPFL in Lausanne, where I was admitted for a summer school working on telomeric RNA interacting proteins. Later on, I acquired my independence as a scientist under the supervision of Dr. Kriaucionis at the Ludwig Cancer Research within the Oxford University. My Oxford times were gorgeous scientifically and humanely. In there, I was the first PhD student of my supervisor and I could follow my curiosity driven research step by step trying to find the answer to problems as they appeared to me. It was luckily a successful journey that did not stop my motivation to continue with a scientific career. Oxford was a great time for me since I met a lot of role models and super smart people that I always enjoyed having a chat with. My project started from epigenetic and turned into nucleotide metabolism almost from the beginning. That is where my curiosity has been growing in the recent years and in my postdoctoral career too with a desire to broaden the horizon from single genes and enzymes research into a system biology one.

 

What is the coolest project you have worked on and why?

I would define one of my PhD project the coolest one. It started with the idea of affecting DNA methylation in the cells by administering to them epigenetically modified nucleosides. If this would work then we had a way of reversing a pathway that frequently goes wrong in cancer. However, very early I discovered that this was not the case and later on I found out that cells are not ready to recycle these modified forms of nucleosides. Indeed, they would convert into something damaging for the cell that would lead to their death. This process was only present in certain kind of cancer cells and therefore could be used to achieve cancer specificity. For me this revealed to be a very cool project, since it challenged evolution and I could test hands on how perfect the cellular machinery is in avoiding endangering itself with the incorporation of important epigenetic nucleotides. Indeed epigenetic DNA modifications are inherited through cellular replication and errors in their positioning might be lethal for the cells and the pathways that are related to them.

 

Melania_3

What’s a time you felt immense pride in yourself/your work?

I almost never feel pride in myself. There was one time though where I could not believe in reality. When my PhD supervisor got back the reviewers comments from the journal I was already back home in Italy for Christmas holidays. He sent them to me and I thought: Oh no, that is the end of my holidays…When I opened the email it said that he considered them extremely good and I could stay home and enjoy the rest of my holidays. This was when I realised that I could feel proud of my work.

 
 

Photo: Courtesy of Melania Zauri

 

What is a “day in the life” of Melania like?

My typical wet lab scientist day starts around 8 am at home where I check literature while having breakfast. Around 9 am I get to the laboratory and start my day typically in tissue culture or with experiments I think will take longer time. In my intervals or incubation times I check my emails and if long, I catch up on literature or I schedule meetings with coworkers. In my spare time, something I enjoy doing to share my enthusiasm, is science communication (at the moment I manage the Twitter account of my laboratory!). I usually get out of the laboratory around 6 pm to 7 pm and sometimes keep working on data analysis from home. I prefer to be quiet and relaxed and work from home if I have only computer work to accomplish. I need my cooking time and some friends/family time every day and this usually I manage to get it in the evenings.

 

What are you seeking to accomplish in your career?

In my career I would like to make an impact with my research for people suffering from cancer. This would be for me a life fulfilling achievement. In order to accomplish this, at some point of my career I would like to form a small team of scientists and start investigations into challenging areas of cancer research. I would also appreciate the possibility to do some teaching, as this would allow me to give back to the community what I got from my teachers: enthusiasm for science.

 

Melania_2

What do you like to do when you’re not doing research?

If I am not in the lab my curiosity is oriented towards music and cultural activities. In Vienna I had the opportunity to join the choir of St Augustin, one of the best in town. Additionally, I try to maintain a healthy lifestyle and therefore I enjoy cooking from scratch, sourcing good ingredients for my meals and doing a bit of sport to challenge my body. At the moment I am a bit into running as I would like to qualify to run the New York Marathon at some point in my life.

 

Photo: Courtesy of Melania Zauri

 

What advice do you have for other women interested in science/chemistry?

I would say persistence and a bit of self-confidence are good. I would also stress the fact that a good work-life balance and psychological state help in building confidence and in believing that one is the best supporter of oneself. I would say that in many difficult moments or when women are perceived as disadvantaged, it is best to keep strong and to demonstrate that we do not owe things to other people and we can equally compete with man.

 

In your opinion, what will be the next great breakthrough in science/chemistry?

In cancer research, the next breakthrough will be probably the clinical application of the protein degradation technology. Thanks to this technology any protein that can be specifically targeted by a molecule can be selectively degraded. It offers hope in the targeting of previously thought undruggable genes.

 as long as there is gender discrimination at school or within families, women will believe to be inferior to man

What should be done to increase the number of female scientists and female professors?

I think that this is a cultural problem of education and as long as there is gender discrimination at school or within families, women will believe to be inferior to man. I was lucky to grow up in a family that raised me and my brother very similarly on this aspect, as my mother was convinced that man and woman should be considered equals. In many contexts I see this was not the case for everybody. On the other side, I see that in Austria, for example, very limited experiments in a wet laboratory can be conducted as soon as you declare you are pregnant. This might be disadvantageous for women and there should be compensatory mechanisms in place to make sure that this time is not professionally wasted. Many of these things I believe should be discussed at EU level and unified across research locations in the EU.

When the Stars Align, Your Career Will Shine: Science Careers Panel Preview

I’m back, baby. After two amazing years reporting at the Lindau Nobel Laureate Meetings, I gleefully signed up for my third. But there’s a twist. This year’s focus is on chemistry, and I’m a physics nerd. What’s a gal to do? I did what any sound-minded, giddy geek would do: Jump at the chance to jet to the foremost conference of Nobel Laureates, to become educated by, connect with, and be inspired by the chemistry community, which by no coincidence is also Lindau’s leitmotif. I look forward to an amazing week of lectures, master classes, conversations, and prime networking, with both established and emerging leaders in chemistry. Remember this meeting is being attended by up to 30 Nobels, and more than 400 young scientists from around the world. And, because this is Lindau, there will also be a few Nobles participating as well. Thank you Countess Bettina!

 

Alaina G. Levine with Nobel Laureate Klaus von Klitzing at #LiNo17. Photo/Credit: Courtesy Alaina G. Levine

Alaina G. Levine with Nobel Laureate Klaus von Klitzing at #LiNo16. Photo/Credit: Courtesy of Alaina G. Levine

Like last year, I will be reporting from this true #NerdHeaven throughout the week, blogging, and of course, tweeting up a storm. Follow me @AlainaGLevine and via the hashtag #LiNo17. So stay tuned. Now of course because I am a comedian (and oh so clever), you can totally expect that I will be inundating you with tons of chemistry jokes. It is how we will bond. And if you play your cards right, I might just end up writing in formulae.

But speaking of the language of chemistry, there is nothing formulaic about Lindau. Even though there is a schedule (and it is packed!), there are always surprises to be had. Go around one corner and see Dr. Mario Molina, the Nobel Laureate who discovered the whole in the ozone layer. Take a stroll to the Grill and Chill, and hang with Dr. Bernard L. Feringa and listen as he highlights his talk on the joy of discovery. Or bump into Dr. Klaus von Klitzing, like I did last year on his birthday no less, and watch in amazement as he takes his Nobel Prize medal out of his jacket to show it to you. You might even get a chance to touch it! You can read my story, Lindau: The Day I Got the Nobel Prize, which shares that experience.

I am sure you have studied the agenda for Lindau with the same velocity and ferocity as you approached picking your PhD dissertation topic. So you probably noticed that on Thursday, 29 June at 15.00 hrs there will be a very special panel discussion on Science Careers. But did you notice who is on that panel? Did you see the chemistry celebrities that Lindau lined up to share their experiences? And did you also see that yours truly is moderating the panel? That’s right – I am so excited about this I even brought a suit for the affair.

Now the leaders who will be participating in this panel are Absolute Heroes (oh yes I did) of Chemistry, whose careers span the spectrum of ecosystems. These stars include:

Thomas L. Gianetti, Postdoctoral Associate in Chemistry and Applied Bioscience, ETH Zurich, Switzerland: Dr. Gianetti, an early career scientist, will share his insight and perspective as a young scientist attending Lindau and launching his career.

May Shana’a, Head of Research & Development, Beiersdorf AG, Germany: Dr. Shana’a has more than 26 years of expertise in the management of global R&D organizations of multinational companies. For 20 years she worked in skin care and cosmetics. Most recently she led the global R&D organisation of Ashland Specialty Ingredients (ASI), located in Bridgewater, USA. Before that the Lebanese-born Shana’a assumed international leadership positions in the research departments of Johnson & Johnson and at Unilever in the company locations in Italy, the U.S. and in the UK. She is among the world’s leading innovation experts in skin care. 

Dan Shechtman, 2011 Nobel Laureate in Chemistry and Professor of Materials Science and Engineering, Technion – Israel: Dr. Shechtman, whom I had the pleasure of interviewing last year, is known as the father of entrepreneurship in Israel and has also made it his mission to educate and motivate young kids to go into STEM with his development of a kids science TV show.

Wiltrud Treffenfeldt, Chief Technology Officer Europe, Middle East, Africa & India, Dow Europe GmbH, Switzerland: Dr. Treffenfeldt serves as a Consultant to the German Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF), and is Global Director for Europe, Middle East and Africa at Dow. She serves as a Director for Bioprocess Development of The Dow Chemical Company, USA. She joined Dow Germany as Leader for Corporate Biotechnology R&D in Europe in 2001 and then Dr. Treffenfeldt has been R&D Director for Biopharma since 2004. The main focus of her responsibilities is the development and implementation of strategies in the areas of human and animal health at Dow and Dow AgroSciences with the goal of creating sustainable value within the biotechnology sector.

Sir John E. Walker, Emeritus Director, Medical Research Council, Mitochondrial Biology: Dr. Walker won the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 1997, and as of 2015, he is Emeritus Director and Professor at the MRC Mitochondrial Biology Unit in Cambridge, and a Fellow of Sidney Sussex College, Cambridge.

 

Panel Discussion during the 66th Lindau Nobel Laureate Meeting Picture/Credit: Christian Flemming/Lindau Nobel Laureate Meetings

Panel Discussion during the 66th Lindau Nobel Laureate Meeting Picture/Credit: Christian Flemming/Lindau Nobel Laureate Meetings

 

We plan to delve into many different elements of crafting successful careers in science, including how to handle challenges and failure, what skills are necessary to advance, and how can one stand out in the crowd. We will also have a very frank but organic discussion with the panelists in which they will describe their own jobs and career paths, and the lessons they have learned which have shaped their success. Be prepared to be amazed! You can easily see that this panel will be a fabulous enzyme which will truly catalyze your career! The advice they will give will be so “neat”, I can’t even.

So folks this is just a nanosample of what you can expect at this stellar meeting where the stars shine bright, the science is chill, and the networking is chem-tastic.

I can’t wait to see you in #NerdHeaven!

“My best advice: don’t listen to advice.”

Ada Yonath is an Israeli chemist – an x-ray crystallographer – who spent 20 years studying the ribosome.  Her persistence paid off, in 2000, when, working with other researchers, she successfully mapped the structure of the ribosome, an achievement for which she shared the 2009 Nobel Prize in Chemistry with Venkatraman Ramakrishnan and Thomas A. Steitz.

The ribosome is a complex molecule, consisting of hundreds of thousands of atoms.  It’s actually a molecular machine (which is one of the key topics of this year’s chemistry-themed Lindau Meeting).

Residing in the cytoplasm outside the cell nucleus, the ribosome is a protein factory. It translates the coded message in DNA into individual amino acids and assembles them into proteins, which are involved in almost every function of living organisms.  

In mammals, there are millions of ribosomes in every cell!  Take a moment to absorb that.  Millions.  In each cell.  I have trouble wrapping my mind around that fact.  It indicates something about the scale of things.  As small as an individual cell is, it somehow contains – among other things(!) – millions of ribosomes, steadily producing proteins.  And, again, each ribosome is a complex network of hundreds of thousands of atoms.  Mapping its structure is essential to understanding how it functions.  And this understanding has provided great insight into the function – and design – of antibiotics, which can kill bacteria by interfering with protein synthesis.

I spoke with Ada at the 2016 Lindau Nobel Laureate Meeting – and she is returning this year for her seventh time – because “being able to contribute to young people is one of the miracles that happened to me after I got the Prize.” 

Watch the video below to hear Ada’s advice for young scientists and non-scientists alike. 

Society Needs to Move On from Stereotypical Gender Roles, Says Diana Montes-Grajales

Interview with #LiNo17 young scientist Diana Montes-Grajales

This interview is part of a series of interviews of the “Women in Research” blog that features young female scientists participating in the 67th Lindau Nobel Laureate Meeting, to increase the visibility of women in research (more information for and about women in science by “Women in Research” on Facebook and Twitter). Enjoy the interview with Diana and get inspired.

 

Photo: Courtesy of Diana Montes-Grajales

Photo: Courtesy of Diana Montes-Grajales

Diana Montes-Grajales, 28, from Colombia is a postdoctoral researcher at the Center of Genomics Sciences CCG-UNAM (Mexico). She works in the fields of drug design, evaluation of environmental pollutants and ecological genomics. Currently, she is involved in three main projects: the identification of molecules from the rhizosphere with potential for medical or agrochemical applications; the in silico drug repurposing for dengue and chikungunya treatment; and the evaluation of endocrine disruptors and emerging pollutants targeting breast cancer proteins.

 

What inspired you to pursue a career in science/chemistry?

Curiosity and scientific vocation! When I was at school I had a very inspiring professor of sciences, Ariel Acosta. He taught me the basics of biology and chemistry as a discovery process in the lab. We tested and interpreted the results by ourselves with a guide containing previously learned knowledge. This was more than 15 years ago in a public school in Colombia; I did not have access to computers at that time and my text books were not advanced enough to have all the explanations for all the experiments we conducted in the lab. This definitely sparked my curiosity and forced me to think like a scientist by the age of ten. I have had to decide between science and making more money or having stability so many times, but the answer was always the same: I am a scientist.

 

Who are your role models?

I admire more scientists and artists than I can list here. There is a broad range of people that have done amazing things to help us to live better and to interpret our world. However, I do not have role models because every person is unique, and I think having role models could be in a way frustrating. In addition, the matter of science is the novelty, and if you want to do something that has not been done before, probably imitation is not a good choice. So all that I do is trying to learn from others and my own experiences, put more effort in what I do and work hard to improve my skills.

 

How did you get to where you are in your career path?

My interest in science began in my childhood, inspired by the biology class at my school. I enjoyed so much to start thinking in the capability of small things to make a notable difference in biological systems, such as how the properties of the cell membranes are influenced by its chemical composition, and how the food chain is mainly supported by the photosynthesis reaction of plants and algae, which ultimately lead us to survive.

I have had to decide between science and making more money or having stability so many times, but the answer was always the same: I am a scientist.

My inclination for science increased during high-school, thanks to spectacular experiments in the chemistry laboratory – so many different thoughts on nature and behaviour of matter: the replacement of a metal by another in the reaction of iron and copper sulfate, the formation of a visible solid by the combination of two liquid solutions with the formation of a precipitate and the violent reaction of alkali metals with water were some of the things that impressed me in those days. Chemistry was then the career I wanted to follow and study at university, even though I also liked medicine. This was a difficult decision as many people adviced me to study health sciences, as my first option did not sound so profitable. Anyhow, I applied for chemistry in 2005, and I was accepted to the University of Cartagena (Colombia) with the best score in the admission exam. Studying chemistry was a great and challenging experience. In the first semester, I met Prof. Jesus Olivero-Verbel, the director of the Environmental and Computational Chemistry Group, who later became my mentor during my undergraduate and Ph.D. studies.

I was an outstanding student and I had a lot of international experiences. In 2010, I did a three month internship in the Drug Discovery Platform of the Scientific Park of Barcelona (Spain), under the direction of Prof. Jordi Quintana. There, I worked in the development of molecules against transthyretin amyloidosis. In 2011, I started my Ph.D. in Environmental Toxicology, and three years later I was a PhD. Visitor student for six month at the Department of Chemistry of the University of Cambridge (England), under the direction of Prof. Gonçalo Bernardes. There, I performed the spectroscopic analysis of the in silico predicted protein-ligand pairs of endocrine disruptors and breast cancer proteins using circular dichroism, native mass spectrometry and microscale thermophoresis. I also participated in international collaborations with the GBernardes Lab (England) and Prof. Thomas Sanderson of the INRS (Canada), and I attended several short-term courses related to toxicology and medicinal chemistry in the United States, Brazil, Mexico, Spain, France and England.

 

Photo: Courtesy of Diana Montes-Grajales

Photo: Courtesy of Diana Montes-Grajales

 

When I finished my PhD, I was immediately employed as an assistant professor and young researcher at Universidad Tecnológica de Bolivar (Cartagena-Colombia) in 2016. There, I created an elective for engineering undergraduate students called “green chemistry and sustainable engineering”, which is a research-based course. I also started and lead a group of around 40 undergraduate students, which is getting involved in environmental sciences research. I got a new laboratory of research in bioinformatics and computational chemistry, in which we develop mostly studies in drug design and in silico evaluation of environmental pollutants, and I also proposed a new master program in Bioinformatics. That year, I met Prof. Winston Hide of the Harvard University at an international course and he was surprised with the quality of the research presented by me and my students so he encouraged me to continue my training. He told me something like “If you do not do everything you can do, you will regret it later.”

I was working on protein interactions for a while, and these are actually my favorite molecules. But at some point, I realised that I needed to learn about DNA to comprehend the complex molecular mechanisms involved in some diseases and toxicological effects, as well as to understand cancer, one of my main research interests. Then, I applied for the UNAM postdoctoral program scholarship and I was admitted. So I am currently a postdoctoral fellow at the Center of Genomics Sciences CCG-UNAM (Mexico), and I am learning genomics and molecular biology.

 

What is the coolest project you have worked on and why?

The coolest project was the evaluation of Ruthenium NAC-CORM molecules as agents for the cancer treatment, developed at the University of Cambridge during my PhD. Internship. Cancer is one of the topics that attract my attention the most, and having molecules that release components that both kill the malignant cells and have antioxidant effects is a smart approach.

 I do not have role models because every person is unique

What’s a time you felt immense pride in yourself/your work?

This is a difficult question because I do not use to feel pride in myself or my work. I am very self-critical, so I hardly ever feel satisfied with my performance, which results in a never ending improvement process. Being accepted to participate in the Lindau Nobel Laureate Meeting was a super happy moment for me, because I will have the opportunity to learn from people that have achieved great things in chemistry. Another important moment in my life was when I received my PhD. diploma and the Laureate thesis award, because it meant for me that I was officially a scientist and I was doing it well.

 

What is a “day in the life” of Diana like?

I wake up around 6 am, I prepare and have breakfast at home, read a little bit and water my Bougainvillea flowers in the garden. Then I go to the lab around 9 am, I check my to-do’s and start working to get them done. Once I finish my experiments – every day is different-, I go to the gym to do Zumba, normally around 7:00 pm and after that I go home, then I continue working a little bit more on my computer, and sometimes in the lab. I love learning new techniques, so when I have a little extra time, I ask others to teach me something about their work and I help them with their experiments.

 

Photo: Courtesy of Diana Montes-Grajales

Photo: Courtesy of Diana Montes-Grajales

 

What are you seeking to accomplish in your career?

I want to do something meaningful that helps to improve the quality of life for the next generation.

 

What do you like to do when you’re not doing research?

I love to experience the world through travel and art.

 

What advice do you have for other women interested in science/chemistry?

Forget gender and trust yourself!

  I want to do something meaningful that helps to improve the quality of life for the next generation.

In your opinion, what will be the next great breakthrough in science/chemistry?

The discovery of new antibiotics to attack multidrug resistant bacteria or an effective treatment against cancer!

 

What should be done to increase the number of female scientists and female professors?

Society needs to forget gender roles and stereotypes. We need to change our way of thinking and understand that we moved forward to a modern life and the way we do things now is very different to how things were done before. So, we need great minds of both genders and good education to form humans with critical thinking, and not girls and boys. This is of course not an easy task, because we still live in an unequal society and changing the culture is hard. Some strategies that could be implemented may include the government monitoring salaries and regulation the proportion of inclusion of women in companies and universities, as well as promoting education programs based on equality.

Welcome to the Lindau Alumni Network

After months of planning and preparation, we’re excited to announce the launch of the Lindau Alumni Network! The Lindau Alumni Network is the exclusive online community for alumni of the Lindau Nobel Laureates Meetings. A digital space to keep the “Lindau Spirit” alive!

Credit: Christian Flemming/Lindau Nobel Laureate Meetings

Picture/Credit: Lindau Nobel Laureate Meetings

Log In for #LiNo17 Young Scientists

Young scientists attending the 67th Lindau Nobel Laureates Meeting are the first group of alumni to get access to the online community. #LiNo17 young scientists can log in to the Lindau Alumni Network with the username and password for the online profile used throughout the application process (‘NAPERS’). In order to foster online interaction prior to this year’s meeting, access to the Lindau Alumni Network is already open. All other alumni will be contacted as soon as their access is cleared, too.

Here are the features that wait for you in the Lindau Alumni Network:

  • Search the alumni directory for fellow scientists: Using advanced search operators including name, home institution, home country, alma mater, work group, year of the attended meeting and more. As the Lindau Alumni Network grows, so will the search directory.
  • Expand the personal profile: A personal profile page is created for every alumnus or alumna based on their submitted data from the application process. Every Lindau Alumni Network user has control over the information that is shared, and can add details on, e.g., research interests or personal background. More detailed profiles make it easier for fellow alumni to find one another.
  • Exchange ideas: The Lindau Alumni Network offers a number of ways to exchange ideas, plans and anecdotes with others. The “Activity” stream offers a timeline similar to that of popular social networks, with options to easily share interesting links, fascinating videos and evocative images. The “Docs” feature creates a forum for more detailed discussion by giving the members of the Lindau Alumni Network the option to create or upload longer documents like whitepapers.
  • Organise with other alumni: Users can create or join groups and this way organise with fellow alumni around shared interests and experiences. Groups administered by the alumni and communications team are a unique way to stay up-to-date with all things revolving around the Lindau Meetings.
  • Find alumni events: The Lindau Alumni Network is the place to find announcements and invitations for local and global Lindau Nobel Laureate Meetings alumni events.    
  • Peruse the job board: The Lindau Alumni Network includes a job board that will be updated with select, high quality job offers. The job board offers a space to find qualified, skilled employees and partners who are already part of a select group: The Lindau Alumni.
Picture/Credit: Lindau Nobel Laureate Meetings

Picture/Credit: Lindau Nobel Laureate Meetings

Users can find more detailed information on how to use these features within the Lindau Alumni Network. For any questions or suggestions regarding the Lindau Alumni Network and other alumni activities, please contact Christoph Schumacher, the Alumni and Community Manager.

 

>>Log-in to the Lindau Alumni Network Here

 

Spotlight on Women in Research at #LiNo17

Many talented female researchers are among the young scientists of #LiNo17. In this interview series, they answer questions about their career path, their passion for science, their struggles and successes and give advice to other women in research.

Get inspired by Karen from Belgium, Jana from Lebanon, Katherine from the UK, Sheela from Malaysia, Shiran from IsraelThao from the US and VietnamFlorencia from ArgentinaMarian Nkansah from GhanaAnna Eibel from AustriaJulietta from ArmeniaHlamulo from South AfricaHira from PakistanAndrea from the USMonika Patel from IndiaAndreia from Portugal and Melania from Italy, and watch this space for more interviews with #LiNo17 female young scientsist in the next few days!

These interviews are part of a series of the “Women in Research” blog that features young female scientists, to increase the visibility of women in research (more information for and about women in science by “Women in Research” on Facebook and Twitter).

 

 

 

More Female Students Does Not Automatically Mean More Female Academics, Says Andreia de Almeida

Interview with #LiNo17 young scientist Andreia de Almeida

This interview is part of a series of interviews of the “Women in Research” blog that features young female scientists participating in the 67th Lindau Nobel Laureate Meeting, to increase the visibility of women in research (more information for and about women in science by “Women in Research” on Facebook and Twitter). Enjoy the interview with Andreia and get inspired.

 

Andreia_4Andreia de Almeida, 31, from Portugal is a Postdoctoral Research Associate at the School of Chemistry (Cardiff University). Her research focuses on understanding the role of aquaporins in health and disease, especially cancer. For this, they use gold compounds designed by the group that are selective and potent inhibitors for these proteins. Additionally, she works in testing new metal-based drugs as anticancer agents.

 

What inspired you to pursue a career in science/chemistry?

I was always a very curious kid and, of course, I also had the traditional microscope that all the scientists had in their childhood. But I have to say that I didn’t always know that this was my passion. I was, and still am, very passionate about all types of arts, especially things that I can make with my own hands. With time, I realised that I liked arts, but mostly as a hobby. I couldn’t picture myself doing it as a career. I then chose a science path for my high school studies and applied for Pharmaceutical Sciences, Biochemistry and Chemistry. I got into Biochemistry and from then on my love for science truly started.

 

Photo: Courtesy of Andreia De Almeida

 

Who are your role models?

All my role models are women and men I met throughout my life. First of all, my mother, who is a very strong and independent woman. She raised me to become empowered and successful and to never feel less than anyone else, regardless of gender. Growing up watching her managing her own business, full time, while raising two children (after we lost our father, on her own) was definitely inspiring and showed me that we are capable of great things.

Secondly, I studied in a chemistry department that has more female scientists than males (for professors the ratio is about 50:50). The thought that this field could be male-driven never even crossed my mind. I also always worked with female bosses in groups with few men. I think that working in a female environment and with such strong and successful female models as supervisors always helped me to feel confident in my work and in myself. So I can say that all the females who I have worked with up to now contributed a lot to how I perceive science.

one breakthrough that I hope comes soon is a new cancer treatment 

How did you get to where you are in your career path?

As I mentioned before, I did my BSc in Biochemistry and then I did my MSc in Structural and Functional Biochemistry in the same faculty. Moving from one to the other was the easiest choice, as they were organised by the same professors, and the MSc was an extension of what we learned in the bachelor course. When I was finishing my master thesis, I met my current supervisor, who was doing a research stay in our lab at that time. She had a position for a PhD student in the Netherlands opening a few months later. That was a big challenge for me: leaving my boyfriend, family, friends and my home country to move to a new country with a different culture, where I didn’t know anyone. It ended up being a great four years. Since then I am working at the School of Chemistry, Cardiff University, as a Post-Doctoral Researcher, which again took our little family to a new adventure and a new country!

 

Photo: Courtesy of Andreia de Almeida

Photo: Courtesy of Andreia de Almeida

 

What is the coolest project you have worked on and why?

I have to say that the coolest topic I have ever worked on is related to aquaporins. The field is fairly new (a couple of decades) and there is so much to learn and discover that there are always new challenges and new ideas! I am actually really excited to have the opportunity to meet Prof. Peter Agre, who was awarded the Nobel Prize for discovering these little proteins, at the Lindau Nobel Laureate Meeting.

 The thought that this field could be male-driven never even crossed my mind.

Photo: Courtesy of Andreia de Almeida

Photo: Courtesy of Andreia de Almeida

 

What’s a time you felt immense pride in yourself/your work?

I think that the time I felt the most proud of myself was the day of my PhD defence. In Groningen, the defense is a public event, very formal, that takes place in an amazing room. After the defense, everyone celebrates and the colleagues of the PhD student prepare a video, illustrating their life during those four years. Having my family there with me, witnessing that day, was one of the best feelings ever.

 

What is a “day in the life” of Andreia like?

This is one of the most complicated questions! My days are never the same, and I think this is why I love what I do so much. One day, I can be working in the lab in the morning, doing different types of experiments, mostly with cells, and then doing some computational work in the afternoon. Some days, I just stay in front of my computer preparing some orders, writing publications or grant applications and correcting student’s reports. Other days, there are seminars, group meetings and meetings with collaborators. There really aren’t days that are like the others! That’s the best part.

 

What are you seeking to accomplish in your career?

I love the academic world, despite all the politics, and I would love to continue. Ultimately, I would like to become a professor, but the road is still long. I think we have to take it one step at a time and build our own way.

 recruiting female students is very different from increasing the number of female academics

What do you like to do when you’re not doing research?

All kinds of things! I am a blogger/wedding planner, together with three friends, at a blog called Once Upon a Time a Wedding. I have also been a dancer for more than 15 years and I used to teach Salsa and Kizomba during my PhD. Now I have turned to Tango, which is my new passion. Besides that, I love sewing my own clothes (I made my own wedding dress), photographing and painting/drawing. I can’t say I have a boring life!

 

Photo: Courtesy of Andreia de Almeida

Photo: Courtesy of Andreia de Almeida

 

 What advice do you have for other women interested in science/chemistry?

Most of all: do what you love! It doesn’t matter if there are only few women in that field. It may be hard in the beginning. You have to be strong to fight stereotypes (and some mentalities), but don’t let anyone tell you that you can’t do it!

 

In your opinion, what will be the next great breakthrough in science/chemistry?

This is also a hard question. There are so many things happening at the same time in the most varied fields. I can say that one breakthrough that I hope comes soon is a new cancer treatment. Of course, as scientists, we know that one miraculous treatment is a utopian thought. However, an effective treatment for one cancer type, with less side-effects, would already be such a victory! I believe this can come sooner than we expect, as people are trying to repurpose FDA-approved drugs for different treatments than those they were originally designed for.

 

 

What should be done to increase the number of female scientists and female professors?

I think we should start by realising that recruiting female students is very different from increasing the number of female academics. There is actually a big number of female students at universities and some (if not most) European countries have more women than men in higher education. The biggest problem we face is keeping them in academia. I think the biggest challenges reside in showing women that the universities support them – with maternity leave, childcare, among other issues. These issues are not exclusive to women of course, but they do affect women more. When women don’t feel supported, they have a harder time at work and often feel like they have fallen behind their male colleagues (this is often potentiated by bosses and supervisors). Having a good support system in place and making sure that every person is treated fairly (regardless of gender) is a very important step to keep women in academia.

“Learn from Your Failures,” Says Monika Patel

Interview with #LiNo17 young scientist Monika Patel

This interview is part of a series of interviews of the “Women in Research” blog that features young female scientists participating in the 67th Lindau Nobel Laureate Meeting, to increase the visibility of women in research (more information for and about women in science by “Women in Research” on Facebook and Twitter). Enjoy the interview with Monika and get inspired.

 

Photo: Courtesy of Monika Patel

Photo: Courtesy of Monika Patel

Monika Patel, 28, from India is a PhD Student at the University of Delhi, India. Her PhD work is entitled “Base Assisted Chemo- and Regioselective C-N, C-S and C-O Bond Formation with Isotopic Labeling Studies.” Presently, she is working on a project on modifications of existing drug molecules that can decrease dosage levels.

 

What inspired you to pursue a career in science/chemistry?

I would have to say that my mentor Prof. Akhilesh K. Verma inspired me to pursue a career in chemistry. I met him during my master classes, where he taught us various organic reactions. He played a pivotal role in my career to develop interest in organic chemistry. At some point, whenever I stuck in the reaction mechanisms, he always supported me and explained me in a facile manner. Thereafter, I started appreciating the logical thought process and scientific reasoning principles involved in organic chemistry. There were many examples of chemical processes in day to day life that demonstrated simple chemistry. I found all of these a real connection to real world problems very appealing, which made me choose chemistry as a career.

 

Who are your role models?

There are two role models in my life: one is my mother and the other is my mentor. My professor Dr. Verma always says “Never Give up”. Both of them give immense strength and courage to face social and academic adversity. They taught me to cross all the huddles of my life and encouraged me to move ahead in my research career.

 

How did you get to where you are in your career path?

In my family, no one has a research background. My mom is a housewife, my father is a service man and my sister is an MBA. After high school, a guardian of mine suggested me to choose chemistry as my graduation subject and to specialise in organic chemistry for the master.

An important step was to join Prof. Verma’s Lab as a research trainee. At that point, I was not sure whether I would choose a research career. Gradually, I develop interest in searching new avenues in this field.

My mentor Dr. Akhilesh K. Verma is like a father figure to me. What I am today is because of him. No words can express my gratitude for him. Another important mentor is Dr. Hament Rajor. He is my graduation professor who encouraged me to choose the field of research under the supervision of Prof. Verma.

During my school times, I always participated in science projects. The miniature volcanic eruption model was one of my favourite activities. I have enthusiastically participated in various national and international conferences. I have also received a young scientist award from the Indian Chemical Society.

Every new beginning in life brings obstacles along with them. The optimisation of any reaction condition is the major challenge in the field of organic chemistry.

 

Photo: Courtesy of Monika Patel

Photo: Courtesy of Monika Patel

 

What is the coolest project you have worked on and why?

The coolest project that I have worked on was hydroamination chemistry; it is a very interesting chemistry of nucleophilic addition reactions. We endeavour to develop molecules that play a vital role in many immunological and natural processes. A variety of enamines are found in many natural and synthetic compounds. They carry out interesting physiological and biological activities. The development of methodologies for the synthesis of such molecules and their transformation is a persistent research topic in organic and pharmaceutical chemistry.

 

What’s a time you felt immense pride in yourself/your work?

I felt immense pride when my review entitled “Base-Mediated Hydroamination of Alkynes” was published in “Accounts of Chemical research”.

This is one of the prestigious journals of the American Chemical Society, and publishing an article in this journal was really tough as it requires a strong background and mastery in your research field.

My second moment of pride in my life was when I received a Young Scientist Award from the Indian Chemical Society. My complete research work has been presented in front of several experienced scientist and competing with other young researchers from all over India was an amazing experience.

 

What is a “day in the life” of Monika like?

I normally get into work between 8:30 and 8:45. First, I check my emails. I spend 40 percent of my day doing bench work and 60 percent at computer. Setting up for simulations, analysing data and reading/writing manuscripts. I have a quick packed lunch and then a group of us go out for a cup of tea at the University café. When I am doing column chromatography, I will work until I get a purified compound in good yields. The day in my life that I liked the most was when I submitted my PhD thesis. It was the happiest and most memorable day of my life. Many congratulations and good blessings were received on that day. The research has not come to an end; however, the four-year austerity has come to an end.

 

Photo: Courtesy of Monika Patel

Photo: Courtesy of Monika Patel

 

What are you seeking to accomplish in your career?

After the PhD, I would like to work as a postdoctoral researcher. I also really enjoy sharing my scientific knowledge with other people and spending time tutoring at various institutes. I want to be a successful scientist as well as teacher.

 

What do you like to do when you’re not doing research?

Besides research, I love to interact or chat with people from different cultures, traveling to new places and eating distinguished food that I haven’t eaten before. Exchange of new ideas and thoughts sparks enthusiasm in me. Traveling to new places freshens my mind, and I try to resolve the problems of life/career etc.

 

What advice do you have for other women interested in science/chemistry?

One important advice I would like to give to other women is to “Learn from your failures”. Women need to be dedicated, patient and strong enough to face failures. Science and research have no boundaries. The knowledge you have gained is not enough. The crave or greed of gaining knowledge should not end at any stage of life.

 

In your opinion, what will be the next great breakthrough in science/chemistry?

The next great breakthrough in science will be the introduction of a new subject termed “Biophyschem”, which is the merger of the three subjects Biology, Physics and Chemistry. For any new discovery, all three subjects are equally important.

Another breakthrough discovery will emerge from my new project of modifying existing drug molecules, which will decrease dosage levels in humans.

 

What should be done to increase the number of female scientists and female professors?

I think high school/graduates/post-graduate teachers and mentors should encourage female students at the initial stage of their career to choose research as their profession. I believe that the educators act as role models for developing interest among the students. Professors that lead a group could have the same amount of positions for male and female candidates. Female scientists and female professors have more commitments towards family and children, so I believe that support from the family and perks from the university/institution as well as balance between male and female candidates will definitely increase the number of female scientist.

 

 

Final Preparations: Lindau Calling! (#LiNo17)

In just a few days, Lindau’s Stadttheater (= city theatre) will open its doors to a week full of science, inspirational exchange and education. We, the organising team of the Lindau Nobel Laureate Meetings, are very much looking forward to having this incredible number of bright minds here on our small island.

 

26.06.2016, Lindau, Germany

The 67th Lindau Nobel Laureate Meeting will take place in Lindau’s city theatre. Photo/Credit: Julia Nimke/Lindau Nobel Laureate Meetings

 

By now, you’ve probably gone through the numerous different phases of preparation, perhaps even packing. So let us give you some last minute guidance and lists for repacking your gear.

 

The Programme

Perhaps you’ve already gotten around to checking this year’s meeting programme. If not, don’t worry – here’s the link to the full programme booklet.

 

65th Lindau Nobel Laureate Meeting, Lindau, Germany Wednesday, 91/07/2015 Lecture Martin Chalfie Picture/Credit: Christian Flemming/Lindau Nobel Laureate Meetings

Nobel Laureate Martin Chalfie at #LiNo15. Picture/Credit: Christian Flemming/Lindau Nobel Laureate Meetings

 

Getting Here

As there will not be any shuttle buses to Lindau that are organised by us, you will have to organise your trip to Lindau by yourself.

Most likely, you’ll be arriving in Lindau by train. All airports you might be flying into offer connections to “Lindau Hbf” (the train station to head to) via train. You can either buy a ticket at the train stations or via www.bahn.com. You have arrived in Lindau as soon as you see water to your left, to your right and in front of you. Welcome to Lake Constance!

 

Registration

In order to take advantage of everything Lindau has to offer, you need to register with us and get your conference materials. Upon registration, you will receive your name badge, which indicates to our staff which events you will attend, your personal agenda, the final programme and more.

Registration will take place in the gym of the primary school (Turnhalle) opposite the back entrance of this year’s meeting venue Stadttheater and open on Saturday, 24 June from 3 p.m. until 6 p.m and Sunday, 25 June from 10 a.m. until 8 p.m. Please note that you will have to show a valid ID at the registration desk.

 

Everything Else You Need to Know

The opening ceremony starts on Sunday at 4 p.m., and the Stadttheater will open its doors at 3 p.m. For security reasons, it is not allowed to bring any large bags. For your convenience, there is a depository truck where your luggage will be securely stored just outside the Stadttheater next to the Turnhalle. You will have to have your name badge and valid ID-card with you for access.

For a Google Map with all the important places in Lindau, please click here (or check the meeting app): 

 

What to Bring & What to Wear

There is no dress code for the regular scientific sessions. For invitational dinners, you may want to bring something more festive (suits, cocktail dresses). As the lake is great for swimming, you may want to bring swim wear. Some of the local swimming pools even offer free entrance for the participants of the Lindau Meeting. Sunscreen and mosquito repellents are a good idea as well. 

Make sure to bring comfortable shoes that are suitable for cobblestone roads and different weather conditions. A hairdryer may be useful as well as a voltage converter (220 volt) or adapter as German socket-outlets vary from those abroad.

Over the last years, one of the events has become particularly popular among all participants: the “Bavarian Evening” hosted by the Free State of Bavaria. For this, it is a great idea to wear a traditional festive costume from your home country. Those of you who own a traditional Bavarian costume (a Dirndl dress for women and Lederhosen for men) are more than welcome to wear that instead.

 

At the Bavarian evening, everyone is invited to wear the traditional outfit of their home country. Photo/Credit: Christian Flemming/Lindau Nobel Laureate Meetings

At the Bavarian evening, everyone is invited to wear the traditional outfit of their home country. Photo/Credit: Christian Flemming/Lindau Nobel Laureate Meetings

 

Morning Workouts

For those of you participating in the morning workouts: please bring comfortable sportswear, a towel and sturdy sneakers. Water bottles will be provided upon registration.

 

Internet & Phones

The meeting venue is equipped with wireless LAN (WiFi). Special log-in credentials will not be required – just follow the instructions.

It’s always helpful if you bring along your mobile phone so that we will be able to contact you easily. To use a mobile phone in a German network, it needs to support the GSM standard (used all over Europe). The German country code is +49.

 

Money

The currency used in Germany and many European countries (except Switzerland) is the Euro. Money can be exchanged at airports or at local banks. Credit cards (e.g. Visa, Mastercard) and Maestro/EC cards can be used to withdraw money from ATMs (called “Geldautomaten”) using your PIN. Please check the map to see where to find the nearest ATMs. Cheques and traveller cheques have become rather uncommon and are hardly accepted anywhere.

 

Nobel Laureate Steven Chu talking to young scientists at #LiNo16. Picture/Credit: Christian Flemming/Lindau Nobel Laureate Meetings

Nobel Laureate Steven Chu talking to young scientists at #LiNo16. Picture/Credit: Christian Flemming/Lindau Nobel Laureate Meetings

 

Emergencies

In case of an emergency at the main meeting venue, please contact the staff. Please note that our staff is not authorised to hand out any medication. A paramedic team is present at the meeting venue and can help with all health-related issues. If you have an emergency at a different location, please either contact any of the staff if present, or call 112, the official emergency number that will work in all of the EU countries and in Switzerland. During the meeting, you will be covered by a health insurance policy provided by the organisers.

 

The Meeting App

As last year, there will be a conference app available at this year’s Lindau Meeting. All the information from this post can also be found in there (…and more!). For an in-depth explanation on how to get started with the app, please refer to my colleague Christoph’s guide.

 

Last but Not Least

If you want to get a taste of the “Lindau spirit” prior to the meeting, you are invited to take a look at our Facebook page, follow us on Twitter (@lindaunobel) and Instagram (@lindaunobel). Throughout the week of the meeting, we will try to post as much interesting content as possible via #LiNo17, this year’s official hashtag. Do join the conversation – we’d be happy!

My colleagues and I will be happy to assist you at the Young Scientist Help Desk, should you have any questions. It is going to be a great week, so let’s make the most of it!

And finally, if you haven’t seen them yet, take a look at our new bags, which will soon be yours ;-)

 

Nadine, Nesrin and Karen – always there to help you out during your time in Lindau! Photo/Credit: Lindau Nobel Laureate Meetings