Meet the Fellow: SERDAR ÖZSEZEN

It’s the end of our Meet the Fellows post, wrapping up with today’s interview with Serdar Özsezen. He is based in Groningen in Prof. Matthias Heinemann’s lab.

What is your background in science (and otherwise)? Why are you mo
tivated to work on this topic? What do you hope to accomplish during your PhD?

I have a background in chemical engineering (both bachelor and master). I wrote my master thesis on a subject that is related to computational structural biology. That was when my interest for biology started to grow. I really like computer programming and mathematical modelling.

Thus, biology is full of problems that you can tackle with computational methods and it is a lot of fun!profilepic_serdar.png

My ambition is to develop genuine approaches to solve some biological problems and meanwhile develop my computational skills.

What led you to decide to do a PhD?

Actually my masters led me to do a PhD because I realized that it was a really satisfying work. You have the opportunity to discover something new and acquire transferable skills meanwhile. On the other hand, you get a chance to teach the young people which could be a lot of fun as well.

It hasn’t been that long since we were interviewing for PhDs; what are some pointers you would give to students looking for a PhD to do during their undergraduate or Master’s?

They should choose a topic that they like to work on. Secondly, they should choose an advisor who  they can communicate well with. These are two very important points in my experience. When you have these both, then you are a happy grad student.

What are your short-term and long-term career goals (aka, what do you want to be “when you grow up” )?

Short-term goals: Acquire enough knowledge in field of microbiology to be able to tackle my research problem.

Long-term goals: I would like to have my own open source software project (ideally related to computational biology). Also, eventually I would like to get experience in industry.

What do you like to do for fun (outside of science, of course)?

Computer music production, digital visual arts, building electronic circuits with Arduino

What is your favorite food?





Aptamers 2016 – Oxford, UK

Adam Mol  was in Oxford at the beginning of the month for the Aptamers Conference. To find out more about this conference, check out @LPMHealthcare,  @AptamerSociety or #AptaOx16 on twitter.

Gladly, I would like to announce that on 04-05 April, I participated in Aptamers 2016: 3rd Oxford symposium on Aptamers. The meeting took place at St Hilda’s College, Oxford, UK. This year the symposium chair was Professor Beatrix Suess from Technical University of Darmstadt, Germany.

aptamer conf 1

Aptamers 2016 was an excellent symposium! It brought together academic and industrial aptamer researchers. During the meeting, therapeutic, diagnostic, analytical as well as basic research applications of aptamers were addressed. The symposium was divided into five sessions:

  1. SELEX – New technological developments
  2. Small molecule binding aptamers – Characterization and their application for gene control
  3. Aptamers as diagnostic tools
  4. Therapeutic aptamers
  5. Further Technologies

aptamer conf 2

Continue reading Aptamers 2016 – Oxford, UK

Meet the Fellow: JOSI BUERGER

Our Meet the Fellow series is almost coming to a close, as we have now met 14 out of 15 Fellows. Today we hear from Josi Buerger based at Biosyntia. Find her on twitter at @josi_bee.

What does your lab do? What is a brief description of the project you work on? What is your background in science (and otherwise)? Why are you motivated to work on this topic? What do you hope to accomplish during your PhD?josi 1

To be perfectly honest, the only reason I enrolled for Molecular Biosciences at my university was because I had good marks in Biology at school… In hindsight, this wasn’t due to any inherent talent on my side, but because I had a fantastic teacher.

This was problematic once I started my undergraduate studies. I had trouble engaging with topics outside of their practical context. In fact, in my second year, I switched to a joint Philosophy and Biology degree and was convinced that research was not for me. Not until honours classes did I re-discover my interest in science, as teaching at that level was centered on critical thinking that encouraged discussion.

I focused on taking courses on applied biotechnology, as I realised I enjoyed engineering and problem solving. I also learnt that I appreciate lab work, despite all its frustrations. I focused my Masters on metabolic engineering and feel incredibly lucky to have my PhD based in a dynamic start-up that builds biosustainable solutions.

Continue reading Meet the Fellow: JOSI BUERGER

The EUSynBio Symposium 2016

Josi Buerger attended the EUSynBio Symposium in London last weekend. Here is a personal account of the conference and why you should go next year…

The first Symposium of the European Association of Students and Post-docs in Synthetic Biology (EUSynBioS) advertised itself as an “open, funky, and slightly unconventional synbio event”.  I’ve been involved with parts of the EUSynBioS community before so I decided to attend the 1.5 day conference.

The symposium was held at Imperial College last Saturday, the 9th of April and included a visit to the London Hackspace the next day. The morning session was kicked off with an inspiring talk by Dr Tom Knight on the future of synthetic biology and the importaeusynbio symponce of in silico approaches. This was followed by students and early-stage researchers presenting their research. SynBio is of course about building tools for any application, so the presentation topics ranged from rhodopsin engineering in E. coli  to changing the lifestyle of Pseudomonas. Overall the atmosphere was very pleasant – never one to hold back in the question section myself, some great discussions took place.

Coffee breaks allowed for networking with other attendees. For example, I learned about the Cambridge Hackathon happening early this summer and even talked with industrial designers who were interested in this new field of engineering.

Continue reading The EUSynBio Symposium 2016

Meet the Fellow: AAKRITI JAIN

Editor of two (!) synthetic biology blogs and not afraid to move cross-country AND cross-discipline: Aakriti Jain.

What is your background in science (and otherwise)? Why are you motivated to work on this topic? What do you hope to accomplish during your PhD?

My background is in chemical engineering but I got interested in synthetic biology during my undergraduate, while working in Jay Keasling’s lab at UC Berkeley. I’m thankful for this experience as it introduced me to the world of biological research(which, in my opinion, is vastly different from high school classroom biology). It was through this introduction into biology (from an engineer’s perspective) that motivated me to explore more cellular metabolism, since I found out quickly that this was an important, and sometimes limiting, aspect of synthetic biology.

Hopefully during my PhD I will not only learn some pretty cool techniques and develop amazing science, but also gain more confidence in my scientific knowledge.


What led you to decide to do a PhD?

As an engineer, I always thought I would go straight into industry, but thankfully I decided to do a Master’s before entering the corporate workforce and quickly realized that academia is where my passions lie (at least for now!)


It hasn’t been that long since we were interviewing for PhDs; what are some pointers you would give to students looking for a PhD to do during their undergraduate or Master’s?

Ask every scientist in your life to help you find the perfect PhD for you. Luckily (or not) science is a really collaborative endeavour, and scientists always know of other scientists and other opportunities. Ask them advice on institutes as well as professional colleagues. Apart from this, and more importantly, take some time to think deeply about what you want to spend the next 3-4 years working on. This will be your project and it should be something that motivates you every day!

Continue reading Meet the Fellow: AAKRITI JAIN