My Vision: Turning Natures Deadliest Innovations into Valuable Assets
Since my childhood I am passionate about animals. In particular about those, that most people try to avoid at all costs. Ever since I am keeping a variety of such creatures as pets. After school, I first started as a lab technician within the chemical industry. After four years I decided to make dangerous animals my profession: I studied biology at the TU Braunschweig and graduated with a masters degree in biochemistry, bioinformatics and genetics in 2018. During that time, I explored the skin poisons of amphibians, in particular of fire salamanders. Next, I pursued my PhD at the Fraunhofer Institute for Molecular Biology and Applied Ecology IME in Gießen with a focus on arachnid venom peptides and the evolution of defensive mechanisms in spiders. After graduating, I was awarded the leadership of the newly established “Animal Venomics Lab”, a research group within the Fraunhofer IME. Here I am currently setting up my lab that focusses on functional Venomics and venom-based drug development by integration of modern -omics technologies and synthetic biology. We are fascinated by venom and poison cocktails from a vast array of animals. In previous projects we screened amphibians, arachnids and marine worms but we are currently expanding our selection of focal taxa to include insects, snakes and fish. We belong to the LOEWE Centre for Translational Biodiversity Genomics (LOEWE-TBG), a research consortium within the excellence initiative of the federal state Hesse located in Frankfurt. Therefore, we house scientists from different TBG partner institutes in my lab, particularly from Fraunhofer IME and the Justus-Liebig-University of Gießen.
Deeply Rooted in Scientific Societies and International Networks
I am an active member of several academic societies including the International Society on Toxinology, French Society of Toxinology and European Federation of Biotechnology. I serve as the current second chairman of the German Arachnological Society and was a substitute member of the management committee within the EU COST action “European Venom Network (EUVEN)” and represented Germany in this framework. In order to facilitate my pursuit for knowledge I performed fieldwork all over the globe, close to my home in Germany and in distant areas such as the Ecuadorian Andes or the Negev desert in Israel.
Beyond the Science
Apart from my research, I immerse myself in a variety of activities: I´m a fitness enthusiast and passionate martial artist, particularly studying and previously competing in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu and Mixed Martial Arts. Moreover, I enjoy travelling and hiking in nature, cooking, photography and reading books. My favourite authors include Bukowski, Dawkins, Mayr and Quammen. I do local politics as a member of Alliance 90/ The Greens.