Department of Biochemistry and the Department of Zoology
Tell us a bit About your role
I am a microbiologist studying bacterial interactions, with a focus on human pathogens and gut microbes. Currently, I am a postdoc in the group of Prof Kevin Foster where I use microscopy to observe bacteria killing each other.
I am originally from Munich (Germany), where I completed my Bachelor’s in Biology before moving to Switzerland for my Master’s and PhD in Microbiology. I then received a fellowship from the Swiss National Science Foundation to conduct research abroad, which brought me to Oxford, and I have worked at the Departments of Biochemistry and Zoology ever since.
My research covers bacterial interactions and their evolution, both crucial to further our understanding of the gut microbiome, bacterial infections, and the evolution of antimicrobial resistance. Our group at the Department of Biochemistry fosters collaborations across the Medical Sciences, including the Dunn School of Pathology, the Kennedy Institute of Rheumatology, and the rodent facility in the Biomedical Sciences Building. My colleagues and I are also embedded in OxBacNet – a network of microbiologists across Departments with many members from the Medical Sciences.
What is the most meaningful aspect of your work?
Personally, the aspect of my work I enjoy the most is talking to a colleague about an exciting or unexpected new result. They might have a take on it I had not considered, and we might just solve a problem I could not have figured out by just mulling it over alone. Having that kind of “Aha!” moment together is priceless. It exemplifies just one of the many ways in which collaboration and a diversity of viewpoints and backgrounds can drive scientific progress.
Can you tell us about something you’ve done, contributed to that you’re most proud of?
Reminiscing about 2020 specifically, I would have to say taking part in the Oxford vaccine trials as a volunteer. Even though I only contributed very little compared to the researchers conducting the trial, I am still excited to be part of something bigger. And it also shows how medical research, and – more generally - public health, often heavily relies on the help of volunteers and the general public to succeed.
What changes would you most like to see in the Medical Sciences in the next 100 years?
I hope to see more progressive thinking and a substantial change in research culture towards more inclusivity. Especially the clinical world is still extremely patriarchal in many places, with steep, deeply embedded hierarchies that limit both innovation and influx of new talent. We absolutely must do better if we want to harness the scientific potential of a diverse pool of researchers and medical professionals to its fullest.