Muehlhausen, Germany (former East Germany)
Role at Department:
Many important roles throughout RNA metabolism
Our lab investigates function and mechanism of RNA helicases. These enzymes are ATP-dependent proteins that play many important roles throughout RNA metabolism. We are trying to understand the inner workings of RNA helicases and how they function in the molecular machineries that control cellular RNA complexes.
A wide spectrum of approaches and techniques
Our research covers quite a wide spectrum of approaches and techniques, from molecular biology, over quantitative biochemistry to single molecule biophysics. For example, we use yeast and deep sequencing to figure out the targets of RNA helicases and to define the complexes they are working in. We also use “classical” nucleic acid biochemistry to find out what RNA helicases do to RNA, and we employ our home-built single molecule fluorescence detection setup to deconvolute complex mechanistic problems.
Solid hands-on experience with different techniques
We emphasize quantitative approaches because every biological phenomenon is, in the end, a quantitative problem. Students in the lab learn quite a bit about different approaches, and they get solid hands-on experience with different techniques that are normally not found together. It is not unusual to have a project that combines experiments on yeast with single molecule fluorescence on individual enzymes. Students in the lab come from diverse backgrounds, both geographically and scientifically. For example, we currently have a student who is in the physics graduate program.
Rewarding to see students grow
It is always rewarding to see the students grow, both personally and scientifically during the course of their graduate studies.
Lot’s of interactions
The department, and in fact the whole school, is a very collegial and supportive place. There is lot’s of interactions between labs, and many collaborations are going on. This is great for the students and they get insight into many more things than those that occur immediately in the lab.
Students that have graduated from our lab went on to jobs in Biotech, but mostly to postdocs in leading labs at Berkeley, UW Madison and Brandeis University. Their postdoc projects involve work in single molecule biophysics and on the biochemistry of viral replication.
A wealth of cultural activities
Cleveland and the surrounding areas have actually quite a bit to offer for both mind and body. There is a wealth of cultural activities on many levels, although it takes some time to know where to look for certain things. I like contemporary art like painting, photography and installations, but also contemporary dance. All of this can be enjoyed to quite some degree. I also like music, especially bands that remind me of the 90’s, when I played in hardcore and punk bands myself. There are several very nice venues to see bands in Cleveland, and some of these locales feature very nice programs.
Cleveland has also very nice surroundings. There is a great park system right around Cleveland, and the Cuyahoga National Park is less than half an hour away by car. My family and I go hiking or on bike rides quite often in the National Park. In the winter, we go cross country skiing or snow showing. There is usually enough snow here...
Fantastic opportunities for exercise
Aside from my work, I first aim to spend time with my family. I have two daughters and I try to be around them as much as possible.
But just to balance my mostly sedentary work routines, I do sports. I am a triathlete, and in the last couple of years I have done races up to the half-ironman distance (the picture above is before a race, so I can still smile...). Case has fantastic opportunities for exercise. A great pool is about 2 minutes away from the lab, the gym is about 1 minute away, and a very nice track is about 1 mile away. Longer runs up to about 20 miles or so can be done right out of door as well, and the country roads that surround Cleveland are great for bike rides as long as one wishes.