I grew up in Germany where I completed both my Bachelor and Master’s degrees in Molecular Biotechnology from the University of Heidelberg. My studies focused on Cellular Biophysics, for example designing DNA-based probes to measure molecular forces. At the same time my interest in fundamental research grew, and which topic is more fundamental to biology than making life from scratch?

Therefore, I was excited when given the opportunity to come to SFU for my PhD to study the origin of life with Prof. Unrau, who is a known expert in RNA biology and the RNA world. RNA is a molecule like DNA, which is found in all life on Earth. As RNA can be both a genome and enzyme it is ideal for a potential origin of life – the RNA world hypothesis. Our goal is to strengthen this hypothesis by finding an RNA that is capable of both self-replication and evolution. During my PhD research I hope to use both human-design and evolution in the lab to improve on our current model which postulates that an RNA can synthesize a new RNA strand using the same method as natural proteins.

Besides my research I enjoy doing Kendo (Japanese sword fighting) which I started at SFU, writing as well as playing table-top role-playing games, and having a great time with friends.

If you are interested in becoming a graduate student, find a topic and project you are deeply interested in. Also use your graduate studies to see some different parts of the world, both in terms of science and location. I, for example, did an exchange semester in Kyoto during my masters. Staying motivated can carry you a long way and crossing borders or continents might just be the beginning of your journey.