Summer of ’19

Check out our summer cork board below, and you’ll find that the Vastenhouwies took part in many adventures. Even when we’re away from the lab, we like to keep our curious mind active and explore the wonders of science:

Get up close and personal with a tardigrade at Micropia (Museum of Microbes) in Amsterdam,

See the showcase of Alfred Nobel and past and current Nobel Laureates at the Nobel Prize Museum in Stockholm,

Interact with DNA and nucleosomes at the Health Care Museum in Tallinn, and

And when in Moscow, check out Moscow State University.

Summertime also means taking advantage of nice weather and summer events: the annual Elbhangfest festival along the Elbe River, a pleasant journey along Elbewegrad (Elbe River Bike Path) to Pirna, and heading out for lunch together as a bike gang.

Yelyzaveta Zadorozhna

Yelyzaveta was born in Kharkiv, the second-largest city in Ukraine. She is currently studying Biotechnology at the University of Wroclaw in Poland. Her Bachelor’s project focused on the genetic disorders causing defective glycosylation and she is now continuing to investigate the role of nucleotide sugar transporters in cellular glycosylation for her Master’s research.

In the meantime, she tries to explore other exciting research directions during her summer breaks. Having spent two wonderful summers studying cyanobacterial Rubisco biogenesis as well as looking into the mechanisms of RNA mobility in plants, she is now ready for new adventures. Eager to get deeper insights into developmental biology and learn to work with zebrafish, she joined the Vastenhouw lab for an internship to explore the main players in zygotic genome activation. If you can’t find Liza at the lab bench, she might be painting, jogging in the city or enjoying an art event.

O Canada!

Even though home is across the pond, that won’t stop a Canuck from celebrating Canada Day on July 1st!

Gather the labmates, plant the Canadian flag, and celebrate with Canadian beer 🍁

Prague. Pilsner. PhD retreat. 🤓

On May 19-21, our predocs Hann and Ksenia took some time off from the fishies to journey to Prague for the 2019 DIPP PhD retreat. DIPP PhD retreats are always organised by students and have a strict no-PI policy. This year, Ksenia was one of the organisers and she had a blast doing it!

In addition to enjoying refreshing Czech beer and the beautiful city of Prague, the PhD students also discussed science and career choices post-PhD with interdisciplinary guests invited for the retreat. This year, the PhD students welcomed Vikas Trivedi and Gopi Shah (MPI-CBG alumni) from EMBL Barcelona, Stephanie Weber from McGill, and Phillippe Gorry from University of Bordeaux. Our predocs had fruitful discussions with the speakers about career development and are looking forward to the next PhD retreat already!

MZT in review

Our lab’s latest review is now out in Development!
It has been 10 years since Wael Tadros & Howard Lipshitz’s much-loved review “The maternal-to-zygotic transition: a play in two acts“. Now, Nadine, Howard Lipshitz and Wen Xi Cao (PhD student in the Lipshitz lab) revisit the field of maternal-to-zygotic transition (MZT) and take a look at the research conducted over the last decade. They provide an updated description and the current mechanistic understanding of MZT.

Happy reading!

 

 

Vastenhouwlab goes to Prague for EMBO meeting

The Vastenhouwlab is back from the EMBO Workshop: Awakening the Genome!

The meeting was held from May 15-18, 2019 in Prague, Czech Republic, and featured an amazing line up of speakers in the MZT field. The legendary Marc Kirschner (Harvard Medical School, USA) and Geneviève Almouzni (Institut Curie, France) were the keynote speakers. Many of us presented posters and received a lot of insights and comments.

Many thanks to the organisers for putting together such a wonderful program, and bringing together scientists for stimulating discussions. We look forward to the next EMBOmzt meeting 2 years from now!


Photo credit: header image and Nadine’s talk bubble from @SvobodaLab

Pop Goes the Champagne – Fellowship for Edlyn

Congratulations to Edlyn on her postdoctoral fellowship award from the Fonds de recherche du Québec – Santé (FRQS)!

As the Kool & The Gang would sing: “Cel-e-brate good times, come on!”

We think Ramya secretly shook the bottle before letting Edlyn open it…

Ramya Purkanti

Ramya comes from India with training in both computational and experimental techniques. She did her undergraduate engineering degree in Biotechnology from Indian Institute of Technology (IIT), Guwahati, India. For her doctoral work, she joined Prof. Mukund Thattai at National Centre for Biological Sciences (NCBS), India to understand the billion-year-old origins of eukaryotic intracellular compartments. She discovered the role of gene duplications and hybridization in this key evolutionary transition. Diving deeper, she joined Prof. Michael Desai at Harvard to understand the effect of mutation rate on the dynamics and outcome of evolutionary processes. Along the way, her interest was piqued to understand how cells find/activate stimuli-relevant genes within the compacted nuclear genome in a time-sensitive manner. She decided to take on this challenge and joined Nadine at MPI-CBG to address this. Apart from science, she loves nature walks, gardening and theatre.

Week of Enlightment

Noémie and Edlyn took part in the “Principles of Light Microscopy” course from April 1-5. Over the course of one week, a tight-knit group of 12 scientists (including PhD students, postdocs, and a BioImage analyst) discussed the basics of microscopy, optics principles, setup and techniques behind the different types of microscopes, digital imaging, and ended with extended resolution in fluorescence microscopy. The program contained a nice mix of theory learning, hands on experience, demos, and short presentations by other imaging specialists in our institute.

This microscopy course is held annually and is organized by our institute’s Light Microscopy Facility (LMF). This year, the course was held in a new venue, in our neighbouring Center for Systems Biology Dresden (CSBD). Great location, making the course seem like a 1-week microscopy retreat!

 

Photos (top row, left to right): listening to imaging specialists, looking at an image of Edlyn’s hair through polarized light; (bottom row, left to right): studying the effects of refraction and polarization, at our microscope stations in small groups for some hands-on experience and tutoring, what do you see Noémie?