Martino Ugolini

Martino was born in Heidelberg and grew up in Berlin. He studied in Pisa at the University of Pisa and at the Scuola Normale Superiore. During the summer between his second and third year, he worked in G. Cecere’s Lab at the Institut Pasteur (Paris) on the role of piRNAs in gene regulation in C. elegans. For his Bachelor’s thesis, he studied the age-dependent effect of the drug Rotenone on the lifespan of the short-lived killifish N. furzeri under the supervision of A. Cellerino. During his Master’s thesis, he studied the age-dependent regulation of the synaptic transcriptome in mice in A. Cellerino’s Lab (Jena). After discovering the MPI during a summer internship at the Bruguès Lab, he joined the Vastenhouw Lab as a predoc, where he will be studying the chromatin organization during the zygotic genome activation (ZGA). In his free time, he plays the violin, listens to music and watches movies.

Martino is also a PhD Student Representative for the IMPRS program.

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.

Hann Ng

Half way across the globe, Hann grew up in the tropical country of Malaysia where he had a curious mind for biology from a young age. In pursuit of understanding the ‘why’s and ‘how’s of life, he moved to Leeds, UK for his Integrated Masters in Molecular Medicine at University of Leeds. During which, Hann worked on using CRISPRi to knockdown genes involved in histone modifications under the guidance of Dr. Ron Chen. There, he grew increasingly perplexed and fascinated by the complexities of transcriptional control and the regulation of cell type specific transcriptional programs. This eventually led him to the Vastenhouw lab, where he will be attempting to understand transcriptional control by studying how the earliest transcription event in the developing zebrafish embryo is initiated. When he’s not at work, Hann likes to cook, dance salsa and read (not just journal articles).

Noémie

Noémie was born in a small town close to Paris. She fell in love with genetics in her first science classes in middle school. After high school, she studied medicine in Paris and received her Bachelor’s in medical sciences. Then, she switched from medicine to research and graduated from the Magistère Européen de génétique in Paris Diderot University. During her Master’s, she had the opportunity to work on the HOX gene evolution in plankton (Oikopleura dioica) in the Chourrout group, Center for Marine Biology in Bergen, Norway. Afterwards, she had a great experience studying the effects of compressive stresses on C. albicans in the Holt group, NYU, New York. Finally, she did her Master’s thesis with Dr Escude’s group at the Natural History Museum of Paris, where she worked on the evolution of alpha-satellite sequences in Cercopithecini. Now, she begins a new chapter in the Vastenhouw lab. She will be focusing on understanding early gene transcription in zebrafish and the biophysical mechanisms involved in that process. Exciting!

During her free time, she likes to play the violin (be careful of your ears), travel, and build her family tree.

Sabrina Pralow

Sabrina was born in Apolda, a town in the state of Thuringia in central Germany. She studied in Jena as an “engineer of Biotechniques”. Since 2007, Sabrina has been working at the MPI-CBG. She started as a technician in the group of Andrew Oates. After the Oates lab left CBG in 2012, she joined Nadine, helped kick start the lab and became a pillar of the Vastenhouw group. Sabrina makes sure the lab is organised and that the fish are happy. She welcomes new lab members with a friendly face, lends supports to their experiments, and makes sure every PhD student leaves the lab with an artisanal Doktorhut.

Ksenia Kuznetsova

Ksenia is from Estonia, where she studied Gene Technology and got first hands-on research experience in the immunology lab of Dr Sirje Rüütel-Boudinot. With an early formed passion for developmental biology, she moved to France for an international Master’s at Université Pierre et Marie Curie. For her Master`s project, Ksenia studied the regulation of trophobast identity at the maternal-fetal interface in the group of Dr Céline Méhats. During a sunny semester in Portugal, she got introduced to the zebrafish model and gene editing tools in the lab of Dr Miguel Godinho-Ferreira. Before moving on to PhD, she worked in the lab of Dr Tambet Teesalu, where they use phage display screens to identify homing peptides. Eager to unravel the mysteries of early development, Ksenia started her PhD in the Vastenhouw group to understand the regulation of zygotic genome activation. When away from the bench, she enjoys exploring the surroundings, hiking and learning salsa.

Besides visualizing transcription activity in the zebrafish embryo, Ksenia was previously a PhD Student Representative for the IMPRS program. She’s a member of the MPI-CBG/CSBD Sustainability group, coming up with strategies and activities on how to make the research environment more green and sustainable.

Edlyn Wu

Edlyn was born in Montréal, Canada. She grew up enjoying the Montréal winter and cheering on her favourite hockey team: the Montreal Canadiens. Edlyn majored in Biochemistry at McGill University. She was among the first students to join Dr. Thomas Duchaine’s lab, where she completed her MSc and PhD. Her focus was understanding the mechanism of microRNA-mediated gene silencing, using C. elegans as a model organism. With a passion for traveling, and a long standing interest in zebrafish and early developmental biology, she moved to Europe and joined the Vastenhouw group in January 2017. Edlyn is investigating the molecular events that regulate the timing of zygotic genome activation.

Besides being a biochemist, Edlyn is also an intern for the MPI-CBG’s Public Relations Office. She is involved in science communication activities with the institute through public events (Long Night of Science in Dresden), writing press releases & newspieces for recently published research articles, and newsletter work.

Nadine Vastenhouw

Nadine was born in Amsterdam and after a happy youth in one of the many Dutch polders, she returned to Amsterdam to do her Masters in Medical Biology. Here, her passion for biology and science communication was born. For her PhD, she joined the lab of Ronald Plasterk at the Hubrecht Institute in Utrecht and dissected the mysteries of transposon silencing and RNA interference in the roundworm C. elegans. After graduating in 2006, Nadine moved to Cambridge to join Alex Schier’s lab at Harvard University. Funded by EMBO and HFSP, she fell in love with the first few hours of zebrafish development and spent her time investigating the role of chromatin structure in the regulation of embryonic transcription. In 2012 she moved back to Europe to start her lab at the Max Planck Institute of Molecular Cell Biology and Genetics in Dresden thanks to generous funds by the Max Planck Society, The MPI-CBG and HFSP.