2020 SEB President’s Medallists

28 February 2021 - By: Benjamin DANOIS

The SEB President’s Medals are awarded annually to young scientists of outstanding merit. Each year our winners are invited to attend our Annual Conference where they present their research and take part in our Awards Ceremony. Unfortunately, as our 2020 Annual Conference was cancelled, we did not have the opportunity to give our winners the recognition they deserved.

For this reason, we would like to celebrate their achievements at our 2021 Annual Conference, where they will be giving a presentation alongside our 2021 President’s Medallists.

Here we introduce our winners and we hope you can join us in celebrating them at our upcoming Annual Conference!

Florian Muijres – Animal Biology President’s Medallist

Florian Muijres - Black and white 300

“ I am very honoured to receive the President Medal. I have always greatly enjoyed the President Medallist talks at previous SEB meetings. So, I am really excited to give such talk myself this year, and tell you all about the biomechanics of animal flight."

Dr Florian Muijres studies the biomechanics and aerodynamics of animal flight. Throughout his career, he has studied the biofluidmechanics of all extant groups of flying animals: birds, bats and insects.

During his PhD at Lund University, Sweden, he studied the aerodynamics of bird and bat flight. His research showed that birds and bats can hover because they produce leading edge vortices on their rapidly beating wings. He also showed that the aerodynamic efficiency of flying birds is higher than that of bats, owing to the presence of feathers in bird wings versus a flexible wing membranes in bats.

Florian did his postdoctoral research at Dickinson Lab, University of Washington, Seattle, USA where studied the aerodynamics and manoeuvre control of fruit flies. His research showed why it is so difficult to swat a fly: flying flies produce extremely fast and precisely-controlled escape manoeuvres.

Currently, Florian Muijres runs his animal flight lab at the Experimental Zoology Group of Wageningen University, The Netherlands. For his research on insect flight, his lab focusses on insects with societal relevance such as malaria mosquitoes and pollinating bees. Florian’s bird flight research primarily focusses on the link between the biomechanics of animal flight and movement ecology. The research of Florian Muijres is positioned at the interface between biology, physics and ecology, which requires a highly interdisciplinary lab housing specialists in aerospace engineering, control theory, biology and ecology.

Johannes Kromdijk – Plant Biology President’s Medallist

Johannes Kromdijk - B&W

“I am incredibly honoured to be the 2020 recipient of the SEB President’s Medal and will try my best to live up to its promise. We have a lot of interesting research planned for 2021, which will hopefully turn out to be a year filled with surprising and exciting results.”

Growing up in an area of The Netherlands with an abundance of glasshouses, Johannes became interested in plants at an early age. He obtained his BSc and MSc in Plant Sciences at Wageningen University (NL). In 2007 he was awarded the Alexander James Keith PhD studentship to work with Prof. Howard Griffiths at the University of Cambridge (UK), where he studied the effects of light limitation on the efficiency of the carbon concentrating mechanism in C4 photosynthesis. After finishing his PhD, he worked as a research scientist in greenhouse horticulture in Wageningen (NL) for three years, focusing on crop management strategies to optimize photosynthesis and energy use efficiency.

In 2013, he joined the Realizing Increased Photosynthetic Efficiency project team in the lab of Prof. Stephen Long at the Carl R. Woese Institute for Genomic Biology (University of Illinois, USA). Here his work focused on the impact of photoprotection kinetics on the efficiency of photosynthesis during sun-shade transitions. This research led to a major breakthrough when faster recovery of photoprotection in transgenic tobacco was found to increase photosynthetic efficiency and productivity under field conditions.

Since September 2018 Johannes has returned to Cambridge as a fellow at Pembroke College and a University Lecturer in the Department of Plant Sciences, where he employs a range of techniques from ecophysiology, mathematical modelling, biotechnology and genetic engineering to study plant physiology at the nexus of basic understanding of plant function and applications to improve sustainability and food security.

Stefanie Rosa – Cell Biology President’s Medallist

Stefanie Rosa V1

“I am hugely honoured to receive the President’s Medal award from SEB. I am immensely thankful to the people I was lucky to work with over the past years who helped to reach this stage in my career. This recognition gives me even more motivation and dedication towards my work and my new team.”

Single-molecule techniques available today avoid ensemble averaging and allow capturing previously unobtainable detail on heterogeneous behaviour, rendering them incredibly powerful in elucidating cellular mechanisms at the molecular level. Throughout her research career, Stefanie has been interested in applying these methods to link the dynamics of chromatin properties with biological processes.

During her PhD in the laboratory of Prof. Peter Shaw (UK), she questioned how the physical properties of chromatin change during cell differentiation. For this, she measured histone exchange in vivo for different cell types in plants. She showed that as cells progress from an undifferentiated to a fully differentiated state, histone-DNA interactions become increasingly stable and that manipulation of histone exchange can cause delays in cell differentiation.

In 2013, she joined the lab of Prof. Caroline Dean (UK). During this time, she used live-cell imaging approaches and single-molecule RNA detection methods to study the importance of nuclear organization and long non-coding RNAs for transcriptional regulation.

In 2018, Stefanie established her research group ‘3D organization of the cell nucleus’ at the Department of Plant Biology (SLU, Uppsala - Sweden). There, she continues her focus on using single-molecule tools to study how the spatial-temporal organization of the chromatin affects regulatory processes at the level of transcription, but also how it impacts genome stability and DNA repair mechanisms in Arabidopsis thaliana.


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