Science enthusiast, dog-lover, father and scientist (not in that order) who loves to get his geek on in his spare time.
I live near Glasgow with my wife and two toddlers. We have 2 labradors and I love to cook. Love SciFi (StarTrek, NOT StarWars) and have an annoying habit to remember “useless” facts. Big fan of StarTalk with Neil deGrasse Tyson and other Science shows on Youtube. Oh, and I shoot in competitions and enjoy country sports.
A main part of my work is figuring out how living things do chemistry. It is truly amazing what nature can do: One molecule we are working on (an antibiotic) is put together in 10 individual steps by bacteria that live in soil. Sounds a lot and complicated? Chemists have been able to make the same molecule in a lab and that takes at least 36 steps (depends a bit on how you count) and requires toxic substances such as mercury. By studying the proteins that do the chemistry in bacteria we can now make this antibiotic in the lab using the same number of steps as bacteria and no toxic substances.
A major part of figuring out how nature works in my lab is called “structural biology”. That means looking at proteins and other molecules with atomic resolution and is really amazing: We can see the individual atoms that make up the molecule and how things are organized in 3D. When combined with other data that allows us to make educated guesses about how the atoms move when the protein does its job and thus work out how proteins do chemistry.
Using the same technique(s) we can also tell how medicines may work, and how they could be improved.
More details can be found here: www.koehnkelab.com
My Typical Day:
Wake up, get the children ready, walk the dogs, BREAKFAST. Sit down in front of my computer and start to think/write about past and new ideas. Procrastinate by helping students to figure out problems. Walk the dogs, have dinner with the family, tuck children into bed, get back to my computer and continue to work until my wife gets annoyed.
What I'd do with the prize money:
I want to try an experiment in a local school that could lead to the discovery of new medicines from samples the students collect and analyse with me.
Abitur in a small town in northern Germany.
That got me into Leibniz University, Hannover, Germany, where I got a degree in Biochemistry.
The degree and some extracurriculars landed me a full scholarship to Columbia University in New York City, where I obtained a MPhil, MA and PhD.
Dipl. Biochem, MA, MPhil, PhD. Without a PhD a career in science is ultimately limited.
– Mailman (as a student in Germany)
– Tennis coach (as a student in Germany)
– Janitor (as a student in Germany)
– Research assistant (in Germany and the US)
– PhD student (In the US)
– PostDoc (In the UK)
– Junior Professor (In Germany)
How would you describe yourself in 3 words?
What did you want to be after you left school?
Were you ever in trouble at school?
Who is your favourite singer or band?
What's your favourite food?
If you had 3 wishes for yourself what would they be? - be honest!
A long and healthy life for me and my family. A significant raise.
Tell us a joke.
(Santa Clause) x i