Meet the group

On top of the Sunstone Building, March 2023.
Martin Loose, Professor

Diploma in Chemistry, University of Heidelberg
Diploma thesis, EMBL (with François Nedelec and Joachim Spatz)
PhD in Biology, TU Dresden / MPI CBG (with Petra Schwille)
Postdoc, Harvard Medical School, Boston (with Tim Mitchison),
CV, more about Martin in his JCS “Cell scientist to watch” interview

Anita Čarija, Lab Manager

BSc in Molecular Biology, University of Zagreb
MSc in Molecular Biology, University of Zagreb
PhD in Biochemistry, Molecular Biology and Biomedicine, Autonomous University of Barcelona (with Salvador Ventura)

During my MSc degree, I got interested in pathological mechanisms that underlie neurodegenerative diseases. Before starting PhD, I performed an internship within the group of Dr. Daniel Kaganovich (Hebrew University of Jerusalem), where I applied super-resolution live-cell imaging to study cellular protein quality control centres, JUNQ and IPOD, responsible for cellular processing of misfolded and aggregated proteins. I pursued a PhD degree within the group of Dr. Salvador Ventura, where I have implemented a multi-disciplinary approach in order to further study the fundamental aspects of protein aggregation processeswith the aim to provide an insight into potential therapeutic strategies for treatment of Parkinson’s Disease. Prior to joining Martin’s group as a lab manager, I worked within R&D company where I assisted with the development of IVD kit for a global healthcare company.

Xing Ye, Postdoc

BSc in Applied Microbiology, Henan Agricultural University
MSc in Microbiology and Genetics, Wuhan University
PhD in Molecular Biology of Archaea, University of Freiburg (with Sonja Verena – Albers)

Before coming to ISTA, I had stayed in a pure archaea lab for 6 years, and studied the role of protein phosphorylation in the archaellum synthesis. Since part of the research in the lab is focused on cell division, I got to know the archaeal cell division. Compared to bacteria, the cell division mechanism in archaea is not well studied in both in vivo and vitro systems. I realised studying archaeal cell division in vitro would be an innovation research. Due to this reason, I got in touch with Martin and proposed to use his well-established bacterial in vitro reconstitution approaches to study archaeal cell division. Currently, I study how archaeal cells utilise eukaryotic ESCRT III like systems to perform cell division in vitro as my postdoc project.

Albert Auer, PhD student

BSc in Microbiology and Genetics, University of Vienna
MSc in Molecular Biology and Biochemistry, University of Vienna

As Richard Feynman said, “What I cannot create, I do not understand”. Or speaking in biochemistry terms: “What I cannot rebuild, I do not understand”. In protein biochemistry we use proteins as minimal building blocks to rebuild cellular functions in order to understand their underlying mechanisms. Fascinated by the bottom – up approach, I joined Martin’s Lab to first do my MSc thesis and continued with my PhD.  Using this approach I try to understand GTPase regulation as a protein network with specific focus on the small GTPase ARF6, its regulators and effectors. By reconstituting ARF6 regulation in a test tube I am aiming  to get insights into how GTPase regulation works on a larger cellular scale. Besides working on my PhD project, I love to ride my road bike and go fishing on the Danube.

Caterina Giannini, PhD student (co-supervisor: Jiri Friml)

BSc in Biotechnology, University of Pisa
MSc in Molecular Biotechnology, University of Pisa
MSc in Plant Biotechnology, Sant’Anna School of Advanced Studies

Before joining ISTA as a PhD student in 2020, I worked on different plant signaling pathways involved in metabolism (Plant Lab, Pisa-Italy, with Prof. Pierdomenico Perata) or in response to a pathogenic fungus (Gregor Mendel Institute, VBC, Vienna and IPK, Gatersleben-Germany, with Prof. Armin Djamei). During my lab experience, I became more and more interested in dissecting signalling by using interdisciplinary approaches, for example, those of synthetic biology or biochemistry. Thus, for my PhD project, I decided to join both Friml (auxin biology) and Loose (reconstitution of small GTPases) groups to combine experiments in plants with synthetic reconstitution in vitro. This will help me tackle my question: how does the plant hormone auxin activate fast cellular responses to regulate plant growth? In my free time, you can find me practising Ballet or dancing Argentine Tango.

Hanifatul Rahmah Budiman, PhD student (co-supervisor: Florian Schur)

BSc in Biology, Uludag University
MSc in Biotechnology, University of Pecs

I obtained my bachelor degree in Biology at Uludag University, Turkey and continued my master degree in Biotechnology at University of Pécs, Hungary where I worked on the interaction between the formin DAAM, the microtubule end binding protein EB1, and actin. At ISTA, I am jointly affiliated with the Schur and Loose groups where I aim to apply cryo-electron tomography and TIRFM to study the in vitro actin network assembly. Besides the lab, I am passionate about baking, so I am very happy to bring cake for any occasion in the group!

Marko Kojic, PhD student

BSc in Molecular Biology and Physiology, University of Belgrade

During my undergraduate studies, I first worked in the field of molecular microbiology with Professor Dianne Newman at Caltech where I worked on genetic mechanisms of a cross-kingdom interaction between a bacterium and a fungus. Later on, I got my hands-on experience in a protein biochemistry lab at the Institut Pasteur as part of the Amgen Scholars Program, where I worked on enzymatic activities of different luciferases with Assist. Professor Sophie Goyard. Finally, in order to combine my interest in both microbiology and biochemistry, I joined Martin’s group for my PhD to work on the biochemical evolution of prokaryotic cell division mechanisms. Besides the lab, I am also working as a spinning instructor at SuperCycle Vienna.

Ivana Matijevic, PhD student

BSc in Biology, University of Novi Sad
MSc in Molecular Biology, University of Novi Sad

My career was oriented toward plant molecular biology for a few years. I interned for a year in Jiri’s Friml laboratory at ISTA. Through graduate school, I got the opportunity to rotate in different labs, which led to my affiliation with Martin. I am working on in vitro reconstitution of Rab5 cycling. Apart from my time in the lab, I enjoy playing board games and doing sports.

Olesia Ledovich, Technician

BSc in Chemistry, Ivanovo State University, Ivanovo
MSc in Molecular Biology and Biotechnology, ITMO University, Saint Petersburg

Before joining the Loose group, I worked for one of the largest pharmaceutical companies in Russia for more than two years. I have been involved in the development of drugs based on monoclonal antibodies that are used to treat various types of cancer. I also carried out a scale-up of downstream technology processes in an industrial area.

Benjamin Springstein, Postdoc

BSc in Molecular Life Sciences, University of Hamburg
MSc in Molecular Medicine, University of Göttingen
PhD in Microbiology, Christian-Albrechts University of Kiel (Supervisor: Tal Dagan)
Postdoc, Harvard Medical School, Boston (Supervisor: Ann Hochschild)

For my PhD at the University of Kiel in the group of Prof. Tal Dagan, I investigated the underlying principles of the extensive morphological diversity of cyanobacteria, focusing on cytoskeletal proteins. How are cytoskeletal proteins involved in this diversity and do they differ from other less complex bacteria? In the course of this analysis, I identified several cyanobacterial-specific coiled-coil-rich proteins of intermediate-filament-like function that affected essential cellular processes, including cell morphology and cell-filament alignment. For my first postdoc, I shifted my focus to study bacterial prion proteins in the group of Prof. Ann Hochschild at Harvard Medical School. This project, however, rapidly changed into a project about the occurrence and surprising relative abundance of non-programmed ribosomal frameshifting in E. coli in the end. Nonetheless, my main scientific interest remains with cyanobacterial cytoskeletal elements, which is why I joined the group Prof. Martin Loose to study the DNA segregation mechanism in oligoploid cyanobacteria, a so far unexplored chapter.

Arsenii Solovev, PhD student

Roman Hajdu, PhD student

During my studies at the University of Glasgow, under the guidance of Dr. Brian O. Smith, my primary research focused on analyzing the biochemical and structural attributes of extremophile homologs of bacterial potassium binding protein (Kbp). As part of my Integrated Master’s degree, I undertook a yearlong work placement at MultiplexDX, a biotech company, where I was responsible for research and development of molecular diagnostic tests, including detection methods for SARS-CoV-2 and Influenza viruses amid the pandemic. Now at ISTA, as a member of Martin’s Lab, my research is centered on exploring how the dynamic organization and physical characteristics of diverse protein polymer chains relate to their biological function.

Himani Khurana, Postdoc

As a biochemist, I view cells as emergent systems of a multitude of molecular interactions. Like mixing different ratios of color paints would yield unique shades; principally, mixing the right proportions of isolated biomolecules could yield reconstitution of their distinct functions. Primarily, I’m fascinated by membranes, thin phospholipid bilayers delimiting cells & organelles, that lie at the heart of cellular evolution. As part of graduate work, I explored membrane remodeling, whereas, my current work is focused towards deciphering membrane flux viz. phospholipid flow into new-forming membranes during organelle biogenesis using a combination of interdisciplinary approaches. I often indulge in painting abstracts, and trying to play the uke or keyboard in my time away from work.


Nataliia Gnyliukh (PhD student, with Jiri Friml)
Next position:

Philipp Radler (PhD student)
Next position: Postdoc, Christa Schleper, University of Vienna, Austria.

Lukasz Kowalski (Postdoc)
Next postion: Scientist, Fermify, Vienna, Austria.

Gabriel Brognora (PhD Scientist)
Next position: Core Scientist, Vienna BioCenter Core Facilities (VBCF) 

Sofía Vieto (Intern)
Next position: PhD student, Yale University, New Haven, CT, USA

Mar López-Pelegrín (Lab Manager)
Next position: Lab Manager, Barcelona, Spain

Batirtze Prats Mateu (Postdoc)
Next position: MSD, Vienna, Austria.

Christian Düllberg (Postdoc)
Next position: Scientist, Grifols Biotest, Frankfurt, Germany

Natalia Baranova (Postdoc)
Current position: Senior Postdoc, University of Vienna, Austria.

Paulo Caldas (PhD student)
Next position: Postdoc, FCT-NOVA, Lisbon, Portugal.

Isabel Schröder (Master student)
Next position: IMC University of Applied Sciences Krems, Austria.

Katrin Loibl (Technician)
Next position: ViruSure, Vienna, Austria.

Urban Bezeljak (PhD student)
Next position: Project Manager,  CO BIK,  Ajdovščina, Slovenia.

Christine Mieck (Postdoc) 
Next position: Senior Editor, Springer Nature, Berlin, Germany.

Michaela Steiner (Technician) 
Next position: PhD Program Project Manager at DKFZ German Cancer Research Center, Heidelberg, Germany.