In 2015, Cyrille Thinnes was featured in our campaign ‘Spotlight on Young Researchers’, which highlighted early-career researchers with a connection to Luxembourg. At the time, Cyrille was at the University of Oxford doing a DPhil (PhD) in chemical biology. One year on, we caught up with Cyrille!
Cyrille’s DPhil (Oxford term for PhD), which was funded by Cancer Research UK, included work on compounds called ‘8-hydroxyquinolines’. One of the compounds deactivates a protein involved in epigenetics and can be used as a tool compound for studies in physiology.
For example, one of the experiments conducted with the compound showed the death of lung cancer cells – but not normal lung cells – from the same patient, upon treatment with Cyrille’s compound, which has also been used by several collaborators for biochemical, biological, and physiological investigations.
8-hydroxyquinolines + UV light = artwork!
“While monitoring one of my reactions in the chemical synthesis lab, I noticed that my product was highly fluorescent under UV light. As I was working on the 8-hydroxyquinolines compounds at that time, I felt inspired to display 8-hydroxyquinoline as fluorescent artwork: I soaked tiny capillary glass tubes with my fluorescent compound, assembled them into the chemical structure of 8-hydroxyquinoline, and switched on the UV bulb!”
Boosting business skills
While working on his DPhil in chemical biology, Cyrille had the invaluable chance to attend Saïd Business School for a one-year course in strategy and innovation, along with the MBA students, which provided him with highly useful skills – and sparked an interest in business as Cyrille explains:
“During this time I started developing and nurturing my interests in management, and business in general.”
One year on – return to Luxembourg!
After completing his DPhil, Cyrille – a Luxembourg national – decided to return to the Grand Duchy, where he in March 2016 took up the role of Science Programme Manager for the NCER Parkinson’s disease study – an ideal role as Cyrille points out:
“Remaining a scientist at heart, my idea of an ‘ideal job’ was to build upon my scientific skills in a biomedical setting, in a management role. And then an advert for ‘Science Programme Manager’ popped up on my radar, a position which I am very fond of having been offered. The fact that this position is based in my home country was somewhat of a ‘cherry on top’.”
Excessive use of fertilisers in agriculture has led to nitrogen pollution, and calls for bio substitutes are getting louder. PhD candidate Bella Tsachidou from Luxembourg Institute of Science and Technology (LIST) gathers scientific evidence on the benefits of biogas residues and their suitability as biofertilisers, while providing support for the modification of nitrogen-policies on European and global level.
In the current situation of legal uncertainty, PhD candidate Antonio Ancora’s research at the University of Luxembourg aims to improve tax certainty in the context of state aid investigation on Transfer Pricing transactions among multinational enterprises.
Paul Johanns works in a research field one does not read about every day: knots. As part of his AFR PhD at the École polytechnique fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL), the Luxembourg national combines high-precision model experiments, computation and theory to untangle the influence of topology on the mechanics of complex knots, particularly those used in surgical procedures.
Eating disorders affect up to 5% of people. At the University of Luxembourg, Dr Annika Lutz and Lynn Erpelding study the brain mechanisms that help form body image, and want to understand how eating disorders develop. Using a multidimensional approach, the team’s ultimate goal is to improve treatment for people suffering from eating disorders, such as anorexia nervosa.
Growing up in Botswana and Zimbabwe, Nathasia Mudiwa Muwanigwa did not see science as a career option. Fast forward a few years: Nathasia is studying Parkinson’s disease as part of her PhD at the LCSB at the University of Luxembourg, and has co-founded a STEM initiative that was featured in Forbes.
Industry and research join forces on many fronts, including the sustainable use of natural resources. As part of his Industrial Fellowship between the Luxembourg Institute of Science and Technology (LIST) and land use company Luxplan, Postdoc Claudio Petucco works on developing a decision support system for enhancing and assessing the provision of forest ecosystem services.
Noémie Catherine Engel has just begun her researcher journey – and she has found her niche already: As part of her AFR PhD at the University of Bath, the Luxembourg national investigates the evolution of sex role traits in a small shorebird species in Cape Verde.
Are creative people better at regulating emotions, and are there cultural differences? This is one of the questions Henderika (Herie) de Vries wants to answer. Having already discovered that cultural differences impact the creative potential of children, the Dutch-Luxembourgish national hopes to understand more aspects of how our cultural circumstances can influence our capacity for creative thinking.
Climate change affects vegetation and water resources. In order to understand these changes, scientists use models – an abstract, mathematical representation of an ecological system. The challenge: Making accurate predictions under change, without ‘tuning’ models with data. We speak to Dutch national Remko Nijzink, Postdoc in the group of FNR ATTRACT Fellow Dr. Stan Schymanski at the Luxembourg Institute of Science and Technology (LIST), about his modelling work and the importance of an open science approach.
In school, we are taught three states of matter: solid, liquid and gas. The focus of University of Luxembourg PhD candidate Anjali Sharma’s research lies between solid and liquid: liquid crystal. She studies them in unusual shapes that are no larger than the width of a human hair, yet they are considered as large by the scientists of the field. As part of her research, the Indian national got an opportunity for a rare experiment: Taking her research into a zero gravity environment.