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When Elisa Arthofer finished her PhD in early 2017, some might have expected her to pursue her passion for travel. After all, during Gymnasium, she had spent time with a host family in Australia, later returning to Australia for six months while working on her bachelor’s degree. Even her PhD program was an international collaboration between Sweden’s Karolinska Institute and the US National Institutes of Health. Yet Arthofer – who, while growing up in St. Ulrich bei Steyr, “didn’t care too much for the natural sciences” and had “always wanted to become a lawyer” – segued directly into post-doctoral research. And she clearly finds her current career fascinating. “Even after many years of working with cells in the lab … I really really enjoy looking at these cells under the microscope, every single day.”

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Mention “mutated DNA” to non-scientists and they’ll think of something harmful, genetic errors to be avoided at all costs. Mention “mutated DNA” to geneticists, and the reaction may be quite different, especially since the advent of CRISPR. This new genome-editing tool lets researchers modify the base sequence of DNA at very precise locations – essentially, producing tailor-made mutations – even in living organisms! Michaela Willi and her colleagues, for example, use CRISPR to generate mice with mutations in a super-enhancer that controls activity of a gene in mammary gland cells.

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“I’m an MRI scientist with physics training, which is very helpful to advance MRI,” explains Alexander Rauscher. Growing up in Salzburg, Rauscher’s interest in medicine was triggered by his civilian service work as a nurse in a Salzburg hospital. Combine that with his academic training in engineering physics, a large dash of neuroscience, and a solid grasp of signal processing, and you end up with a 2015 recipient of the Canada Research Chair (CRC) Tier II award in Developmental Neuroimaging! You also get an ARIT poster that highlights several facets of Rauscher’s recent work with magnetic resonance imaging (MRI).

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When the pilots let Tobias Niederwieser sit in the cockpit as the plane approached Vienna, they didn’t know that the experience would change the 8-year old’s life! Seventeen years later, Niederwieser has a private pilot certificate and is pursuing his PhD in Aerospace Engineering Sciences at the University of Colorado, Boulder! And his fascination with flying now extends far beyond the Earth’s atmosphere: “First impressed by planes, that interest moved over to human spaceflight,” he says of himself.

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“In school, I was always looking for alternative solutions for mathematical or physical problems,” Philipp Haslinger (Recipient of the 2016 ASCINA Young Scientist Award) says, adding: “My teachers were not always very amused!” It’s likely that his childhood teachers in Großkrut, Lower Austria, would be impressed by his current pursuit of alternative solutions, as Haslinger applies his ingenuity to improving the measurement of tiny forces using atomic interferometry.

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