Liselotte Jauffred is Associate Professor at the Biocomplexity section at the Niels Bohr Institute, University of Copenhagen.

Chairwoman of KIF, Maren Malling, conducted this short interview with Liselotte Jauffred

Congratulations on receiving a Sapere Aude Starting Grant 2020!

Thanks! I also got the Inge Lehmann Grant*, so I am very happy 😊

Please tell us about your research and why is it important

We usually think of evolution in microbes as something that happens in a homogeneous solution in a test tube. However, in nature, microbes live in colonies, which are small gated communities with a complex internal organization. For fast adaptation to new environmental conditions, these communities are characterized by a high level of gene transfers between individuals. Primarily, from mother to daughter cells but also directly between individual bacteria. Therefore, we need to unravel the interplay between spatial organization and promiscuous gene transfer. My aim is to construct a model of how genetics, mechanics, and stochastic variations orchestra the transmittance of antibiotic resistance genes through bacterial colonies. With a combination of 3D microscopy and mathematical modeling, I will determine the key parameters to explore new anti-spreading strategies.

What are your plans and what possibilities do this grant open for you?

I am incredibly grateful. I now have the possibility to strengthen my research and I am looking forward to work with even more talented and curios young people in the lab.

Where have you studied and which positions have you held before your current one?

I graduated back in the last century from Køge Gymnasium and studied Physics at the Niels Bohr Institute, the same place as I am now conducting my research today. In the meantime, I have been exchanging and postdoc’ing at ELTE in Budapest, IMTEK in Freiburg, AMOLF in Amsterdam, and NanoLund.

What motivated you to study physics?

I think my interest in nature and my eagerness to put the world into a simple framework goes further back than I remember. However, the first manifest decision of studying Physics arose when my enthusiastic high-school Physics teacher, Werner Switon, interrupted the last class before summer to award me a book: Der Teil und das Ganze – in a Danish interpretation of course – by Werner Heisenberg. The ceremony itself was slightly unpleasant, but the book and the implicit encouragement fixed my direction! I read this intimate description of the thoughts and research that gave rise to the Copenhagen school over the summer and came back to my last year of high-school certain that I wanted to pursue a life in and with Physics.

What advise would you give to young people (in particular women and minorities) who would like to pursue a career in science?

Believe in yourself and only work with nice people! This last advice was given to me at a point where I found my situation very difficult and it turned out to be easy and very enjoyable to follow.

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*The Inge Lehmann program is an initiative under Independent Research Fund Denmark which aims to strengthen the talent development within Danish research by promoting a more even gender ratio. Read more about the program here. https://dff.dk/en/application/funding-instruments/dff-call-inge-lehmann-2020_eng-1.pdf