Aarhus Universitets segl

People

In CEM we count 13 members of the academic staff ranging from research assistant to professors. At the moment, we have 4 PhD students, 3 MSc students, 2, BSc students and 4 project students. Furthermore, we have one visiting scholars and 3 members of the technical and administrative staff. Below you can read a short presentation of our members.

Academic Staff

Lars Peter Nielsen

Position: Professor, Head of Center

I have a PhD in Microbial Ecology from Aarhus University in 1989 and I have essentially worked there ever since.

My scientific interest is microbial life at the border between the oxic and the anoxic world and today it is all about cable bacteria. Before stumbling across electromicrobiology I mainly worked on filamentous sulfur bacteria, microbial nitrogen cycling, and emission of odour and greenhouse gases from agricultural environments.

I share my interests with my grandkids and enjoy family life and a few tours with the fishing rod.

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Andreas Schramm

Position: Professor, Vice Head of Center

After my Masters in Biology at the Technical University Munich, a PhD at the Max Planck Institute for Marine Microbiology, postdoc years in Bayreuth (Germany) and Seattle (WA, USA), and an assistant professorship in Bayreuth, I have been at Aarhus University since 2004.

With a background in microbial nitrogen cycling, microsensor technology, and molecular microbial ecology, I have a broad interest in aquatic microbial ecology, geomicrobiology, and (symbiotic) interactions of microbes. After the discovery of electric currents in the seafloor, I became intrigued by their “who?” and “how?” and was part of the team eventually discovering cable bacteria, which I have studied ever since.

Outside of science, I enjoy playing (and listening to) music, spending time with my family, hiking (preferably in the Alpes), as well as playing volleyball.

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Lars Riis Damgaard

Position: Researcher/academic co-worker

I have a Ph.D. degree from Aarhus University on the development and application of microsensors in microbial ecology. Before that I was Chief Scientific Officer at the microsensor company Unisense A/S.

My main focus at CEM is on technical experimental development and research, mainly within sensor techniques. Currently I am applying myself as project leader in the innovation project BIOMAP (bio.au.dk/BIOMAP) on soil pollution and cable bacteria.  

I spend my free time with my family, relaxing and walking the dog.

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Thomas Boesen

Position: Senior Scientist and Cryo-EM Facility Manager

I finished my PhD in medical microbiology at Aarhus University in 2002 and subsequently took position as Assistant Professor and later Associate Professor at Department of Molecular Biology and Genetics, Aarhus University. In 2016 I took position as Cryo-EM Facility Manager at the Interdisciplinary Nanoscience Center, Aarhus University, and I have been deeply involved in establishing a National cryo-EM Facility (EMBION) with key stakeholders from the University. This facility now harbors two high-end Titan Krios microscopes and several accessory microscopes and other EM equipment (embion.au.dk).

I have a background in molecular and structural biology and primarily use X-ray crystallography and cryo-EM for atomic structure determination of proteins. I also employ several EM methods for ultrastructural analysis of bacteria, and I have started cryo-electron tomography studies on bacteria that will employ local cryoFIB/SEM and cryoCLEM equipment for lamella production and target localization, respectively.

My focus in CEM is the biochemical, functional, and structural analysis of conductor fibres from cable bacteria involved in electron transfer and cytochromes involved in up- and downloading electrons to/from the conductor.

In my spare time I enjoy family life and hiking.

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Ian Marshall

Position: Assistant Professor

I received my PhD from Stanford University in 2012, and I have been working at Aarhus University since then.

I specialise in the sequencing and bioinformatic analysis of genomes and genes from microbes and microbial communities, and I am especially interested in the ecophysiological diversity of cable bacteria and microbes associated with cable bacteria.

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Bo Barker Jørgensen

Position: Professor

After my PhD at Aarhus University, I was first assoc. professor and then full professor at this university for fifteen years. In 1992, I became the founding director of the German Max Planck Institute for Marine Microbiology in Bremen. I returned to Aarhus University in 2007 to establish a DNRF Center for Geomicrobiology and am now a professor in the Section for Microbiology.

My research field is the biogeochemistry of marine sediments with focus on the processes and microbiology of the major element cycles. My interests include the role of the seabed in the global carbon cycle and how the energy flux in marine ecosystems controls the community size of microorganisms. I currently study cryptic methane cycling in sediments and the potential for archaea to reverse their energy metabolism between methane production and methane oxidation through electron transfer via conducting minerals.

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Mingdong Dong

Position: Professor

Mingdong Dong is Professor in the Interdisciplinary Nanoscience Center. He is applied physicist specializing in advanced surface sensitive scanning probe microscopy (SPM). He has developed several important quantitative SPM-based surface sensitive techniques to investigate electronic, mechanical, thermal, chemical, and magnetic properties in biological systems and nanomaterials, which have been critically important for a better understanding of structure-function relationship. His academic experience ranges from materials science, physical chemistry to biophysics, covers problems in life science and nanoscience, encompasses expertise in SPM. Dr. Dong has been a member of Royal Microscopical Society, ACS, MRS, Biophysical Society and Fellow of the Royal Society of Chemistry.

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Ugo Marzocchi

Position: Assistant Professor

I received my PhD at Aarhus University and then worked as a postdoc at Brussels University, University of Southern Denmark, and Stazione Zoologica Anton Dorhn.

My research focuses on the main factors that regulate macronutrients cycling in benthic systems. I am particularly fascinated by the activity of electro-active bacteria, among which cable bacteria. My work on this topic covers different aspects spanning between their metabolism, geochemical impact, diversity, and lastly, on how microbially-mediated currents can be applied to stimulate degradation and trapping of contaminants.

I address these topics primarily by applying isotopic tracers and sensing techniques such as microelectrodes and optodes.

My personal interests include diving, reading, music, and hang out with friends.

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Joshua Atkinson

Position: NSF Postdoctoral Fellow

I am a visiting NSF Postdoctoral Fellow from the University of Southern California. I obtained my PhD in Systems, Synthetic, and Physical Biology from Rice University in 2019.

My scientific interests focus on using protein engineering, synthetic biology, and electrochemical approaches to study and control microbial electron transport and metabolism. My PhD work focused on engineering protein switches to regulate electron transfer and sulfur metabolism in Escherichia coli. We then used these protein switches to build living electronic sensors that report on the presence of chemicals in aquatic environments.

While at CEM, I am focusing on studying how multicellular communities can evolve to energetically couple distinct metabolic reactions using long-distance electron transfer and what machinery enable this metabolic cooperation.

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Julia Otte

Position: Postdoc

After finishing my PhD at the University of Tübingen in 2018, I have been a postdoc at the HGF-MPG group for Deep-sea Ecology and Technology at AWI in Bremerhaven and MPI in Bremen. The main focus of my research is on the biogeochemical iron and manganese cycle and on diverse connections with other element cycles, such as C and N. In addition, I am particularly fascinated by microbial communities, microbe-microbe interactions and electro-active bacteria such as cable bacteria.  

Now I am a postdoc working in a lake restauration project in cooperation with the company Söll GmbH (Germany). Together with M.Sc. and B.Sc. students, we want to explore the interplay between sludge removal, the application of CaO2, and electro-active microorganisms in brackish and freshwater systems. The investigated fields include Schlei in Schleswig-Holstein, Burggraben in Schleswig-Holstein, and Mühlenteich in Niedersachen, Germany and we will hopefully discover the role of cable bacteria in surface water restoration.  

My personal interests include enjoying the nature by hiking, biking and photography, being creative by drawing, painting and baking and exploring the places where I live. 

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Robin Bonné

Position: Postdoc

After getting my Master's degree in Physics and a Teacher's degree At Ghent University (Belgium), I searched for a way to combine physics with my other love for biology. I found the perfect PhD in biophysics at Hasselt University (Belgium) on the electrical and structural properties of cable bacteria.

Still my hunger for understanding the true nature of these creatures was not satisfied. After a short break as a maths teacher in high school, I started as a postdoc at CEM. In more electrical experiments, I will try to help unravel the fundamental electron transport mechanism in cable bacteria.

Outside of the lab you can find me travelling and exploring, playing music or performing improv theatre. On high days you will have a better chance of finding me in a couch with a cat on my lap.

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Kartik Ayier

Position: Postdoc

I completed my PhD in 2019 from the Sri Sathya Sai Institute of Higher Learning in India, followed by a postdoctoral stint at the Indian Institute of Technology at New Delhi. My research was on the fundamental and applied aspects of electroactive bacteria. I specialized in using bioelectrochemical systems for studying electron transfer mechanisms for applications like wastewater treatment, biosensing and resource recovery. My interest in cable bacteria lead me to the Center for Electromicrobiology in Aarhus University, where I will be studying their physiology. 

Aside from research, I love writing, running, yoga and meditation.

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Vincent Scholz

Position: Postdoc

I studied Water Science at the University of Duisburg-Essen, which taught me about water-related processes at the interface of chemistry and microbiology. Then, during my Master´s project here at CEM, I have started to really like my project about cable bacteria around plant roots, the research environment, and the leisure activities I can do outside of university, such as sailing and surfing – and that is what I am still doing.

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Lasse Hyldgaard Klausen

Position: Postdoc

I received my PhD in nanoscience in 2016 from Aarhus University. Since then, I worked as postdoc at Copenhagen University and Stanford University before recently returning to Aarhus.

My research focuses on scanning probe microscopy and single-cell biophysics. I work at the interdisciplinary edge of nanoscience, biophysics and engineering, where I apply a combination of scanning probe, nanofabrication and molecular biology techniques.

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Richard Valli

Position: Field Assistant

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PhD Students

Bo Wang

Position: PhD student

I earned an Engineering Bachelor’s degree with distinction in Environmental Engineering in 2017 and in 2020 I gained a Double Master’s Degrees in Environmental Science and Engineering with distinction granted by the two renowned universities: University of Copenhagen (KU) and Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS). My master’s specialization is Water and Environment and Environmental Biotechnology.

In my current PhD study at CEM I focus on protein biochemistry in cable bacteria.

In my spare time I detach myself from science doing my favorite sports volleyball and badminton and meeting with people with diverse backgrounds to help me away from the depression.

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Yi Ouyang

Position: PhD student

I received my Master´s degree from University of Chinese Academy of Sciences in 2020. My master thesis focuses on the study of synthesis and application of two-dimensional materials.

In 2022, I came to Aarhus University for my PhD.

My current research focuses on the application of scanning probe microscopy for two-dimensional materials based electrocatalytic devices.

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Yuge Zhang

Position: PhD student

I received my Master’s degree (2018-2021) from physical chemistry in Shandong University. My master thesis focuses on the study of nanofriction properties of 2D materials using AFM.

Currently, I investigate the conduction mechanism of cable bacterial via up-to date and in-situ SPM techniques including SECM and Fluid FM.

In my spare time, I am really into listening Chinese Gufeng music and playing badminton.

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Yuqing Wang

Position: PhD student

In 2016, I obtained my Master’s degree in Chemical Engineering and Technology at Hunan University. Right after that, I came to Aarhus University for my PhD, enrolling in nanoscience at the Interdisciplinary Nanoscience Center. My current research focuses on in situ studying the structural and electrical properties of low-dimensional synthetic and natural nanomaterials using scanning probe microscopy and exploring their potential applications in energy storage/conversion techniques and electronic devices.

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Jamie Lustermans

Position: PhD student

After 1.5 years in 2017 I graduated my MSc. in Biology specialized in Microbiology from the Radboud University in Nijmegen, The Netherlands. During my studies I spent 8 months researching ammonium oxidizing archaea and their partnerships with heterotrophs at DOME in Vienna and an additional 7 months in Nijmegen about comparative genomics of comammox and Nitrospira and additionally the localization of an NXR protein through EM.

From there I spend a year teaching students, setting up and managing 2 administrative projects at the same faculty of Science while interning at the microbiology department to do more Electron Microscopy.
I ended up in Aarhus in 2018 where I am working on my PhD with the exciting topic of cable bacteria, and whether they exchange electrons with the surrounding (natural) bacterial community.

For relaxing purposes I watch series, movies, read books and hike like a normal person, and in every other way I am creatively crazy enough to draw, paint, cook/bake and photograph. When I can detach myself from my beloved bacteria, I love travelling to experience more of the world, but Corona kind of killed that for now.

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Alexis Fonseca

Position: PhD student

I am a marine biologist, with a Master's degree in Biochemistry and Bioinformatics (2016) from the University of Concepción, Chile, doing my thesis on the identification of biosynthetic gene clusters in two uncultivated marine bacterial genomes, a filamentous bacteria and a spirochaete, collected from anoxic sediments in Chile.

Currently my project at CEM consists of studying the presence of cable bacteria in the sulfidic system along the Chilean coast. In this connection, my main interests are the ecological, genomics, evolutionary, and genomic aspects mixing experimental and bioinformatic approaches.

Outside of work I really enjoy listening to music (from folk to all styles of metal), I watch movies (especially thrillers and science fiction), I walk, everything related to football, and sometimes I try to read a book without feeling guilty because instead, I could be reading a paper :)

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Ann-Sofie Dam

Position: PhD student 

I studied Biology at Aarhus University from 2014-2019. I did both my Bachelor’s project and Master’s thesis at CEM. In my Master’s thesis I found that salinity affected cable bacteria diversity and species composition. In my PhD project I intend to broaden the understanding of the environmental effects on the physiology and the evolutionary process of cable bacteria.   

My outside work activities include long walks on the beach and I like puppies but I don’t like cold coffee. I also like to make jokes and maybe that’s why I spend a lot of time alone. 

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Leonid Digel

Position: PhD student 

I received my BSc degree in Biotechnology at Kazakh National University in 2019. In 2020 I obtained my Master’s degree in Applied Blue Biotechnology from the University of La Rochelle. Right after that I came to Aarhus University to study cable bacteria for my PhD.

I have been and still am interested in different fields of the life sciences, however, I guess that my love for microbiology is mutual. Now, I focus on the structures and mechanisms which allow cable bacteria to perform Long Distance Electron Transfer.

Outside of working hours I all the same stand next to a table either playing tennis or board games. 

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Sebastian Amland Skånvik

Position: PhD student

I’m an electrochemist with a bachelor’s degree from University of Bergen, Norway and a master’s degree from McGill University, Canada. I’m currently carrying out my PhD studies under the supervision of Professor Mingdong Dong at iNANO, Aarhus University.  

My main research interest is the development and application of electrochemical scanning probe methods. I’m currently working on the implementation of scanning electrochemical microscopy for understanding the mechanism and function of the electron transfer properties of the cable bacteria.  We use small electrodes (<25um) for studying the electrochemical properties of cable bacteria under biological relevant conditions. 

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Mostafa Salehirozveh

Position: Marie-Currie Fellow of the Sentinel ITN network

My focus is on characterizing the surface charge, size of the cells, cell junctions, and defects of the Cable bacteria by Micropore-based RPS at CEM. Micropores are integrated with a Microscope to control and monitor the translocation of cable bacteria. The single cable bacteria is kept between two chambers to discover the mechanism of electron transfer.

I am currently working on the characterization of Polymer-DNA by Silicon Nitride nanopores a work that is carried out in the lab of Professor Mingdong Dong at the Interdisciplinary Nanoscience Center.

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Undergraduate Students

Vanessa Fiess

Position: BSc student

I am a Bachelor’s degree student in Biotechnology at Offenburg University in Germany. From September this year until February next year I will stay in Aarhus absolving my practical semester at CEM. I am very interested in the different fields of microbiology and the research on cable bacteria.

In my spare time I enjoy doing sports, singing and playing the tenorhorn. Being with friends and spending time in the nature makes me happy. I am excited to explore Aarhus and to connect with new people.

Lea Plum-Jensen

Position: MSc student

I am a Master’s degree student at Biology and the Section of Microbiology. I am doing a biology project at the Center for Electromicrobiology (CEM), where I study different methods of DNA extraction, separation, purification, and sequencing of cable bacteria genomes to get the best method for whole-genome sequencing. The project will lead up to my master thesis, where I will also work with cable bacteria.

My spare time is mostly dedicated to taking care of my family (husband and two sons), but I also enjoy reading, knitting, and playing poker.

Theresa Hagen Van

Position: BSc student

I am a Bachelor's degree student in molecular biology at the Department of Molecular Biology and Genetics. In my Bachelor's project, I will investigate if cable bacteria alter the efficiency of CaO2's ability to degrade sludge in marine sediment.

In my spare time I enjoy listening to music, embroider cross stitches, and playing Playstation.

Nikoline Madsen

Position: MSc student

I am a Master’s student studying molecular biology at Aarhus University’s Department of Molecular Biology and Genetics. My project with CEM focuses on characterization of cable bacteria cytochromes, which are potentially involved in the reduction of the terminal electron acceptors.

My spare time is mostly spent socializing with friends and family or relaxing at home while reading or making paper crafts. When time allows it, I also enjoy travelling and experiencing different cultures, art and nature.

Technical and Administrative Staff

Else Magård

Position: Center Manager

I took over as Center Manager at CEM August 2022. I have a Master’s degree in Biology from Aarhus University from 1999 and since then I have been working with management and research support in various academic fields e.g. Computer Science, Biology, Molecular Biology, and Biomedicin and in a diversity of settings e.g. at Aarhus University and in The Amazonian forest.

I enjoy providing support to individual researchers as well as to facilitate the general work aspects of an ambitious research center such as collaboration coordination, outreach, administration, reporting etc. etc.  

My spare time activities include nature exploring in all forms e.g., walking, sailing, running, cycling, all year swimming etc. Also, happiness comes in many forms however being with friends and family is especially important.

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Jesper Lundsgaard Wulff

Position: Laboratory Technician

I am a laboratory technician graduated with a Profession Bachelor degree in laboratory technology from University College Copenhagen. I have previous experience working with biochemical and molecular biology assays from working at Institute of Biochemistry II, Frankfurt am Main.

My current responsibilities at CEM consist of taking care of cable bacteria cultivation, the microscopes of the center and the clean lab.

In my free time, I like to brew my own beer, spend time with my family and do fitness.

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Pia Bomholt Jensen

Position: Laboratory Technician

I have been working as a lab technician at Aarhus University for many years. I started at Department of Chemistry, then went to Department of Physics and Astronomy and the last 10 years I have been at iNANO. My areas of work has been very diverse, ranging from synthesis of superconductors to solar cells and analysis of biological material, using high technological equipment as electron microscopy as TEM and SEM. 

My current work at CEM consists of ultrastructural analysis of cable bacteria as well as their conductive fibers using TEM and SEM. I am also involved in development of conductive fiber extraction methods to enable studies of fiber conductivity and the underlying molecular structure.

My interests are all about family and nature. I spent a lot of time in my orangery, growing exotic fruits and flowers. I spend my holidays in the Alps in Austria, where I either ski or hike in the mountains.

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