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30 under 30: Studying How the Body Uses Vitamins

Meet Marco Jost, one of the promising young chemists attending the 2013 Lindau Nobel Laureate Meeting



Courtesy of Marco Jost

Each year hundreds of the best and brightest researchers gather in Lindau, Germany, for the Nobel Laureate Meeting. There, the newest generation of scientists mingles with Nobel Prize winners and discusses their work and ideas. The 2013 meeting is dedicated to chemistry and will involve young researchers from 78 different countries. In anticipation of the event, which will take place from June 30 through July 5, we are highlighting a group of attendees under 30 who represent the future of chemistry. The following profile is the 22nd in a series of 30.

22
Name: Marco Jost
Age: 25
Born: Princeton, N.J.
Nationality: U.S.
Current position: PhD student in the Department of Chemistry at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Cambridge, Mass.
Education: Diploma in Biochemistry from the University of Tübingen, Germany

What is your field of research?
My research is focused on the role of transition metals in living systems, more specifically on characterizing metalloproteins structurally and chemically by x-ray crystallography, spectroscopic techniques and other methods. Currently, I study proteins that use vitamin B12 and its derivatives to perform different functions.

What drew you to chemistry, and to that research area in particular?
I was initially drawn to chemistry and biochemistry when I was learning about all the different metabolic processes in living systems. The logic and complexity of these processes fascinated me, and still does. During my studies, I became interested both in metals in life because of their diverse chemistry and in protein structures because of their intricate architecture. These interests took me toward my current area of research.

Where do you see yourself in 10 years?
In 10 years, I hope I am still a researcher or leading my own research group, and I hope to continue working somewhere in biological or bioinorganic chemistry. Outside of those possibilities, I am open-minded. There are so many interesting research subjects out there. Most of all, I hope to still feel the same excitement about science and discovery that I feel now.

Who are your scientific heroes?
There are some names that come to mind, but generally my scientific heroes are the scientists who have dedicated their entire lives to science and teaching and who inspire younger generations through excellence, rigor, and devotion.

What is your dream study or experiment? If you had unlimited resources, what kind of research would you conduct?
If I had unlimited resources, I would probably try to tackle a large-scale problem such as advancing single molecule diffraction methods for protein structure determination, characterizing the dynamics and diffusion of cellular metabolites and proteins, or probing the rich chemistry of the brain.

What activities outside of chemistry do you most enjoy?
In my free time, I enjoy playing soccer and volleyball, cycling and cheering for the German national soccer team.

What do you hope to gain from this year's Lindau meeting?
I applied to the Lindau meeting for the prospect of discussions with both the scientists who defined the field of chemistry and the young fellow researchers from around the globe. I look forward to hearing the Nobelists' opinions on the role of chemistry in addressing global challenges and in benefitting society in the 21st century. I also look forward to connecting with peers and hearing about their backgrounds and research. Ultimately, I seek to gain inspiration for my own future career from this experience.

Are there any Nobelists whom you are particularly excited to meet?
Because my research lies in the field of protein crystallography, I am excited to meet Ada Yonath, Brian Kobilka, Robert Huber, and Hartmut Michel, four chemists who received their Nobel prizes for work in protein crystallography. I am also excited to meet Steven Chu because I am curious about his experience as the U.S. Secretary of Energy; Paul Crutzen and Mario Molina, who essentially saved the earth from a catastrophe; and Jose Ramos-Horta because of his tremendous political career. But overall, I am looking forward to meeting every one of the Nobel laureates because I am sure each has a unique story to tell.

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21. David Liptrot
30 Under 30:
Lindau Nobel Laureate Meeting
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23. Simone Mayer

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