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30 under 30: Listening to Nerve Cells' Chatter

Meet Simone Mayer, one of the promising young chemists attending the 2013 Lindau Nobel Laureate Meeting



Courtesy of Simone Mayer

Each year hundreds of the best and brightest researchers gather in Lindau, Germany, for the 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 23rd in a series of 30.

23
Name: Simone Mayer
Age: 26
Born: Heilbronn, Germany
Nationality: Germany
Current position: PhD student at the Max Planck Institute of Experimental Medicine in Göttingen, Germany
Education: BA (Honors) and MA in Natural Sciences from University of Cambridge, U.K.; MS in Molecular Biology from University of Göttingen, Germany

What is your field of research?
I am working in the field of molecular neurobiology. Using biochemical methods, I study how nerve cells communicate at synapses in the mammalian brain. In particular, I am interested in understanding how neurotransmitter receptors are trafficked to and maintained at inhibitory synapses.

What drew you to chemistry, and to that research area in particular?
I have always been fascinated by the dynamic interplay of biomolecules, which can cooperatively achieve many complex tasks, such as brain function in mammals.

What do you find most interesting in your field?
The real mystery that intrigues me is how information encoded in the genome can be used dynamically to create different species or organism and cell types within the same organism. One extreme example of such a use of information is in the human brain. It is undoubtedly one of the most complex systems, where millions of synapses provide the cellular and molecular framework for processes such as learning and memory.

Who are your scientific heroes?
I am always excited to hear and read about the career paths of scientists. Their careers are often marked by long periods devoid of success, but perseverance can eventually pay off with breakthroughs in our understanding of life. For example, reading about Marie Curie's life has been inspirational for me.

What activities outside of chemistry do you most enjoy?
I love to share my enthusiasm for science with the wider public. In the past I have volunteered in science lessons at a primary school, given scientific talks to the general public and been in charge of public relations for a scientific conference organized by PhD students.

What do you hope to gain from this year's Lindau meeting?
I enjoy sharing my passion for science with other scientists and believe this meeting is instrumental for generating new ideas for my own research. I also appreciate the opportunity to get to know people from different nationalities, since this can provide interesting insights into one's own cultural background. I hope to find an inspiring atmosphere created by the wide scope of backgrounds and topics. I am particularly excited to get to know some of the leaders in different areas of biological chemistry who laid the foundation for methods I apply in the lab on a daily basis.


Are there any Nobelists whom you are particularly excited to meet?
I am excited to meet Harald zur Hausen, because of his significant contribution to research in his field and how he rapidly translated his findings to an application: the successful development of a vaccine against HPV. As I am working on basic science, this finding is encouraging. It gives me the hope that in the not too distant future my findings might affect peoples' lives directly.

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22. Marco Jost
30 Under 30:
Lindau Nobel Laureate Meeting
Next »
24. Tomasz Kaminski

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