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30 under 30: Using Insights from Physics to Develop New Tools for Cell Biology

Meet Sigrid Milles, 26, one of the up-and-coming physicists attending this year's Lindau Nobel Laureate Meeting



Image courtesy of Sigrid Milles

The annual Lindau Nobel Laureate Meeting brings a wealth of scientific minds to the shores of Germany’s Lake Constance. Every summer at Lindau, dozens of Nobel Prize winners exchange ideas with hundreds of young researchers from around the world. Whereas the Nobelists are the marquee names, the younger contingent is an accomplished group in its own right. In advance of this year’s meeting, which focuses on physics, we are profiling several promising attendees under the age of 30. The profile below is the 27th in a series of 30.

Name: Sigrid Milles
Age: 26
Born: Schwabach, Germany
Nationality: German

Current position: Ph.D. student at EMBL Heidelberg
Education: Diplom Biophysicist, Humboldt University of Berlin

What is your field of research?
My core interest lies in the development of single-molecule fluorescence tools to study the molecular function of disordered proteins, which regulate access to the genetic material of the cell.

What drew you to physics, and to that research area in particular?
Discovering the mechanisms of how nature works is fascinating and drives my motivation to do science. I deeply enjoy utilizing tools and knowledge from different fields to further develop new techniques and ideas and apply them to scientific problems. This is why I chose to study and pursue a PhD project in the area of biophysics, which unifies biology, chemistry, computer sciences, and mathematics with a major focus on physics.

Where do you see yourself in 10 years?
Fueled by my wish to actively contribute to the advancement of science, I aim to pursue a research career at the interface of physics and biology. Working in science means to me constant exchange with peers and constant learning and training, and I would like to keep working in an environment were these principles are manifested in the work ethics.

Who are your scientific heroes?
I am impressed by scientists who bring along a lot of enthusiasm for their research and who can convey their research to others and why they are excited about it. Thus, there are characteristics rather than a specific person that are an example to me.

What activities outside of physics do you most enjoy?
Outside research, I do a lot of sports, such as climbing, running, or inline skating and I like reading, painting and dancing.

What do you hope to gain from this year’s Lindau meeting?
During my PhD in an interdisciplinary environment at the EMBL I learned that not only practically performing research, but also scientific exchange is essential for the development of new and innovative ideas. Coming from a biophysics background with a strong interest in physics, the 62nd Lindau meeting of Nobel Laureates is an exemplary meeting for scientific exchange between young scientists and the leading researchers from different areas of physics. The opportunity to participate at this unique event is thus of great scientific and personal value for me. I am also convinced that this experience will be of long term benefit for my personal and professional future development.

Are there any Nobelists whom you are particularly excited to meet or learn from at Lindau?
I am particularly interested to meet and learn from Prof. Dr. Erwin Neher. Among the other Nobel Laureates that attend the 62nd Lindau meeting, he invented single molecule biophysics, which is particularly interesting for me. Since I am working in the area of structural biology, I would also be very much interested in meeting Prof. Dr. Hartmut Michel and Prof. Dr. h.c. mult Kurt Wüthrich, both structural biologists.

« Previous
26. Tansu Daylan
30 Under 30:
Lindau Nobel Laureate Meeting
Next »
28. Jonathan Welch

 

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