Outstanding postdoc applicants and students interested in doing a PhD, Master's or Bachelor's project in my group are welcome to get in touch with me at berenike.maier(at)uni-koeln.de.
Examples of MSc or BSc projects include
Open Position - Master and Bachelor Thesis in Experimental Biophysics - Cell dynamics of aggregated bacteria
Many bacterial species self- organize into biofilms. Biofilms are often associated with persistent diseases owing to the fact that they are resilient to immune surveillance and antibiotic treatment. We aim at better understanding the physical principles that underlie this resilience. How do molecular interaction forces govern biofilm structure and dynamics? Recent experiments revealed that early biofilms have many properties of fluids. How do bacteria tune structure and dynamics to increase their chance of survival in the presence of external stress?
A current challenge in the field is to track the dynamics of each single cell within biofilms consisting of thousands or even millions of cells. We employ an interdisciplinary approach combining methods from biophysics (advance image analysis, advanced light microscopy) with methods from microbiology and biochemistry. In this specific project, you will employ spinning disc confocal microscopy to image early biofilms. For a Master thesis, you will first create an image processing pipeline which will allow to determine the trajectories of the cells (for spherical and rod-shaped bacteria) within the colony starting from the recorded images. From these trajectories, the main dynamical parameter (e.g. their velocity) will be extracted. Furthermore, you will address questions like: How does the colony dynamic change under different stress conditions including antibiotic treatment?. What are the possible benefits for the bacteria when they change their interaction forces? Which physical models can be used and adjusted to explain these dynamics? For a Bachelor thesis, we are especially interested in tracking and analyzing dead cells (stained separately) within the aggregate. Here, you might adress questions like: How does the dynamic of inactive (dead) cells differ from the dynamic of living ones? Does the relative position of dead cells differ from the position of actively retracting cells?
Supervisors: Prof. Dr. Berenike Maier / Dr. Marc Hennes