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Lunch Pitches with Olena Rzhepishevska, Marcus Klaus and Domenique André

To encourage cross pollination of ideas between researchers from different disciplines, IceLab hosts interdisciplinary research lunches with the vision of allowing ideas to meet and mate. During the Lunch Pitch Season, the creative lunches take place at KBC every other Tuesday.

Place: KBCon Lilla Fokusrum  (KBC Focus Environment’s glass room), KBC
Time: Tuesday 2 April at 12:00.

Sign up here for a free sandwich before Monday 1 April 10:00!

First Pitcher:

Olena Rzhepishevska

Senior research engineer at the Department of Chemistry, affiliated as researcher at the Department of Clinical Microbiology, Umeå University

Title: A shadow of a biomarker – metabolomics for everybody

Olena Rzhepishevska is a senior research engineer at the Department of Chemistry and an affiliated researcher at the Department of Clinical Microbiology. Olena graduated from Mechnikov National University, Odessa, Ukraine as a specialist in microbiology and received her PhD in Molecular Biology at Umeå University. Olena is interested in microbial biofilms, antibacterial compounds and infectious diseases, in particular, tuberculosis. The chief method she uses lately in her research is metabolite analysis of microbial specimens and infection material.


Small molecules can tell big secrets. Metabolites are small organic molecules that are a part of every living creature be that a human, a plant, or a bacterium. Depending on the conditions of life (nutrition, environmental factors, diseases or genetic mutations) the composition of metabolites in an organism can somewhat change and certain metabolites can be indicative of certain conditions. Such metabolites can be used as biomarkers. I will talk about metabolites – biomarkers of infectious diseases and how they can be used for diagnostic and treatment monitoring of these diseases. But keep in mind that metabolite analysis is an exciting method to study all possible living systems as well as their products.


Second Pitcher:

Domenique André

PhD student at the Department of Forest Genetics and Plant Physiology, the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences 

Title: Winter is coming – but how does a tree know that?

Domenique comes from Germany, where she studied Biology at the Technical University of Braunschweig (BSc). During her Master at Umeå University she specialized in Plant Biology and now she is pursuing her PhD at Umeå Plant Science Centre. Domenique works in the group of Ove Nilsson at the Department of Forest Genetics and Plant Physiology, SLU. Their group is interested in the regulation of the annual growth cycle of poplar trees, and Domenique focuses her research on the function of their FLOWERING LOCUS T paralogs. In research, Domenique has successfully used the CRISPR/Cas9 technique to generate knock-out mutants of my genes of interest. She studies their response to different environmental conditions and analyses their gene expression.


Winter is coming – but how does a tree know that? Surprisingly enough the same way a flower knows when to bloom! We are working on two closely related genes that were originally discovered as major regulators of flowering time in annual plants. But by now we know that their functions exceed just that. It is very important for plants to do the right things at the right time and just like humans, plants have an internal clock that helps them keep track of time. This way they can predict the change of seasons and brace themselves.


Third Pitcher:

Marcus Klaus

Postdoctor at Department of Ecology and Environmental Sciences, Umeå University

Title: Pitching the pitch: How acoustics can advance and communicate (aquatic) science

Marcus Klaus is a Postdoc in aquatic biogeochemistry at the Department of Ecology and Environmental Sciences at Umeå University. His background is in physical geography with degrees from Umeå University and Humboldt University of Berlin, Germany. His current research focuses on the impacts of climate and land cover change on inland water ecosystems.


Most humans rely on their eyes more than on their ears – and so do most scientists. Yet, sound can be a unique source of scientific information and public curiosity. Here, I present a novel acoustic method designed to estimate air-water gas exchange rates (k) in streams and rivers. Gas exchange allows, for example, oxygen in to improve water quality and fish life, and greenhouse gases out which affects global warming. However, the magnitude and physical controls of k are poorly quantified, mainly because traditional methods to estimate k are very labor intense. With the new method, k can be estimated by spectral analysis of simple flow sound recordings by making use of the fact that both k and flow sound are controlled by the same processes: turbulence and air bubbles. The new method exemplifies the large potential of acoustics to improve our understanding and applications related to major sustainability challenges in aquatic ecology, and to communicate these to a broad audience.

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