Did you know that nearly a tenth of our 1000+ Zurich based alumni work at either ETH or UZH? What scientific research are the current PhD-candidates among them involved with and excited about?
Meet the next generation of potential global changemakers on Wednesday September 27th during a special lunch edition DEAN* alumni gathering in Zurich at the ETH Alumni Pavilion. This will be a great opportunity to network with fellow 4TU alumni over lunch while also hearing short pitches from a lineup of young alumni researchers in the early stages of their careers who will be rotating between the tables. See the bottom of this page for further details about our talented researchers!
This event is free for alumni from the Dutch Technical Universities but for logistical reasons, prior registration is required via this online form (Registration is being handled by the TU Delft Alumni Office).
Date: Wednesday September 27th 2023
Time: 12:00PM to 2:00PM
Location: Alumni Pavillon (GEP), ETH Zurich**
12:00PM – 12:30PM, Arrival
12:30PM – 12:40PM, Welcome words by your TU's
12:40PM - 1:40PM, Pitches by alumni reseachers (4 rotations)
1:40PM – 1:50PM, Summary
I am Marijn Ceelen and I studied Biotechnology at Wageningen University. There I did my bachelor thesis on the effect of recombination on antibiotic resistance evolution in E. coli. During my masters I participated in the iGEM synthetic biology competition (2019) together with a team of students. We managed to win the second prize with our project on a cure for plant pathogen Xylella fastidiosa. Lastly, I went to the Fineran Lab in Dunedin, New Zealand, for half a year to work on regulation of anti-CRISPR expression in a bacteriophage. The main topic of my PhD research is the effect of Horizontal Gene Transfer on the evolution of bacterial predator Myxoccocus xanthus. I am investigating this by supplying M. xanthus with a library of foreign DNA and then experimentally evolving it on a library of prey bacteria. Additionally, I am interested in investigating the history of HGT in M. xanthus with bioinformatics. The aim is to increase our understanding of the evolutionary history of M. xanthus. Additionally, this approach could be used to develop a strain for biological control of plant pests.
Floor van Donkelaar (alumna UT), UZH
I'm Floor van Donkelaar, a computational astrophysicist currently residing in Zürich. I'm pursuing my PhD at the University of Zürich, where I'm deeply intrigued by the fascinating world of galaxy formation and evolution, with a particular focus on late-type galaxies like our own Milky Way. In my research, I strive to gain a clearer understanding of these processes by delving into various aspects of galactic structures. This includes investigating phenomena such as stellar clusters, intermediate mass black holes, stellar migration, disc formation, gas accretion, and much more. My ultimate goal is to unravel some of the secrets hidden within the vast realms of galaxies. My academic journey led me to Switzerland following the completion of my master's degree in astrophysics at Lund University in Sweden (and could say I love the countries starting with "Sw") and my bachelor’s in sociotechnical engineering at the University of Twente.
Ana Nap (alumna TU Delft), UZH
My name is Ana Nap and following my bachelor's degree in Earth Science in Utrecht, I sought a more applied master's program focused on geophysics. Which is how I, quite logically you might say, ended up at the master Applied Geophysics, a joint master’s degree between the TU Delft, ETH Zürich and RWTH Aachen. During this master, I discovered my interest for seismology and also got more interested in utilizing geophysics for climate science and the energy transition, rather than traditional exploration. In 2020, I wrote my thesis at ETH Zürich, where I researched a novel measurement technique called Distributed Acoustic Sensing, which uses fiber optic cables as seismic sensors. Early 2021, I started my PhD at the university of Zürich in glacier seismology.
Thijs Smit (alumnus TU Delft), ETH
My name is Thijs Smit. I graduated in 2017 as a mechanical engineer at the TUD. After 2 years of working in industry, I joined ETH Zurich for a PhD in Biomechanics. I am applying a 'technique' from mechanical engineering, topology optimization, to optimize patient-specific spinal fusion implants. These optimized implants are solving several issues that current implants suffer from. My thesis defence is planned for the end of the year, and I am preparing to commercialize the methods I developed after my PhD.
Bart Thomson (alumnus UT), UZH
I am Bart Thomson and I have always been fascinated by the human body. To further pursue this interest I started with Human Movement Sciences in Groningen, after which I quickly transitioned to Technical Medicine at the University of Twente. I figured out that I wanted to drive medicine forward at scale. Given the simultaneous onset of AI in the medical field I gravitated towards the cross roads of computer vision and medicine. In my PhD I focus on identifying patients at risk for a setback following a certain type of stroke. In parallel I have identified important characteristics of the disease that can be targeted for treatment. During my PhD I’ve learned that I’m mainly excited by the possibilities of medical imaging and making an impact which is larger than an individual patient. Hence I would like to move into the industry to further leverage medical image analysis for patient benefit.
Mathieu Verpaalen (alumnus WUR), ETH
I’m Mathieu Verpaalen and following my Bachelor studies (HBO) in Biomedical Research at Breda, I acquired my master's from Wageningen, where I studied Biotechnology with the Medical specialization. I mostly chose courses involving the gut microbiome. For my master thesis I worked on in vitro and a little bit of in silico modelling of synthetic gut microbiota communities to further understand the interactions between bacterial species in a community context. After the thesis, I did a 7-month internship in Switzerland at Nestlé in the Fermentation Technology group. Here I was working on screening potential novel probiotic strains for application in babies. I did quite like the industrial way of working, and also wanted to stay for a longer time in Switzerland.
Valery Visser (alumna TUe), UZH
I'm Valery Visser, a researcher with an interest in the biomechanical behavior of soft tissues from both an engineering and a biomedical perspective. In the past I have worked on analyzing age-related changes in brain tissue at the Stevens Institute in New York, on the effect of mechanics on cell-cell signaling at the Technical University of Eindhoven, and I’m currently a PhD candidate at the University of Zurich where I am studying heart valves. We develop a fascinating new type of heart valve implants that transform into living tissues when we implant them in the body. My research specifically aims to study the design of these implants in order to develop an improved implant that lasts for a lifetime. In order to achieve this, I develop in-silico models that show us how heart valves are growing in the body, which I support and validate with in-vitro experiments. My research is highlighting the benefits of interdisciplinary and cooperative work in science
Anna de Vries (alumna TUe), ETH
My name is Anna de Vries. 9 years ago I was determined to find out what the world was made of, and so I went to study Chemical Engineering & Chemistry at TU Eindhoven. An exchange semester first brought me to (ETH) Zurich. Which is where I stayed, first for a Master's degree in Process Engineering and a now a doctorate program (PhD). In my PhD I am developing a novel carbon capture technology that is entirely driven by sunlight! This technology has massive potential to reduce the energy demand for carbon capture. My ambition is to take this technology out of the lab, to the world at scale by 2030.
Alumni from the area who are unable to join this gathering but wish to be notified of our future DEAN activities can submit/update their contact details using the event's registration form. A special DEAN Switzerland Linkedin group also exists to faciliate sharing information and networking between nearly 3000 graduates living in the country - to request to become a member click here.
An additional DEAN event will also take place on Thursday September 28th 2023 in Geneva at CERN - for more details click here.
* ABOUT DEAN: The Dutch Engineers Alumni Network (DEAN) is the cooperation of the four universities of technology of the Netherlands in the field of alumni relations, and launched its activities in 2014. Together, they represent over 300,000 alumni all over the world. Today DEAN encompasses over 30 alumni communities in Australia, Canada, France, Germany, the Nordics, Spain, Switzerland and the USA with activities aimed at connecting local alumni both with each other as well as with students and the universities. Read more: https://www.4tu.nl/en/about_4tu/alumni/
** The Alumni Pavillon is on ETH Zurich’s main campus (ETH Zentrum), right next to the ETH Zentrum Polybahn (funicular) station and just below the main building. Walk past the Polybahn station, past the bike parking area and down the stairs. You will then stand right in front of the entrance of the Alumni Pavillon which is to the right at the bottom of the stairs.