A Personal Touch of Joep Joosten

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Please learn more about colleagues in our "Personal Touch" series setting employees in the spotlight. A light-hearted manner to learn about the colleagues you know and those you don't!.

This week: Joep Joosten






1. Name, nationality, current function & department?
Joep Joosten, Dutch, PhD Student, Dept. of Medical Microbiology, theme Infectious diseases and global health

2. When you were a child what did you want to be when you grew up? Can you tell us something about your childhood years
When I was very young, I wanted to become either a garbage truck driver or a professional football player. As soon as I figured out that garbage truck drivers do not work only once per week, but in fact are working in other towns when they were not in mine, I dropped this option. When it also became apparent that I did not possess the necessary talents to play professional football, I needed to find new alternatives. I’ve always had a strong interest in how the earth and life on it worked, so it was either going to be something geology- or biology-related. From where I am now, it’s clear which of these contenders came up on top in the end. 

3. What was your previous academic training, where did you study and why did you choose that study/those studies? 
I have had quite a winding path to come where I am now. I started out as a Biology-student, as I drew the short straw in the Medical school raffle. Eventually, I got into Medical school and finished my Bachelor’s degree. It was during my internships however, that I realized that I am more interested in the mechanisms underlying health and disease than in actual hands-on patient care. Therefore I made the switch to Biomedical Sciences; which turned out to be a great decision.

4. The RIMLS motto is ‘to understand molecular mechanisms of disease’. What does this mean for you?
Basically, the pursuit of this motto lead to my switch in career paths, as mentioned above. However, in my opinion, the understanding of the molecular mechanisms of life (in the absence of disease) is similarly important. To construct a model of disturbances of a molecular system in the case of disease, we must first have thorough understanding of the system in its healthy state.

5. Which international scientist inspires/inspired you the most? Please give a motivation why.
I would not go as far to say he is my great example, as he is very multidimensional with both good and shady sides, but Kary Mullis sure is an interesting guy. I recently read his autobiography, entitled Dancing Naked in the Mind Field, and definitely recommend it. Mullis invented the PCR (for which he won the Nobel Prize) and therefore has impacted the life of virtually everyone in our tower. His firm believe in astrology, climate change denial, and his accounts of encounters with extraterrestrial beings are some of his more shady aspects, but add to the colorfulness of his character.

One quote from his book – ‘a lab is just another place to play’- really stuck with me, though. In my opinion, we as scientist are very privileged to be doing the work we do, and we should not forget to have fun with it, despite publication stress and increasing competitiveness.

6. Which research discovery that you have made has made you most proud? 
I find it very hard to name one discovery that I’m most proud of. I’m happy with the development I went through in my first year and I’m hopeful for some great discoveries in the near future.

7. Given unlimited finance what experiment would you perform? 
I would set-up a BSL-3 mosquito facility, to enable us to perform virus infections in vivo.

8. What does your working area (desk, office) look like and what does it say about you (or your research)?
My desk and bench generally start out quite organized in the morning and then tend to get very cluttered during the day. At the end of the day I clean up, only for the endless cycle to start again the next morning. I guess this shows that I do not like cleaning, but that I do it when stuff gets out of hand. While my desk/bench may look like a mess sometimes, I’m actually quite an organized person in my own head.

9. Nominate a colleague to be in the spotlight and what would you like to ask him or her? 
Finny Varghese: Is it hard to adapt to the Dutch way of life?  

10. What type of person are you, quick insights:
a) Mac or  PC:
b) Theater or Cinema:
c) Dine out or dine in: 
Dine out
d) Ferrari or Fiat:
e) Shopaholic or chocoholic:
Neither really, but I detest shopping while I have nothing against chocolate, so let’s say chocoholicf) Culture or Nature:

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