A Personal Touch of Susan Schuster

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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: Susan Schuster






1. Name, nationality, current function, department & theme?
Susan Schuster, German, PhD candidate, 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. 
I cannot remember if there was one particular occupation that I had in mind as a child. However, as a kid I used to watch “Once upon a time – our body”. The cartoon sparked my curiosity for the processes that happen in the human body already at an early age and this passion remains until today.

3. What was your previous academic training, where did you study and why did you choose that study/those studies? 
My study was not straightforward. After obtaining my “Realschulabschluss” (middle-level High school diploma), I went for 5 months to Australia for a High school exchange. Since I felt that this could not be the end and the job perspectives with the qualification I just obtained did not appeal to me, I continued at the “Gymnasium” to obtain my Abitur. Biology was always my passion and my strong subject and it was clear to me that I wanted to peruse a career that was related to this. At the same time I became fascinated by forensic science. Therefore I enrolled in a double-degree Bachelor in Forensic Science (major molecular biology) and Bachelor of Arts in Criminology and Criminal Justice in Brisbane, Australia. After two years I realized that the job chances in Europe would be rather slim and I transferred to the Bachelor of Science in Cell biology and Biochemistry at Jacobs University Bremen, Germany. Within two years I obtained my Bachelor degree at Jacobs University and decided to come to Nijmegen for the Master in Molecular Mechanisms of Disease. As part of the MMD Master program, we had the opportunity to write a PhD proposal and obtain our own grant and here I am, almost 3 years later doing my PhD in the lab of Ronald van Rij.

4. The RIMLS motto is ‘to understand molecular mechanisms of disease’. What does this mean for you?
In my opinion, understanding the molecular mechanisms of disease is important and critical to improve patient care. It is difficult to translate findings into the clinics without a good understanding at the molecular and cellular level. Therefore fundamental research is very essential.

5. Which international scientist inspires/inspired you the most? Please give a motivation why.
There are many great examples of inspirational and outstanding scientists. Naming one is very difficult. 

However, one scientist that made an impression on me is Prof. Vincent Racaniello. He is a virologist at Columbia University and worked on picornaviruses and, amongst other findings, identified the polioviruses receptor. Besides his great contributions to the field, I really admire the effort Prof. Racaniello has made in public outreach with his podcasts TWIV and the related shows. The weekly podcast discusses current issues in virology on a scientific level, however the hosts try to make it comprehensive for the general public at the same time.

6. Which research discovery that you have made has made you most proud?
There is not one scientific discovery that I’m particular proud of. I’m still at an early stage in my scientific career and I find many things exciting. There are the little things that make me proud in the everyday lab situations. Getting new assays up and running, getting nice results and adding small pieces to the puzzle. One special moment was when I saw my name printed as first author on a paper for the discovery of a new viral suppressor of RNAi for the first time.

7. Given unlimited finance what experiment would you perform? 
Unlimited finances sounds too good to be true. But certainly fund basic fundamental research. In my opinion this is inevitable and needs to be sustained next to goal-oriented, applied research.
Personally, I would perform deep-sequencing  and transciptome analysis of my Argonaut deficient cell lines ysis, amongst other things.

8. What does your working area (desk, office) look like and what does it say about you (or your research)? 
My desk can be very tidy or very chaotic, that always depends. There can only be my Mac together with a few papers on it, or lot’s of papers spread everywhere with notes in between. What that says about me? At heart I’m a chaotic person, which occasionally shows at work. What it says about my research? I don’t know.

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:
f) Culture or Nature:



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