Already during high school, I knew I was more of a science-person. I remember my fascination when we were first taught the basic concepts of inheritance, evolution, DNA and the central dogma of molecular biology. So a year later, I started my Biology study at the Vrije Universiteit Brussel, intrigued by the research life and its importance in the progression of fundamental science.
Gradually, I found out why I was so appealed by this broad field and it was during these years that the Archaeal (“third”) domain of life first popped up. I saw the opportunity to learn more about extremophilic organisms and obtain some experimental knowledge on working with archaea by performing a practical course at the MICR research group. I was convinced I wanted to join MICR for my master thesis, which led to obtaining my Master’s degree in the Molecular & Cellular Life Sciences graduation option in 2018.
Fascinated by the unusual characteristics of thermophilic archaea and struck by the relative lack of understanding of the regulation thereof, I applied for an FWO fellowship (aspirant) to further continue this fundamental research as a PhD student.
During my PhD research, I aim to characterize translational regulation of the temperature stress response of the thermophilic crenarchaeon Sulfolobus acidocaldarius, growing optimally at a temperature of 75°C in volcanic hot springs. How does Sulfolobus sense temperature changes? How does Sulfolobus know how to adequately respond to temperature stress and when it’s time to upregulate a wide range of different heat- and cold shock proteins, which protect the cell from damage induced by temperature stress? Aiming to identify and characterize so-called ‘RNA thermometers’, my research can ultimately lead to a better understanding of how riboregulation evolved during early evolution.