Past Members

Szymanski Group / UMCG / University of Groningen

Valentina Arkhipova, PhD

Valentina studied Biochemistry and Molecular Biology at the Udmurt State University, Russia. She did her MSc and PhD at the Institute of Protein Research, Russia under supervision of Prof. Maria Garber. After defending her PhD in December 2015, she moved to the University of Groningen as a post-doctoral researcher in the group of Prof. Bert Poolman and Prof. Dirk J. Slotboom to work on structural studies of membrane transport proteins. Since 2018 she started a collaboration project SzymanskiLab on time-resolved crystallography studies.

Michał Falkowski, PhD

Michał studied pharmacy at the Nicolaus Copernicus University in Bydgoszcz, Poland. He then moved to Poznan to pursue his doctorate studies at Poznan University of Medical Sciences under the guidance of prof. Tomasz Goslinski. After obtaining the Ph.D. in 2019, he returned to Bydgoszcz to work as a research associate at the department of Medicinal Chemistry. He did research stays at the Rutgers University, New Brunswick and the University of Pacific, San Francisco. In our lab, he focusses on the development of photosensitizers for photodynamic therapy.

Mark Hoorens, PhD

Mark obtained his MSc in the group of Prof. Mario van der Stelt (Leiden University). In 2020 he obtained a PhD degree in the SzymanskiLab, focussing on the design, synthesis and evaluation of new photopharmacological agents, to ultimately enable highly localized cancer treatment. Currently Mark is working as a postdoc as Erasmus MC Rotterdam under the supervision of dr. Yann Seimbille and Prof. Marion de Jong. Here he works on the development of theranostic radiopharmaceuticals.

Lucien Lameijer, PhD

Lucien studied Chemistry at Leiden University and obtained his MSc degree in May 2013. He then pursued his doctorate at Leiden University under the supervision of Dr. Sylvestre Bonnet and Prof. Dr. Lies Bouwman. After his PhD defence in December 2017, he briefly worked as a Scientist at MyLife Technologies and then as a post-doctoral researcher in the SzymanskiLab on synthesis and photochemistry of photocages and photoswitches. He is currently pursuing a teaching carreer in USA supported by the Fullbright Foundation.

Thirsa Lohuis

Thirsa is studying Pharmacy at the University of Groningen and has almost completed her bachelor's degree. In the meantime, she is starting her master research project, where she is part of the cutaneous lymphoma project of Szymanski Lab in collaboration with other UMCG departments. She will work on creating light-responsive chemotherapeutic agents.

Chantal Mulder, MSc

Chantal was born in 1995. She did her bachelor chemistry at the Hanze University of Applied Science (Groningen), during which she did her bachelor research at the UMCG, focusing on synthesis and 18F-labeling of PSMA-tracers, graduating in 2017. After Chantal finished her pre-master, she started her master at the University of Groningen in 2018. She worked in the SzymanskiLab focusing on the synthesis of responsive MRI contrast agents.

Friederike Reeßing, MSc

Friederike, born in Bremen, studied Pharmacy at the CAU Kiel and the University of Salamanca. In 2014 she received her diploma (equivalent to MSc) in Kiel. After obtaining her licensure as a pharmacist in August 2015, she pursued her PhD in the SzymanskiLab on the development molecular imaging, with the focus on targeted Magnetic Resonance, Optical and Optoacoustic Imaging and intraoperative imaging. After obtaining her PhD in 2020, she begun working with PRA.

Paula Ruppel, BSc

Paula completed her bachelor's degree in Pharmaceutical Sciences at the Ludwig-Maximilians-University in Munich. In her bachelor research projects in the group of Oliver Thorn-Seshold she focused on the synthesis of photoswitchable microtubuli inhibitors and reduction-sensitive fluorogenic probes for redox-biology. In 2021 she moved to the Netherlands to continue with her MSc in Medical Pharmaceutical Sciences at the RUG. In our lab, she works under the supervision of Ilse on light-responsive contrast agents for MRI as her master thesis project.

Laura Slappendel, MSc

Laura was Born in Nijmegen (the Netherlands) in 1995. In 2013, after one year of studying Pharmacy, she started her study Chemistry where she followed the ‘Sustainable Chemistry and Energy’ track and obtained her diploma in 2017. For her bachelor research project, she has worked on receptor ligands with photo-controlled activity in the Szymanski Lab. Laura conducted her master research project on optimizing a photo-switchable enzyme inhibitor.

Gianluca Trinco, MSc

Gianluca obtained his BSc degree in agricultural biotechnology at the University of Udine, Italy in 2013. He then moved to the Netherlands to study Molecular Biology & Biotechnology at the University of Groningen, obtaining MSc degree in 2015. He then started a PhD in the group of Prof. Dr. Dirk J. Slotboom on the mechanism of Na-coupled transporters. During this time he collaborated with several groups, including the SzymanskiLab where he tested photo-controlled inhibitors for membrane transport. In 2020 he joined our group to conclude his research.

Feringa Group / University of Groningen

George Alachouzos, PhD

George was born in Singapore and spent his childhood on the small island of Kalymnos, in Greece. He obtained his MS in Chemistry summa cum laude from Universiteit Leiden. George then pursued PhD studies in the US at the University of Rochester in the group of Professor Alison J. Frontier, enabled by a Fulbright PhD Fellowship. George is currently an EMBO postdoctoral fellow in the Feringa/Szymanski labs where he is using computational design and organic synthesis towards the discovery of novel red-shifted photocages for use in medicine and biology.

Keimpe-Oeds van den Berg, BSc

Keimpe-Oeds studied chemistry at the Hanze University of Applied Sciences, where he obtained his BSc in Chemistry (2018). He performed his Bachelor research in the group of Prof. Philip Elsinga at UMCG on the synthesis and labelling of a (PET) prostate cancer tracer. Afterwards, he did his pre-master in Chemistry at the University of Groningen (2019) after which he stayed to pursue his MSc degree. Starting August, 2020 works in the Feringa and Szymanski labs on the synthesis of new photoswitches to control biological systems with light.

Elmar Diekstra, BSc

Elmar obtained his BSc (2018) in Chemistry at the Hanze University of Applied Sciences. He worked for his graduation project in the group of Prof. Philip Elsinga focussed on new radiotracers for arginase. He also worked in the group of Prof. Alexander Dömling on the synthesis of 1-Tetrazolylimidazo[1,5-a]pyridines. After this, he went to the University of Groningen to do a pre-master (2019) and stayed to pursue his MSc degree focussed on Chemical Biology. He works on photoswitchable drugs in the Feringa and Szymanski labs starting August, 2020.

Mickel J. Hansen, PhD

Mickel studied chemistry at the University of Groningen, where he received his M.Sc. in 2014 after working with Prof. Ben L. Feringa on photo-switchable bio-active molecules. In 2014 he worked with Prof. G. Andrew Woolley at the University of Toronto on red-light switchable molecular photoswitches. He is obtained his Ph.D. at the Stratingh Institute for Chemistry under the supervision of Prof. Ben L. Feringa and Prof. Arnold J. M. Driessen, working on photopharmacology. He is currently a scientific coordinator at the University of Groningen.

Jacques Hille, MSc

Jacques was born in Leiden (The Netherlands) in 1993. During his bachelor he followed the “chemistry of life” track and did his bachelor research in the group of Prof. Marco Fraaije studying protein structure/function. He performed his master project in our lab on controlling quorum sensing with visible light in photopharmacology.

Anja P. Huizing, MSc

Anja started studying Chemistry at the University of Groningen in 2008, she obtained her BSc in 2012 and obtained her MSc in 2014. In her master research project in the Feringa group she focussed on the impact of small structural changes in amphiphiles on self-assembly.

Piermichele Kobauri, MSc

Piermichele studied Chemistry and obtained his B.Sc. and M.Sc. degree at the University of Turin. His Master research project focused on in silico drug design methodologies, namely pharmacophore modeling and docking. He did two Medicinal chemistry internships at the Universities of Turin and Copenhagen, working on drugs for leishmaniasis and GABA analogues, respectively. He is currently pursuing his Ph.D. under the guidance of Prof. Ben Feringa at the University of Groningen, on a photopharmacology and structure-based approach to smart antibiotics.

Dusan Kolarski, PhD

Dusan Kolarski studied Chemistry and obtained his BSc degree at the University of Belgrade. He then pursued his MSc studies at ETH Zurich in Switzerland, where he worked on redox-switchable cavitands and water-soluble molecular baskets (Prof. François Diederich). As a master student he also did an internship at Novartis Institute for BioMedical Research in Basel, Switzerland. In 2020, he obtaind the PhD in our lab, having developped the field of chronophotopharmacology under the supervison of Prof. Ben L. Feringa. He is currently a post-doc in our lab.

Michael M. Lerch, PhD

Michael obtained his B.Sc. and M.Sc. degree at ETH Zurich with research stays at the University of Cambridge (UK) and the California Institute of Technology. He conducted his Master's Thesis under the supervision of Prof. Robert H. Grubbs and Prof. Erick M. Carreira on the topic of regioselectivity in Wacker-type oxidations. He pursued his Ph.D. at the Stratingh Institute for Chemistry in Groningen under the supervision of Prof. Ben L. Feringa. His work focussed on controlling biological systems with light.

Carla Miró Vinyals, MSc

Carla was born in 1994 in Barcelona. She did her bachelor in chemistry in the Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona (UAB). She went to the University of Groningen to do her bachelor’s project with the group of Prof. Ben L. Feringa where she worked on the synthesis of light-driven unidirectional molecular motors, graduating in 2017. Carla started her Master at the University of Groningen in 2018. She is currently working in the Szymanski Lab on the synthesis of photoswitchable drugs for the modification of circadian rhythms.

Malgorzata Murawska, MSc

Gosia obtained her Bachelor degree studies at the Faculty of Chemistry, Warsaw University, Poland. In 2014-2016 she did her MSc studies at the University of Groningen, where she worked in Feringa Labs on her master research project, focused on photocontrolled binding of small molecules to DNA.

Claudia Poloni, PhD

Claudia studied Chemistry at the University of Padova, Italy. She obtained her MSc in 2009 with the master project on the synthesis of a peptaibolic peptide, tylopeptin A, in the laboratory of Prof. Fernando Formaggio. In 2010 she worked in DSM, The Netherlands for an internship under the supervision of Dr. Peter Quaedflieg. She obtained her PhD at the Stratingh Institute for Chemistry in Groningen under the supervision of Professor Ben L. Feringa and Dr. Wiktor Szymanski. Her research focused on incorporation of photoswitches in peptides and enzymes.

Nadja Simeth, PhD

Nadja studied chemistry at the University of Regensburg, Germany, where she obtained her M.Sc. Then, she pursued her doctorate studies with Burkhard König. After a research stay with Maurizio Fagnoni at the University of Pavia, Italy, she graduated in summer 2018. In our laboratory, she focussed on light-mediated DNA modulation, supported by a Feodor-Lynen Fellowship of the Humboldt Association. In 2021 she moved to Göttingen to start her own group.

Kaja Sitkowska, PhD

Kaja has been studying chemistry at the University of Warsaw, where she obtained her BSc and MSc diplomas. Her degree projects were conducted in the fields of molecular switches and organocatalysis. She has completed her PhD on a joint program between University of Groningen and University of Warsaw supervised by prof. Ben Feringa and prof. Grzegorz Litwinienko. Her research focussed on photopharmacology, molecular photocages and antioxidants.

Lianne Smid, BSc

Lianne is born in 1997 in Buren, a village on the Dutch Wadden Island Ameland. After finishing pre-university education cum laude, she went to Groningen to study Chemistry, following the Chemistry of Life track. She performed her bachelor research project within our group and returned for her master project, which focuses on red-shifting the spectra of photocleavable protecting groups.

Willem A. Velema, PhD

Wim studied Pharmacy at the University of Groningen, where he received his M.Sc. in 2010 after working on cell handling in microfluidic systems with Prof. Elisabeth M. J. Verpoorte. In 2014, he received his Ph.D.-degree cum laude from the University of Groningen for his research on the development of modern photopharmacology under the supervision of Prof. Ben L. Feringa. Starting in early 2015, he is working with Prof. Eric T. Kool at Stanford University.

Jana Volaric, MSc

Jana was born in Zagreb, Croatia in 1992. She obtained her BSc at the University of Zagreb with prof. Hrvoj Vancik. She did her MSc at the University of Groningen with Prof. Ben Feringa on the synthesis of dynamic bisthiourea molecular motor-based catalysts. She spent 6 months in Boston in the group of prof. Hidde Ploegh (Whitehead Institute, MIT) on labeling of influenza A virus. In June 2017 Jana started her PhD under supervision of prof. Ben L. Feringa on incorporating molecular motors and switches into biosystems in order to control function.

Jisk de Vries, BSc

Jisk was born in Groningen in 1993. After one year of studying biology he started his study of chemistry at the Rijksuniversiteit Groningen following the chemistry of life track. In 2017 he obtained his high school chemistry teachers degree and he obtained his bachelor diploma in 2018. He did his bachelor research in the group of Prof. M Fraaie working on enzymatic cofactor synthesis. Currently Jisk is doing his master research working on photoswitchable antibiotics.

Simon Wanner, BSc

Simon was born and raised in Munich and completed his bachelor's degree in chemistry and biochemistry at the LMU Munich, with a focus on photopharmacology. In the group of Oliver Thorn Seshold, he conducted research on photoswitchable microtubule inhibitors as part of his thesis. Currently, he is working on his MsC research project with George on the design and synthesis of red-shifted photocages.