Ariane Briegel

Professor, Co-director NeCEN

As part of Briegel’s masters studies in biology at the Ludwig Maximilian University in Munich, she received in-depth training in traditional electron microscopy techniques. For her doctoral thesis, Briegel joined the laboratory of Wolfgang Baumeister in Martinsried, Germany. As a PhD student she investigated the structure and function of prokaryotic macromolecular complexes in situ. After completing her PhD, Ariane Briegel joined the laboratory of Professor Grant Jensen at the California Institute of Technology (Caltech, Pasadena, CA, USA) as a postdoctoral fellow, where she continued her research in electron cryotomography as a tool for understanding microbial ultrastructure.


Jamie Depelteau

Graduate Student

After receiving my bachelor’s degree in microbiology and cell sciences from the University of Florida, I continued my education at The Ohio State University where I earned a master’s degree in education and completed three years of biomedical science graduate coursework and research. Most recently at the University of California, Berkeley, I had multiple roles including researcher, lecturer, and manager for undergraduate affairs. My research experiences range from genetic and cellular studies of animal models of disease to employing genome editing to generate cell lines that facilitate the study of actin nucleation and how intracellular pathogens hijack this process. My current research interests include understanding the fundamental mechanisms that regulate host-pathogen interactions, specifically how bacteria adjust to changes in the host environment. The Briegel research group and the Institute of Biology provide the tools, expertise, and support to do this with unprecedented clarity.

Alise Muok


My interest in the physical sciences started when I was a student at a community college in California. What first started as a necessary ‘general education’ course in chemistry soon became a personal fascination and career goal. When I transferred to U.C. Davis to earn my bachelor’s degree, I immediately started working in a university biochemistry lab that studies secondary metabolites in plants through biochemical and genetics methods. Fortunately for me, the PI of the lab gave a lot of responsibility and freedom in the lab to undergraduates like myself, which sparked my desire to continue science research at the graduate level. After graduating UC Davis, I started working in the lab or Dr. Brian Crane at Cornell University as a graduate student and was introduced to the world of structural biology. My projects here specifically focused on studying the structure and function of proteins involved in bacterial chemotaxis, primarily through crystallography. Now, in Dr. Ariane’s Briegel’s lab, I am continuing to study bacterial chemotaxis pathways through electron microscopy techniques. As a recipient of the Leading Fellowship for international post-docs, I get the privilege of working in a collaborative environment in a fantastic lab and beautiful country!

Ruochen Ouyang

Graduate Student

I am interested in applying cryoEM to understand the fundamental dynamic processes and mechanisms of antigen-antibody binding and phage infection. I got my bachelor’s degree in physics at Lanzhou University in 2017, then I was directly recommended as a PhD candidate free of examination and studied at Xi’an Jiaotong University. I have learned scientific research skills in the field of CryoEM with professor Lei Zhang. Now I appreciate that I can work in professor Ariane Briegel’s group as a joint training doctoral student.

Adam Sidi Mabrouk

Research Officer

Microscopy and all its uses in biology have fascinated me from the start of my Bachelor’s degree of biology. I was fortunate to receive in-depth training in confocal microscopy during my first internship where I worked on answering research questions in the Zebrafish model. My microscopy training was further expanded during my Master’s degree internship in the Briegel lab. Here I learned how to use cryo-electron microscopy to study bacterial ultrastructure. Combining these two microscopy techniques with the molecular and microbial knowledge that I gained during my Bachelor’s and Master’s degree now allows me to focus on a wide range of research projects. These projects include: investigating the effect of curvature on the polarity of Vibrio cholerae and investigating the use of bacteriophages as a treatment for cholera infected Zebrafish larvae. All of this has been made possible in no small part by the expertise that surrounds me in the Briegel lab and the inspiring environment that I work in!

Janine Liedtke

Graduate Student

I am fascinated by the fact that a small detail of a system, such a microbe is, can have a tremendous impact and the ability to change a whole system for better or for worse. I want to understand how microbes interact with their environment and what it makes the microbe to change a system in a certain way. After obtaining my degree as medical lab technician and gathering some work experience. I continued my education and obtained a bachelor degree in biology at the Free University of Berlin and a master degree at the University of Bonn. During my whole study I set my focus on microbiology, specifically on bacteria and how they colonize different surfaces as well as how they handle aggravated growth conditions. After obtaining my university degrees I got the great chance to work in interdisciplinary groups at the European space agency, where I among other things supported the work at Human Space flight and Robotics section as well as the artificial photosynthesis project of Dr. Katharina Brinkert. Furthermore, I went to Oslo, Norway, to work on Bacillus cereus spores and their outer surface structure at the Norwegian University of Life Science. During my work on spore structures I learned about cryo-electron microscopy and I was immediately excited about the possibility this technique gives. The Briegel lab gives me the possibility not only to learn the techniques but also to understand how microbes interact and impact their environment. I am currently joining the NWO-groot consortium where I am going to visualize the plant-endophytes interactions by cryo-electron tomography.

Katrina Gundlach


My formal science training began in the field. I started my studies at Hawaii Pacific University and received my bachelor’s in Marine Biology in 2012. During these years, I also worked with several different environmental NGOs in Madagascar, Indonesia, and Tanzania as a SCUBA diver. I collected data on the health of marine habitats, helped local governments implement sustainable fishing practices, advised community-led restoration projects, and educated local children and adults on developing sustainable alternative livelihoods. It was from here I decided to go to graduate school and pursue my doctorate. My PhD advisor Dr. Glen Watson at University of Louisiana at Lafayette saw my deep love for Cnidarians and he introduced me to the beautiful world of microscopy. My PhD project looked at the very cool stinging cells of sea anemones and how they are regulated as a function of nutrition and symbiotic state. I finished my PhD in Environmental and Evolutionary Biology in 2018 and started a postdoc in Dr. Margaret McFall-Ngai’s lab at University of Hawaii at Manoa. Here I stated working on the Hawaiian Bobtail Squid. My project looked at how the squid’s ciliated symbiotic organ actively collects its symbiont Vibrio fischeri from the surrounding seawater, using high-speed videography with MATLAB analysis. Now as a postdoc in Dr. Briegel’s lab, I am continuing to use the Squid – Vibrio system to study how the symbiotic bacteria interact with host epithelial cells throughout the development of the symbiotic relationship by using high resolution cryo-EM techniques. I’m very excited to have my squid here in the Netherlands!

Veronique Ongenae

Graduate student with the Claessen and Briegel Labs

Growing up in a farmers town, I have been interested in biology from a very young age. Therefore, it seemed a logical next step to start the Biology bachelor at Leiden University. After obtaining my bachelor’s degree, I started the Master: “From Cells To Organisms” again at Leiden University, where I expanded my knowledge on microbiology. The city of Leiden and its University became a second home for me and I never left again. During my Master internships I have been involved in several projects focused on stress resistance in fungi and genetic engineering using CRISPR/Cas9. Now, as a PhD student of the Claessen lab and the Briegel lab, I have the opportunity to investigate the ecological role of cell wall-deficient actinobacteria and their interaction with other soil organisms, like bacteriophages and fungi, using high resolution cryo-electron microscopy techniques. 

Noortje Dannenberg

Graduate student with the Claessen and Briegel Labs

As a DuneCat, I was born and raised next to the sea and forests. This instilled a deep respect and fascination in me towards nature and adventure. It was therefore no surprise that I started my Bachelor “Biology” at the University of Leiden, allowing me to explore my two favourite subjects, namely Biology and Chemistry. These interests evolved further during my studies into my current love for Microbiology and Molecular Engineering, inspired by the great teachers and professors, the amazing research and the huge advances in the field. Therefore, I continued my path at Leiden University to do the master specialization “Microbial Biotechnology and Health”, in which I enriched my program with courses by the Institute Leiden Biology, but also by Leiden Institute of Chemistry and Naturalis Biodiversity Center. Besides, various internships allowed me to gain in depth research experiences, including research at the Dutch organisation of applied scientific research (TNO) and at the Medical Faculty of the University of North Sumatra (FK-USU), Indonesia. In the latter research I worked on a molecular project concerning pathogens isolated from Tuberculosis patient samples, which opened my eyes to the urgency to combat this devastating disease. I performed my graduation internship at the lab of Prof. Claessen, in which my experience of working with Mycobacterium tuberculosis was combined with fundamental research towards bacterial cell wall deficiency. We explored this model for its potential role in persistence of infectious diseases and the results allowed us to write a research proposal that got granted by ENW-NWO-klein1, thus I could continue as a PhD candidate. This research is embedded in the microbial cell biology of the Claessen Lab and co-supervised by the high-end cryo-EM microscopy of the Briegel lab. Besides, the zebrafish infection model is included through collaboration with the lab of Prof. Meijer, complemented by the Mycobacterial expertise of Prof. Ottenhoff of the Leiden University Medical Centre (LUMC) and Prof. Bitter of the VU medical centre (VUmc) Amsterdam. All-with-all, this DuneCat is an enthusiastic microbial biotechnologist with great interest towards Mycobacteria and their surrounding cell envelope, and I am very excited to be part of the Briegel lab and to be trained at the NeCEN facility.

Vera Williams

Media Specialist

I am a graduate from the Media Technology master programme from Leiden University. This program taught me to perform my research creatively and to utilise the media platforms that best fit the research. However, my academic roots are grounded in the field of microbiology. These roots were developed during my years in the Biology bachelor program from Leiden University, as well. During the third year of my research internship in the Biology program, I developed an interest in creating 3D models, animations and installations from microbiological data such as microscopy images, which led me unto the unconventional path of scientific visualisations. 
Visualising the invisible world of microbes captivated me, and since that moment I have pursued this idea relentlessly. It is my goal to become a proficient scientific visualiser of microbiological topics, and there is still so much I want to discover in this field. But, the quality of these visualisations is heavily dependent on high-quality data and in-depth scientific knowledge on the microbiological topic. 
I therefore count myself very lucky to be part of Dr. Ariane Briegel’s lab, as there is plenty to be found of both in her research group. And through Ariane’s close collaboration with NeCEN, the Netherlands Centre of Electron Nanoscopy, the visualisations can be based on the highest resolution microscopy data available today! This allows us to look at microbes on a new, deeper level. 
It’s exciting to combine cutting- edge microbiological research with the latest visualisation techniques. Through this, I hope to stimulate communication on microbiological topics among researchers and to the general populace.


Wen Yang

Graduate Student

I have an interdisciplinary educational background including a bachelor’s degree in pharmacy and a master’s degree in biomedical engineering. Nevertheless, in recent years I have been involved in a series of research projects with a shared focus within life science and biology, from pharmacodynamics studies aiming for target drug release to revealing the molecular mechanism of functional amyloid polymerization in bacteria. In the past two years my primary research focus has been on the “structure and assembly of functional amyloids.” Through this research I have come to realize how exciting, yet challenging, it is to reveal the structure and function of proteins, because this can not be accomplished without a complex set of expertise and techniques and through extensive collaboration across various disciplines.

Eveline Ultee

Graduate Student

In the past years I have obtained a Bachelor’s degree and Master’s degree in biology. As a result of my study program, I have gained a broad educational background in research related to health and disease. I got the chance to participate in divers research projects: from a project investigating the effect of oral bacteria on cell proliferation in the human oral cavity, to research focussing on the role of genes in the Campylobacter chemotaxis system. The researchers and experts I have got the opportunity to work with inspired me and gave me an insight into the numerous challenges and possibilities that lay within microbiological research.

Rohola Hosseini


I became interested in the microscopic world and the dynamics in cell biology during my bachelor and master studies at Technical University of Delft and Leiden University. I have finalized my master program in Biophysical Structure Chemistry in the group of Prof. Jan Pieter Abrahams on microtubule dynamics and high-throughput nano-protein crystallization for electron diffraction. Subsequently, I performed my PhD in the group of Prof. Herman Spaink on the role of autophagy during the course of mycobacterial infection in zebrafish larvae model using correlative light and electron microscopy. After my PhD, I have studied Pseudomonas cell physiology in the group of Prof. Han de Winde. Currently, in the group of Prof. Ariane Briegel my research focuses on high-resolution in situ imaging to increase our understanding of Pseudomonas cell physiology and zebrafish host responses during infection.

Susanne Brenzinger


I started my bachelor training in cellular and molecular biology at the University of Osnabrueck, Germany, in 2005 and was immediately drawn to the question of how microbes are capable solving a multitude of tasks with only the tools that are available in one single cell. After a brief excursion into the area of human genetics, I continued my training (now towards the master degree) at the Philipp University of Marburg, Germany, where I joined the lab of Kai Thormann in 2011 to study physiological aspects of the flagellar motor in γ-proteobacteria. For my PhD thesis, I continued to work with Prof. Thormann (since 2013 at the University of Giessen, Germany), now also focusing on questions related to cell polarity and chemotaxis. My PhD studies have further cemented my interest in bacterial cell physiology, which I now seek to understand and analyze in more detail and with higher resolution at the Briegel lab. To do so I received a fellowship in 2017 funded by the German National Academy of Science Leopoldina.

Davi Ortega


I am a computational molecular biophysicist passionate about evolution of complexity and decentralized forms of governments.I am a postdoc at Leiden Universityin the Briegel Lab where I continue my studies in the evolution of chemotaxis networks and data sharing using blockchain technology.I am also one of the developers of the MiST3 database. I received my PhD in Physics with Igor Zhulin at Oak Ridge National Laband University of Tennessee. Next, I spent five years as a postdoctoral scholar at Caltechin the Jensen Labwhere I led the bioinformatics studies in macromolecular machineries and chemotaxis.In a distant past, I worked with Atomic Optical Clocksat the Time and Frequency Division at NISTsupervised by Chris Oatesand Flavio Caldas da Cruz.I am a co-founder of the Art+Science collective Schema47in Los Angeles and I am a member of the core team of the cryptocurrency FLO. I collaborate with the Brazilian Pirate Partyand Vote na Web.