The functions of bacteria are controlled on the molecular level by networks of genes, mRNAs, proteins, metabolites, and their mutual interactions. The elucidation of the structure of these regulatory networks has much progressed as a result of extensive work in molecular biology. Most of the time, however, it is not well understood how the dynamic behaviour of the network emerges from the interactions between its molecular components. How does a bacterial cell adapt its growth rate to changes in the environment? And how can we change regulatory networks to reorient metabolism from growth to the production of a molecule of interest? In order to answer these questions, mathematical modelling and computer simulation of the dynamics of bacterial regulatory networks need to be combined with high-precision measurements of gene expression and metabolism.
Depending on the educational background and the research interests of the candidate, the internship may focus on experimental work in microbiology or on mathematical modeling and computational analysis. Some examples of possible internship subjects in the context of on-going projects are the following:
The analysis of single-cell gene expression data in Escherichia coli using stochastic models;
The development of E. coli strains enabling the optogenetic control of bacterial growth;
Coarse-grained modeling of natural and synthetic control of bacterial growth;
The candidate is expected to have a solid background in one of the following domains : (micro)biology, computer science, applied mathematics, control theory, or physics. An open mind, the capability to work independently, and good communicative skills are required for the interdisciplinary projects we offer.