OUR TEAM
and collaborators
Philipp Schiffer (ORCiD)
Emmy Noether Fellow
Originally from just outside of Cologne, I have now returned here after more than 3 years in beautiful London (until 2019). Being interested in almost anything in evolution, I have become associated with roundworms by chance when planning my PhD-project on the evolution of sex. Since then I am somehow stuck to work on all kinds of vermiform animals, the incredibly diverse nematodes being my focus of course.
In my private life, I do a lot of Aikido, I mean, I DO A LOT OF 合気道. Additionally, I do a bit of rock climbing, outdoor recreation, and love many water sports. Already now I am looking forward to sail the 7 seas on my own boat in the future.
Reading about history, philosophy, politics, or just a good novel complement my free time. Very often you will find me listening to classical music when you come to my home or office, in particular to Wagner or Beethoven. And every now and then I go to the opera or a music rendition.
Tarja Hoffmeyer
Postdoc
I am excited to be postdoctoral researcher in the Worm Lab. I have a diverse background, having explored the fields of molecular ecology and evolution, transcriptomics and protein biochemistry.

I pursued both my bachelor's and master's in biology at the University of Cologne. In the working group of Prof. Dr. Hartmut Arndt and under the supervision of Dr. Frank Nitsche, I studied the impact of predators on cell differentiation in choanoflagellates – the single-celled relatives of animals, and later the molecular basics of the capacity of some choanoflagellate species to adapt to both marine and freshwater conditions.

For my PhD, I joined Dr. Pawel Burkhardt in his lab in the Marine Biological Association in Plymouth, UK, and later moved with him to the Sars Centre for Marine Molecular Biology in Bergen, Norway. There, I continued working on choanoflagellates and mainly focussed on the characterisation of protein complexes that were prerequisites for the evolution of synapses in animals.

Now, I am eager to broaden my knowledge about evolutionary and developmental Biology, by moving to nematodes, allowing me to explore an exciting question in an animal context: Why does a group as diverse as nematodes have such a conserved Bauplan? Having a passion for ecology, one of my favourite aspects of the project is that we explore the molecular diversity of nematodes. We will sequence the genomes of a variety of nematodes and perform single-cell transcriptomics to compare the gene expression at key developmental stages in different species to then finally investigate their function.

I am happy joining the team, bringing my lab expertise and hoping to learn a lot about bioinformatics. Apart from science, I love hiking and exploring new places. I am training Tae Kwon Do and enjoy reading.
Joseph Kirangwa
PhD student
Education and training background in Biomedical Laboratory Technology, Molecular Genetics, Molecular Biology and Bioinformatics from Makerere University, Karolinska Institute, Stockholm University and University of Skövde respectively.

Originally from Uganda and having enjoyed the gorgeous view of the Baltic Sea and multicultural diversity environment of Stockholm, Sweden (4 years), I have now moved on to join the excellent worm-lab research group as a full time research assistant and a PhD student at the prestigious University of Cologne, Germany. I see it as a spring board for me to launch a dream career take off.

My stellar interests are in uncovering evolutionary developmental constraints on the highly conserved nematode Bauplan using methods such as DNA and RNA sequencing and employing molecular genetic engineering methods for gene knockouts.

I am also passionate about computational analysis of obtained RNA/DNA sequence data as well as streamlining workflows and methodological details both at wet and dry lab stages.

In my free time, I play soccer, go kayaking, jogging in the woods while listening to instrumental music in the background. I also enjoy learning about nature and doing outdoor activities. At home you will find me watching National Geographic.

Equality and Diversity
At the Worm Lab we are fully committed to diversity and gender equality. Come as you are and bring whom you want. We also know how difficult it is to work in a job like ours when having kids. Thus we offer very flexible working models and regardless of their gender, all parents will be encouraged to take parental leave.
Lea Weiler-Tersch
Student assistant
After my bachelor in Aachen and a semester abroad in Amsterdam I am happy to pursue my master in Cologne and thereby having the chance of being part of the Worm lab. Having most of the time focused on neurobiology, I am keen to explore new fields. So far, only been working with mice, I am excited about working with nematodes and gaining a closer look at this diverse group. I want to use this opportunity to get a deeper understanding about evolutionary development visualised in an animal background.
Besides studying, I love being outside and exploring the landscape or enjoying some outdoor activities, either alone or chatting with a friend, but always with a coffee in my hand. After being in the lab I love ending the day with a yoga session or listening to music.
Laura Villegas
Student assistant
During the final year of my undergraduate degree in biology in Colombia, where I come from, I took two exchange semesters in Germany and was amazed with the broad range of research opportunities it had to offer.

I was really happy to have the opportunity to start my master's degree at the university of Cologne where I got first insights into understanding omics data in the context of evolution and development. After working mostly with bacteria during my undergraduate degree and doing my thesis on metabolomics of aquifers, I am really exited to (learn how to) work with genomic data of nematodes and learn more about this interesting taxa.

In my free time I like to do Zumba, yoga, reading novels and, of course, drink a nice cup of coffee.
Wer Würmer hat ist nie allein.
Friends
Some of the cool people we work with - check out the brilliant stuff they do.
Itai Yanai
We work with the Yanai lab at NYU. Itai Yanai is a pioneer in single cell transcriptome sequencing.
Oleksandr Holovachov
Along with Alex Holovachov in Stockholm we go hunting for nematodes. Alex is on of the leading experts in nematode taxonomy, check out his work here:
Mark Blaxter
Mark Blaxter is a good friend and now leads the Darwin Tree of Life Project, which aims to sequence every single species on the British Isles and in its waters.
Max Telford
We retain close links to Max Telford and his team at UCL to exchange worm stories and work on EvoDevo projects.
Rodrigo Mazorra Blanco
Rodrigo is a computer scientist turned entrepreneur based in London. Being passionate about making this world a better place for all people, we are collaborating on projects to fight parasitic nematodes and repurpose drugs.
Jens Bast
A colleague at the University of Cologne Jens Bast works on the evolution of sex using ancient asexual mites as model system.
Luca Ferretti
Luca is a physicist turned population geneticist and currently works at the University of Oxford. Take a look here and in particular check out the cool stuff he does on virus genomics.
Ann-Marie Waldvogel
Ann-Marie does experimental population genomics on insects and other critters. She is a key contributor to the European Reference Genome Atlas initiative. Look up her work here.
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