HR Excellence in Science
Date: 05.11.2021

Elisabeth Hehenberger awarded Lumina Quaeruntur Award

Elisabeth Hehenberger, a biologist focusing on bioinformatics, is coming to the Institute of Parasitology of the Biology Centre CAS. Thanks to the prestigious Lumina Quaeruntur award, which Elisabeth was awarded on November 5, 2021 she will have an extraordinary chance to conduct independent research. The Award supported by the Czech Academy of Sciences (CAS) includes a generous grant, which provides the winners with funding for their research group for five years. "We also require the laureates to apply for a prestigious grant from the European Research Council - eg the ERC or its equivalent - within five years of starting work in the new research team," says Eva Zažímalová, President of the CAS.

An Austrian native, biologist Elisabeth Hehenberger is coming to the Biology Centre from the prestigious Helmholtz Center for Ocean Research (formerly the Leibniz Institute of Marine Sciences) in Kiel, northern Germany, where she has worked since 2019.

The new research program of Elisabeth Hehenberger will enrich the existing research on the molecular evolution of unicellular eukaryotes in the laboratories of the Institute of Parasitology of the Biology Centre CAS.

The expert will focus on clarifying the initial stages of the relationship between a host organism and a so-called endosymbiont, beneficial organisms that live inside the host cells. Such a relationship has, for example, led to the evolution of chloroplasts in plants and algae.

In addition to studying algae and protozoa (so-called protistology), the young scientist deals with genomics, microbiology and bioinformatics, which is an essential field on the border of biology and informatics, allowing detailed analysis of large amounts of data obtained by biological research.

Elisabeth Hehenberger gained scientific experience while studying plant developmental biology at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich. During her postdoctoral stays, she worked for five years at the University of British Columbia in Canada and the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute (MBARI) in California, USA.

She also participated in research on non-photosynthetic predators and their relationship to red algae, published in 2019 in the prestigious journal Nature. Elisabeth Hehenberger was in charge of phylogenetic analysis of plastid-targeted proteins, which confirmed the relationship between predators and red algae.




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