“Super happy to be in the team of Stefan Hell”

The Nobel Laureates Fellowship

June 11, 2018

Jonas Bucevicius is one of over 35 young scientists who will receive awards for their research achievements at the Max Planck Society’s Annual Meeting. The 30-year-old Lithuanian receives the Nobel Prize Fellowship from Stefan Hell. An interview about his research and life in Germany.

How do you feel about receiving the Stefan Hell Nobel Prize Fellowship?

I feel greatly honoured for having been nominated by Stefan Hell for the fellowship. However, for me it’s more than just an award because the fellowship also means an opportunity to carry out my research for two more years at a Max Planck Institute as well as extra resources for pushing my research ahead. Therefore, I’m really grateful for the given opportunity to continue my work at the Max Planck Institute for Biophysical Chemistry in Göttingen.

Tell us something about your research

I’m an organic chemist, so I spend most of my days in the lab. I’m working on new fluorescent probes which can visualize biomolecules in certain parts of the cell. My aim is to contribute to the creation of living-cell visualization toolboxes. These tools are very important for molecular, cell biologists or biochemists to gain deeper insights about life processes in cells and organisms.

How did you decide to become a scientist?

At school, I developed a genuine interest in chemistry. Therefore, I knew quite early that I wanted to become a chemist. During my studies, I discovered my passion for organic chemistry, so I enrolled for a bachelor’s degree in this field at Vilnius University. Then I stuck to it - and never regretted my decision. After finishing my PhD, I was a lecturer for one year. When I heard about an open postdoc position in the team of Stefan Hell, I immediately applied – and was successful. For a year now, I’ve been working in Göttingen, and now I’m really glad to have this fellowship.

What are the main differences between Germany and Lithuania – both in everyday life and in scientific aspects?

In Germany – and especially at the Max-Planck-Institute – you find perfect conditions for research. The labs are well equipped, the infrastructure is outstanding, and there are more possibilities to apply for funds or grants. In everyday life, from my point of view, there are not that many differences. Actually, I think that German and Lithuanian culture is quite similar, just in Germany things are organized in a better way. The biggest difference is probably between Vilnius and Göttingen. Vilnius is a big city with more than 500,000 inhabitants, while Göttingen only has around 120,000. That was a huge change – but a smaller city also has some advantages: I can reach every location easily by bike – so since I’m in Germany, I have become kind of a cyclist.

What are your plans for the future?

Tough question - I don’t know yet. At the moment I’m concentrated on my research here at a Max Planck Institute and haven’t thought about the next step yet. I guess these 2 years will show what the possibilities are for the future. Actually, my wife and my little daughter will move to Göttingen this summer, which of course makes me very happy, so I’m looking forward to these plans.

Interview: Tobias Herrmann

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