From Bangalore to Dresden


First postdoc in the Fellowship Program of the Max Planck-NCBS Center on Lipid Research

Ruchi Jhonsa is the first postdoc recruited in the frame of the Postdoctoral Fellowship Program of the Max Planck-NCBS Center on Lipid Research. She stayed in the lab of Elisabeth Knust for one year, after having spent one year in the lab of Prof. Raghu Padinjat at the National Centre for Biological Sciences (NCBS) in Bangalore (India), the partner institute of the Max Planck-NCBS Center on Lipid Research. In this interview, Ruchi talks about her experiences at the MPI-CBG.

The Max-Planck-Gesellschaft started the Max Planck-NCBS Center on Lipid Research in 2011 to unite the expertise between two of the leading institutions for lipid and cell membrane research, the MPI-CBG Dresden and the NCBS Bangalore. Their joint biological know-how and their unique facilities open up new possibilities to pioneer basic and biomedical research and the development of new technologies and methods for analysis. Research in the Max Planck-NCBS Center on Lipid Research focuses on the intricate interplay between lipids and between lipids and proteins in membranes to capture these interactions both in living cells and in reconstituted model systems.

Ruchi, what was your motivation to apply for the program?
Before I came here, I met Eli Knust in India, she visits very frequently. She gave a presentation about what she is doing and it was quite fascinating. I got to talk to her and showed her my poster. I told her that I really liked her project and the possibility to work with her. Meanwhile, I saw that there was an opportunity to join the Postdoctoral Fellowship Program of the Max Planck-NCBS Center on Lipid Research. So, I applied to this program. The joint project that I was planning was involving what Eli was doing here and what the group leader in Bangalore was focusing on.

Also, I wanted to learn more about how science is done elsewhere. I have been in India for my PhD and I wanted to see how it is somewhere else. I heard a lot about MPI-CBG from my seniors at NCBS and I wanted to experience the culture and excitement of this place.

How was your time at the MPI-CBG and in Dresden?
My time here was amazing. When I arrived, I was a little scared because it was my first time staying out of my home country. But when I came, I had amazing landlords. They made my life simpler. They took me to a lot of places. I also got a lot of help from the International office of MPI-CBG and from Solveig, Eli’s assistant, and of course from my boss Eli.

I work with fruit flies and at MPI-CBG are such amazing fly people, like technicians, who maintain the flies. That also made my life simpler. When I travelled for a conference they took care my flies and keep them happy and alive. There are also amazing postdocs here. They helped me with the techniques, microscopy, and everyday lab life. That made it possible for me to answer fascinating research questions.

Overall, I had amazing friends. At the beginning I was afraid that I will start feeling lonely but that never happened. I was always surrounded by people and there was so much to do and explore. I was also actively involved in the school project and the Dresden Science Night. That kept me busy. I also enjoyed the ‘Meet the Speaker’ session after the Friday seminar. We don’t have this in India. It’s a nice occasion to hang out and talk to people and discuss science as well as other things. It’s a very friendly atmosphere here at MPI-CBG!


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