Meet Maria-Elisenda Alaball Pujol, PhD Candidate

Maria-Elisenda is a PhD candidate in the van Nimwegen group at the Biozentrum, University of Basel. Her research project is about quantifying the responses to antibiotic compounds at the single cell level using microfluidic devices.

These are hand size chips with channels or chambers were fluids and gases can flow at a very small scale, in the range of micro- or nanometers. Because microfluidics work on such a small scale, the interactions between bacteria and antibiotics can be observed and manipulated. For her project, Maria-Elisenda is both creating new microfluidic designs in order to test several antibiotics and bacterial strains at the same time, and performing microfluidic experiments. In the experiments, she exposes bacterial Escherichia coli (E. coli) cells to antibiotic treatments, acquires time-lapse microscopy images and then she analyses these images to extract single-cell information. Maria-Elisenda can then analyse this data and quantify how cells respond to the treatments and if their physiological and gene expression state before, during and after the treatment gives information about whether a cell will survive the treatment or not. The goal is to better understand why antibiotics are not always effective against disease, in this case E. coli infection.

More about Maria-Elisenda

Maria-Elisenda was born in Barcelona, Spain, where she did her undergraduate studies in Biomedical Engineering at Universitat Pompeu Fabra. In her third year, she became interested in Synthetic Biology, and did an internship and her bachelor’s thesis in Parc de Recerca Biomèdica de Barcelona (PRBB). She then moved to London to do an MRes degree in Systems and Synthetic Biology where she did her thesis research at the London Institute of Medical Sciences (LMS).

Since she was little, Maria-Elisenda loved both science and art. While she decided to pursue a scientific career, outside of work she likes to continue painting, singing, and taking photographs, both digital and film. She also loves travelling and discovering new places and cultures, and she speaks Catalan, Spanish, English, a bit of French and is studying German.

Read in Full         AntiResist Women