Bioorganic Chemistry

The Elk Crew

We keep science in motion...

Group Leaders

Kurt Faber

Full Professor

Kurt Faber

tel: +43-316-380-5332
e-mail: kurt.faber(at)uni-graz.at

Kurt is our boss, so do not expect any true facts. Here we have to lie, excessively lie. He is the most active member of our group when it comes to any form of sportive activity. No mountain is too high to be climbed by foot or conquered by mountain bike. Most of us have adopted modern times and use ski lifts, Kurt uses touring skis and scales any mountain all the way to the summit. Maybe this is due to the fact that he is kind of a freak in all fields of skiing. By the way, Norwegians called him a ski-o-holic. The only non professional thing we can tell about him is his old-fashioned computer (Apple, grin...).

Author unknown

Additional Information:

Performance Record at UNIGRAZonline

Wolfgang Kroutil

Full Professor

Wolfgang Kroutil

tel: +43-316-380-5350
e-mail: wolfgang.kroutil(at)uni-graz.at

As you might have noticed, we do not have one single boss, we have two bosses. An "older" (sorry Kurt!!!) and a "younger" one. He is now the expert for pretty special biocatalytic problems: deracemization, oxidation-reduction, alkene-cleavage and C=C bond formation. Although he has his own students and post-docs, his door is always open for the other members of this group. And whenever you have seen his door handle, you know that a lot of people want to speak with him. He is not only the right man for special computer problems (especially for Kurt's Mac) but also for problems with synthesis or screening. Wolfgang loves sweets and chocolate, so for all the people out there, if you need something from him, bring sweets to put him into good humour. And by the way, that is the way we are doing it here.

Author unknown

Additional Information:

Performance Record at UNIGRAZonline

Researchers

Elisabeth EgerJudith FarnbergerMichael FuchsSomayyeh GandomkarSilvia GlueckBarbara GrischekImre GyűjtőMélanie HallLucas HammererBarbara LarisseggerHaifeng LiuStefan PayerMathias PicklJulia PitzerKatharina PlaschJakob PletzHannah PollakJarosław PopłońskiTamara ReiterMarina Simona RobescuNina SchmidtJoerg SchrittwieserErika TassanoGábor TasnádiStefan VelikogneChristoph WinklerAnna Żądło-Dobrowolska

Looking for previous members of the elk-crew? A list of our alumni can be found here.

Elisabeth Eger

Doctoral Student

Elisabeth Eger

tel: +43-316-380-8646
e-mail: elisabeth.eger(at)edu.uni-graz.at

Coming from the wine hills along the Schilcher-Weinstrasse, Elisabeth joined our group for her Master's Thesis (having been a summer student before) following which she decided to continue her scientific career with us. After making first contact with biocatalysis as a summer student working on ene-reductases, Elisabeth gained further experience in the lactamase project. In her free time, Elisabeth enjoys reading a good book or taking a long hike (although she simply calls it a "short walk") through the beauty of Mother Nature. Elisabeth's friendly nature, her helpfulness and her reliability make it very pleasant to work with her. Being a biotechnologist, she knows about the properties and peculiarities of proteins and how to deal with them. For her PhD-thesis, Elisabeth now faces the intricate challenge of stopping her enzyme which unfortunately happens to be a protease from eating itself and instead turning it into a tool for oxidative alkene-cleavage.

Nikolaus Turrini (2015)

Judith Farnberger

Doctoral Student

Judith Farnberger

tel: +43-316-380-8638
e-mail: judith.farnberger(at)edu.uni-graz.at

One of the newest members of our group is Judith: Originally from Upper Austria she moved to Graz for her studies at the Technical and Karl-Franzens University in 2007; she completed her Bachelor degree in Environmental System Sciences and focused afterwards on Biotechnology. Currently she is working on her challenging master thesis, trying to make transaminase-catalysed processes even more effective and efficient! However, as she has already demonstrated her excellent skills in catalysis, microbiology, protein purification, and synthetic organic chemistry in various projects (in form of a summer respective winter student in our group), there is no doubt that this is going to be a success. In her spare time she likes to conquer the world, reading and doing a lot of sports (e.g., climbing and volleyball). Personally, she is open-minded, enthusiastic and always happy; her good mood is rather infectious, which makes her a pleasant lab mate to work with. To conclude: good to have you here and welcome back to the elk-crew!

Robert Simon (2014)

Michael Fuchs

University Assistant

Michael Fuchs

tel: +43-316-380-5462
e-mail: michael.fuchs(at)uni-graz.at

MORE INFORMATION COMING SOON...

Author unknown

Somayyeh Gandomkar

Postdoctoral Researcher

Somayyeh Gandomkar

tel: +43-316-380-8646
e-mail: s_gandomkar(at)sbu.ac.ir

MORE INFORMATION COMING SOON...

Author unknown

Silvia Glueck

Postdoctoral Researcher

Silvia Glueck

tel: +43-316-380-5479
e-mail: si.glueck(at)uni-graz.at

After two years postdoctoral stay in the UK, Silvia returned to Graz in 2007 where she is currently working as a Senior Post-doc in the elk crew.

Author unknown

Barbara Grischek

Chemical Technician

Barbara Grischek

tel: +43-316-380-8635
e-mail: barbara.grischek(at)acib.at

Babsi is a pretty busy person, because she has to grow a lot of microorganism for us. She is a really nice person, always in good humor and very helpful. Babsi is always especially well dressed and that may explain one of her hobbies: decorating things. By reason that she's eating only healthy stuff, especially fruits, come to our lab and ask for Babsi when you need some vitamins, we are sure that she's having an apple for you in her bag.

Author unknown

Imre Gyűjtő

Visiting Doctoral Student

Imre Gyűjtő

tel: +43-316-380-8646
e-mail: gyujtoimre(at)gmail.com

MORE INFORMATION COMING SOON...

Author unknown

Mélanie Hall

University Assistant

Mélanie Hall

tel: +43-316-380-5479
e-mail: melanie.hall(at)uni-graz.at

Mélanie is originated from Brittany in France, and grew up there as a neighbour of Asterix and his friends. Although her German and English both are perfect, you easily can tell by her penchant for good wine and magic potions that she also did not forget her French roots. After working three years as a postdoc at Georgia Tech, Mél returned to our group, where she also had done her PhD thesis. Of course she first had to pass Kurt's rigorous athletics test, including outdoor survival, kilometres over kilometres of hiking, ski-touring and biking, before she was accepted as his assistant (probably she had to use some magic potion she brought from home).

Right now Mél has her fingers in several different projects but she always has an open ear for all of us to profit from her experience in chemistry and biocatalysis. In her free time she is always active, either visiting her friends all over the world or doing/trying/training pretty every (extreme) sport there is.

At the end one advice: If you meet her randomly somewhere on the world, double-check, since chances are 50/50 you have met her twin sister.

Christoph Winkler (2011)

Barbara Larissegger

Lecturer

Barbara Larissegger

tel: +43-316-380-8641
e-mail: barbara.larissegger(at)uni-graz.at

Barbara has been a member of the elk-crew from the early days on, working mainly on the biocatalytic racemisation of alpha-hydroxycarboxylic acids. Nowadays, as she's employed only half-time, she had to cut back her research efforts, and she now devotes all her time to supervising lab courses and introducing future biologists and high school teachers to the wonderful world of organic chemistry.

Jörg Schrittwieser (2014)

Haifeng Liu

Postdoctoral Researcher

Haifeng Liu

tel: +43-316-380-8638
e-mail: haifeng.liu(at)uni-graz.at

MORE INFORMATION COMING SOON...

Author unknown

Stefan Payer

Doctoral Student

Stefan Payer

tel: +43-316-380-5334
e-mail: s.payer(at)edu.uni-graz.at

Stefan was born and raised in the mountainous north of Styria, where he also found his love for Chemistry while attending a polytechnic secondary school with focus on plastics engineering. He then enrolled in Chemistry studies at TU Graz, and because he comes from the same region as organic chemistry great Alois Fürstner (the latter's birthplace is just a 10 min car ride from Stefan's home) it's no wonder he specialised in organic synthesis. He honed his skills in various project lab courses and during a semester abroad, which he spent at the University of Utah via an international exchange programme. A skilled and highly motivated chemist as Stefan is, he did not falter to accept a Master's project in which he tackles not only one, but two biocatalytic problems: the chemo-enzymatic synthesis of an ant venom alkaloid and the development of novel co-substrates for transaminases.

In his free time, Stefan likes to travel and to be active outdoors doing hiking, for instance, or carrying out some little maintenance & construction work at his family's own mountain chalet. In winter, ski touring and snowboarding are his greatest passions. Not only has his girlfriend been a professional ski racer for many years, his father also runs a small ski lift so, technically, Stefan has got his own ski resort ;) And for those days with nasty weather, Stefan and his girlfriend have another very interesting hobby to keep them busy: they grow bonsai of local tree species!

So, you can see, Stefan is a versatile and open-minded person, but most importantly he's just a very nice fellow hence, we're glad he joined us and we hope he'll stay for some years...

Jörg Schrittwieser (2014)

Mathias Pickl

Doctoral Student

Mathias Pickl

tel: +43-316-380-8638
e-mail: mathias.pickl(at)edu.uni-graz.at

In 2007, Mathias decided to leave beautiful Steyr und moved to Graz to get started with his chemistry study. Over the years he got fascinated by synthesis and catalysis and was luckily somehow forced to join our working group. Once caped we never let him move further again, he spent several month being a summer/project student and finally he also decided to do his master thesis under the supervision of Silvia. In terms of his thesis he is working with challenging cascade reactions between oxidases and transaminases, requiring his excellent chemical knowledge as well as biochemical tools to which he appropriated pretty fast. Mathias is a really motivated master student and able to cope with occurring problems on his own. If he is not in the lab he enjoys "la bella vita" over a good self made meal. Since he had been a semester abroad in Turin he is not only fascinated by the Italian culture, language and landscape but especially by the cuisine. Mathias is an excellent cook and if you do not know what to prepare for dinner tonight he will definitely be able to give you a fantastic hint. Furthermore to get his mind free from chemistry in his free time he enjoys doing and watching sports. Mathias is a really communicative and humorous guy, positively influencing our working group.

Eva-Maria Fischereder (2013)

Julia Pitzer

Doctoral Student

Julia Pitzer

tel: +43-316-380-5463
e-mail: julia.pitzer(at)acib.at

MORE INFORMATION COMING SOON...

Author unknown

Katharina Plasch

Doctoral Student

Katharina Plasch

tel: +43-316-380-8646
e-mail: katharina.plasch(at)uni-graz.at

After completing her master's thesis at the Graz University of Technology, Kathi joined the ElkCrew for working on her PhD.

Kathi was born and raised in picturesque Southern Styria, where she gathered essential skills in critically evaluating the quality of various wines from her teenage-years on. In her home-village, Kathi is well known all around the place. This, of course, pays off when it comes to excursions through the vineyards and "Buschenschenken" surrounding her home. At the university, she rather concentrates on the enzyme-catalyzed regioselective carboxylation of phenols. Some of these compounds are, by the way, also related to the flavour of wines and so the circle is complete.

Kathi is a very amicable person, whose presence everyone enjoys, no matter whether in the lab or in the social room during work or afterwards in a pub. Apart from her life in the lab, she is a really passionate crossfit-athlete, not hesitating to participate in various competitions, such as (half-) marathons, throughout the year. In winter you may also find her working as a ski-instructor for children in southern Styria (yes, there are ski-resorts in this area).

So you see, Kathi is a really active and liked person, whom we are pleased to count as a member of our community.

Stefan Payer (2015)

Jakob Pletz

University Assistant

Jakob Pletz

tel: +43-316-380-5462
e-mail: jakob.pletz(at)uni-graz.at

MORE INFORMATION COMING SOON...

Author unknown

Hannah Pollak

Chemical Technician

Hannah Pollak

tel: +43-316-380-8646
e-mail: hannah.pollak(at)uni-graz.at

Hannah just recently entered into employment as a chemical technician in the Elk group, right away after she had graduated from the School of Chemical Engineering in Puntigam/Graz. Contemporarily, she launched her study as a chemist at NAWI Graz, which she is still pursuing with success.

One might now think the busy girl does not have any free time for fostering hobbies, but then you're way off the mark! Since she was sixteen, she has already travelled the majority of the European continent, mostly only by train and without any travel plans or accompanies. Once, she spent 27 hours in a bus when she was on her way to explore Lithuania! On her journeys, she enjoys getting to know foreign people and hangin' out with them during mutual travel sections. Some destinations she has not been at yet are Iceland and Russia, but we are confident she will once visit them all! When she is not abroad, you may encounter Hannah enjoying a hike or a bicycle tour in the surrounding mountains of Graz and on Teichalm. On rainy days however, she rather stays at home to do carpentry and creating her own unique furniture. If you know Hannah, you wouldn't expect to find standard off-the-shelf furniture at her place anyway...

So you see, Hannah is a very active, communicative and curious youngster, which, together with her accurate way of working and technical skills, renders her a very valuable and likeable member of our group!

Stefan Payer (2016)

Jarosław Popłoński

Visiting Researcher

Jarosław Popłoński

tel: +43-316-380-8638
e-mail: jarek.poplonski(at)gmail.com

MORE INFORMATION COMING SOON...

Author unknown

Tamara Reiter

Chemical Technician

Tamara Reiter

tel: +43-316-380-5349
e-mail: tamara.reiter(at)uni-graz.at

Tamara Reiter rejoined our group in summer 2013 after a short interlude at the TU Graz. Tamara is originally from Graz where she successfully completed the Chemie-Ingenieurschule. Since then she has been working in academic environment involved in various challenging and successful projects in the area of biocatalysis: deracemization of sec-alkohols using sulfatases, construction of bio-nanodevices for targeted drug delivery and recently the bio-carboxylation of aromatics. Every now and then she feels the need to go out into the world to explore something new. She spent one year in the States (Boston) to get the spirit of the American way of life, she already danced the hula in Hawaii and many more.

Silvia Glueck (2014)

Nina Schmidt

Doctoral Student

Nina Schmidt

tel: +43-316-380-8646
e-mail: nina.schmidt(at)uni-graz.at

Nina (An original Grazer), first joined our group to do her Bachelor thesis work. But she was really inspired by the work we do here that she was back over and over again as a summer/winter student, working on different projects and with different supervisors gaining hands-on experience. Now she is back again, this time to join our transaminase community, which she had still left unconquered during her previous visits!

Nina is a quiet and friendly person who is passionate about her work and determined to solve the challenges in Biocatalysis. On a lighter side, in her free time she likes to go climbing, or enjoy the beautiful Austrian landscapes. She also likes to test out her culinary skills and strives to excel at it... So Nina, welcome back!!

Aashrita Rajagopalan (2013)

Joerg Schrittwieser

University Assistant

Joerg Schrittwieser

tel: +43-316-380-5334
e-mail: joerg.schrittwieser(at)uni-graz.at

After a one-and-a-half year postdoctoral stay in the Netherlands, Joerg has returned to where he belongs: the elk crew! And this is his story: originating from Northern Styria, he has started to study chemistry and philosophy (nope, that's not a mistake!) in 2003 at the KFU-Graz in order to become a teacher. Thank god, he discarded his initial plan and chose the scientific career instead, focusing on organic chemistry and biocatalysis, which directed him straight into the elk group. He has already performed his Master's and PhD theses within the group, working on enzymatic cascade reactions but also on the chemoenzymatic synthesis of designated alkaloids: several natural and non-natural products were thereby accessed via (enzymatic) oxidative C-C coupling. In his subsequent PostDoc, his already broad knowledge on cascades was further deepened, but he also gained a first insight into the small world of nanoparticles.

Kind of obviously, he has already worked on several projects and with many enzyme classes (ADHs, TAs, BBE, MAOs, etc.), thus gaining a lot of synthetic and microbiological experience. This and many more features make him a valuable and pleasant lab-colleague who is keen to share his knowledge with others! As such, you can frequently see him discussing all kinds of problems arising from the daily lab routine or giving a helping hand to somebody somewhere. And even though his current position as assistant claims a lot of his time for teaching Master's Students, he spends almost every second in the lab pushing his current project to success.

The question "how to manage all that stuff simultaneously?" may arise: simply by doing sports (e.g., hiking, climbing, tennis, and skiing), meeting friends, travelling, and reading. At the end there are only few things to say: welcome back, Joerg, good to have you here, and this was hopefully just the beginning of your scientific story.

Robert Simon (2014)

Erika Tassano

Postdoctoral Researcher

Erika Tassano

tel: +43-316-380-5349
e-mail: erika.tassano(at)hotmail.it

MORE INFORMATION COMING SOON...

Author unknown

Gábor Tasnádi

Postdoctoral Researcher

Gábor Tasnádi

tel: +43-316-380-8646
e-mail: gabor.tasnadi(at)uni-graz.at

Our international lab fraction (German, Italian, French, Indian and Finnish) was strengthend when Gábor (Hungarian) joined our group in November 2010 as a PostDoc. He did his PhD studies in Hungary at the University of Szeged on the Pharmaceutical Institute before bringing his broad knowledge in organic synthesis and analytics to Graz. During his PhD program he spent several months in Mexico and experienced not only the Mexican way of life but also the Mexican way of chemistry (for example using cotton instead of filter paper for filtrations, if you're in a hurry). Characteristics like being patient, kind and observant make Gábor a pretty awesome lab mate, whom I often ask for help when facing any synthetic problem.

Of course Gábor doesn't work 24h a day. Playing squash is only one of his hobbies apart from that he is also attending German classes and visiting different places within and around Graz in his free time. To sum up - we're glad that Gabor joined our elk crew :).

Christiane Wuensch (2011)

Stefan Velikogne

Doctoral Student

Stefan Velikogne

tel: +43-316-380-8644
e-mail: stefan.velikogne(at)edu.uni-graz.at

Stefan is a Carinthian native but decided to swap mountains and lakes for chestnut avenues and the Schlossberg when he moved to Graz in 2008 to enroll in chemistry studies at Graz University of Technology. After obtaining his BSc, he moved again, this time to Berlin, and started studies in toxicology at the well-known Charitè. Apparently, the world of venoms wasn't his, though, and so he returned to Graz and studied biochemistry, again at the TU. With such a broad scientific background, Stefan would be a welcome addition to any research group, and it was actually out of coincidence (his original supervisor took up a position in industry) that he joined us this autumn for working on his Master's thesis. Stefan's research project is focused on the expression and functional characterisation of a set of novel imine reductases, which unfortunately makes him spend considerable time in the uncomfortable coldroom, sitting next to the FPLC, rather than in our cosy lab. Despite these difficult conditions, he's very motivated, friendly, and always in a good mood.

In his free time, Stefan proves just as versatile as in his academic career: he enjoys a visit to the opera, the theatre, or a museum just as much as a bike tour, a game of volleyball, or a day at the spa. Moreover, he likes crocheting and he's a passionate hobby botanist - his specialty is the growing of exotic fruits. So, if you ever experience problems with your avocado tree, I'm sure that Stefan can provide some helpful advice.

Jörg Schrittwieser (2014)

Christoph Winkler

University Assistant

Christoph Winkler

tel: +43-316-380-8676
e-mail: christoph.winkler(at)uni-graz.at

Christoph has a long history in the group. He did his master as well as his PhD in our group and in the meantime from a Padavan he turned to be a Jedi master of ene-reductases. The metaphor is not an accident, he's a fan of Star Wars, decorating his desk with all types of Lego figures. After graduation he visited industry but the wish for research led him back to the Elk-Crew in November, 2014. Nowadays he tries to broaden his skills on redox ezymes by using the Force to reduce carboxylic acids. Beside Star Wars he's also keen on designing and building non-existing Lego structures and figures (e.g., Clock Tower of Graz) followed by making professional pics of them. By the way, he likes photoshooting as well...

Gábor Tasnádi (2015)