Bioorganic Chemistry

The Elk Crew

We keep science in motion...

Group Leaders

Wolfgang Kroutil

Full Professor (biocatalytic synthesis)

Wolfgang Kroutil

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

Wolfgang is the kind of boss, with a door that is always open for the members of the 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 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

Mélanie Hall

Assistant Professor (sustainable bioorganic synthetic chemistry)

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 (2011)

Academic CV

Elk of Honour – Founder of the ElkCrew

Kurt Faber

Professor

Kurt Faber

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

As the founder of the ElkCrew (ask him for the story with the elk), Kurt was our boss for a long time. In the meantime, he ascended to being an "elk of honor", the highest of decorations there is. He is still 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. We are lucky that he is still around to let us benefit from his encyclopedic knowledge about (old) literature and especially younger elks like to listen to the stories he has to tell.

Author unknown

Additional Information:

Performance Record at UNIGRAZonline

Academic Staff

Silvia Glueck

University Assistant

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 University Assistant in the elk crew.

Author unknown

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 (2014)

Isabel Oroz Guinea

University Assistant

Isabel Oroz Guinea

tel: +43-316-380-8635
e-mail: isabel.oroz-guinea(at)uni-graz.at

Isabel was born and raised in marvelous Madrid, where she studied Pharmacy and obtained her PhD in Chemistry with a thesis on the stereoselective formation of C-C bonds. The love for travelling is the hallmark of her CV: she went to Strasbourg for her Erasmus, spent part of her PhD in Barcelona and she even flew to one of the most remote places on the face of the earth to pursue her curriculum in biocatalysis: Greifswald. There she not only survived the everlasting greyness, but also acquired extremely valuable expertise on protein engineering.

Basically now, whatever is your problem, expression, purification, cloning or whatever else with your "pet biocatalyst" go straight to her. She is always willing to squeeze you in her calendar (she is so organized that Melvin Udall - As good as it gets, ed - looks like a beginner); moreover she is going to go into the "library mode" and start numbering all the hosts known by humans (and aliens) you can express your protein in. With amazing drawings attached. Besides helping doomed chemists struggling with the microbiological world, she accomplishes her goals. She nails projects at the same speed she finishes a book. And when you compliment her, she will humbly reply "I did not do that much". We are very glad Isabel flew a little bit more in her lifetime travel, to be part of our group and share her knowledge with us.

Simona (2019)

Tamara Reiter

Chemical Technician

Tamara Reiter

tel: +43-316-380-8646
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 (2014)

Joerg Schrittwieser

Scientist

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 (2014)

Christoph Winkler

Senior Scientist

Christoph Winkler

tel: +43-316-380-5462
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 and many other enzymes. 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 uses the Force to shed light onto photoenzymes. 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 (2015)

Academic CV (PDF)

Researchers

Matteo AleottiKlara BangertSarah BergerEmmanouil ChatzakisLilla Gal (Cserepes)Dominik GroßVinz vom HagenBianca HilwegCorinna KawausIsabella KroschelElisa LanfranchiMartín López VidalMattia LazzarottoFrancesco MasciaStefan PayerMathias PicklMarko RathFederico RossiStefan SimićStephan VrablFlorian Weissensteiner

you may also check out the elk-alumni...

Matteo Aleotti

Doctoral Student

Matteo Aleotti

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

Matteo is another Italian PhD student in our group. He was born in the lovely town of Genova located in Northern Italy, where besides eating one of the world’s most delicious Pesto alla Genovese (at least in my opinion) he also spent his time on studying Chemistry. Particularly, he was focusing on the so fearful discipline of Organic Chemistry. After hearing rumours about a group in a town in Austria, which is known for using enzymes – big, biodegradable super catalysts – for implementation into Organic Synthesis, he couldn´t believe it. His curiosity finally drove him to do his Master Thesis during an Erasmus program, in the Elk group in Graz. From 2019 to 2020 on, he joined the group already as an unexperienced moose transforming Atropisomers with Alcohol Dehydrogenases. After finishing the Master Thesis, he travelled back to Italy earning his master’s degree at the University of Genova. It seemed that he was delighted by the field of biocatalysis, using enzymes as catalysts. To be honest it seems he was a little bit attached to the Elk Group and the beautiful City Graz as well, since he joined the group again in 2021 to start his PhD as a University Assistant. Now he is back, eagerly trying to nitrate everything what he gets his hands on, by the means of enzymes of course. Matteo is an enthusiastic, friendly, and very open-minded person, who is always ready for chattering around, welcoming new people and open for scientific discussions and advice. In a friendly way he will always try to explain you the difference between noodles and pasta or the proper Italian way of drinking an espresso. We can be grateful to have you again in our group Matteo. Welcome back.

Florian (2022)

Klara Bangert

Doctoral Student

Klara Bangert

tel: +43-316-380-8635
e-mail: klara.bangert(at)uni-graz.at

Klara is originally from Baden-Württemberg in the south of Germany and joined the elk-crew for her PhD studies in 2021. If you talk to Klara you might quickly realize that she has already come around a lot. After high school she went to Mexico for a voluntary social year which became a second home to her. After that, she started her natural science studies in Konstanz (Germany) and left the continent again to do an exchange semester in Chile where she fell in love with south America.

During an internship at the Institute of Molecular Enzyme Technology she worked with the PigC enzyme gaining high experience with the enzyme class of ligases. Her PhD thesis comprises an interesting approach consisting of a stay at the university of Graz followed by a secondment at a company in Belgium. During this time, she will work on the upscale of the synthesis of precursors in order to produce polymers from renewable biological resources. For this purpose, she works with P450- peroxygenases on the hydroxylation of fatty acids.

Klara is an extremely nice and open-minded person who is always willing to help. Apart from her appreciated scientific skills she is also multilingual, speaking not only German, English and Spanish but also Hungarian as her second mother tongue. Klara is a very positive person and due to her contagious laughter, we can be very happy to have her here as a new elk! Welcome!

Emmanuel (2021)

Sarah Berger

Doctoral Student

Sarah Berger

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

Sas is a true gentlewoman, even though she came from upper Austria. Due to her love for chemistry, she moved to Graz to study it. Although she joined the elk crew at an early stage of her scientific pathway, her young deer heart was also tempted by the Oberdorfer's group at the TU Graz, where she developed her passion for enzyme structures.

Please, don’t get fooled by her coy and calm attitude. Once she gets warm, fun is everywhere. She is a lovely person and one of the most helpful and nicest people walking on earth. Apropos walking, as I told you, she came from upper Austria and apparently, people there don’t learn to bicycle due to the uneven land (that’s what people say :P). Therefore, you will find her walking everywhere.

If you don’t find her in front of a computer analyzing enzyme structures and Corona wouldn’t exist, she would probably be in a bouldering hall (she has some damn strong arms!). She proves time by time her braveness by eating hot stuff. There is never a dull moment with her. Besides her funniness, you can always count on her when it matters most.

Erna (2021)

Lilla Gal (Cserepes)

Doctoral Student

Lilla Gal (Cserepes)

tel: +43-316-380-8646
e-mail:

Coming Soon

Dominik Groß

Technican

Dominik Groß

tel: +43-316-380-8676
e-mail:

Coming Soon

Elisa Lanfranchi

Postdoctoral Researcher

Elisa Lanfranchi

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

...is from Lecco (Italy), where the beautiful lake of Como is located. After her undergraduate studies in Milan, her new adventure started in Graz for a PhD at Acib GmbH with Prof. Toni Glieder and Margit Winkler. She was mostly hunting new enzymes for biocatalysis (HNLs and transaminases) in unconventional plants such as ferns from the styrian forests. Being very fond of research, she decided to do a PostDoc. The first one started in the Netherlands with Prof. Dick Janssen. There, she deepened her knowledge in biocatalysis and acquired knowledge in enzyme engineering with transaminases and demethylases. The 2nd PostDoc was then in the Department of Food Science, Ireland, working on enzymology of the human milk. Although the topic was interesting, Ireland was too far away from biocatalysis and the sun! Therefore, she decided to come back to Graz. By the end of 2019, Elisa started in our group to work on enzymatic cascaded for the valorisation of renewable resources. Beside research, Elisa is also a huge fan of taking adventurous travels, cooking or spending some social time out to party and since little Aki was born, getting sleep became one of her wishes. Elisa is a very communicative and helpful person and we are happy to have her in our group!

Erna (2020)

Mattia Lazzarotto

Postdoctoral Researcher

Mattia Lazzarotto

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

Mattia is our newest Italian PhD student. Despite being born and raised in the very north of Italy (Azzanello, Pordenone), he is still a very nice guy. Our excellent cook Mattia had both his bachelor and master in Trieste, where not only he became an expert of organic chemistry graduating with the highest mark, but also gained very valuable skills, like distinguishing between peppermint and estragon. Sporty and always on the move, Mattia travelled even further to the north, the Netherlands, for his master thesis. In rainy Delft he worked with Hydroxynitrile lyases (HNLs) and became extremely skilled in biocatalysis and enzyme immobilization. With all the expertise already acquired Mattia joined the Elk-crew in June 2018 to work on the biocatalytic C-H activation via α-ketoglutarate dependent diooxygenases. We are very glad to have Mattia on board, not only for providing delicious cakes, but and above all for the great passion and motivation that he brought to our group from the very first day we met him. Just a little warning. Do not ask him for directions, he only knows one answer: look at the Mur and turn right!

Simona (2018)

Mathias Pickl

Postdoctoral Researcher

Mathias Pickl

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

Mathias is rooted in Steyr, Upper Austria but luckily, we could lure him to Graz where he decided to study Chemistry and Biochemistry. Soon, he discovered his love for proteins and enzymes that finally led him to accept a position as Master student in the Elk Group, which inevitably led him to also pursue his PhD just there. After some joyful years of experimentation in Graz, it was decided that also others should benefit from his vast experience with flavin-dependent alcohol oxidases and the aroma of some of his thiol substrates and so he was sent off to the group of Marco Fraaje in Groningen (The Netherlands). After more than one year and equipped with many new ideas and skills he returned to Graz, ready to obtain his PhD.

Mathias certainly appreciates good cuisine, and we would consider him a talented hobby-chef — how else would you explain pheasant stewed in red wine or risotto with black chanterelle for lunch? Given this fondness for especially Mediterranean kitchen (and soccer clubs) he moved on to an 18-month postdoctoral stay with Pere Clapés at the Institute for Advanced Chemistry of Catalonia in Barcelona (Spain) as a FWF Schrödinger fellow. There, his chef-skills came in really handy when it came to developing a balanced recipe for an amine oxidase/aldolase cascade. Now, we’re glad to call Mathias a member of the Elk group again and enjoy his willingness to help in any situation (being it scientific or else), the smell of his lunch as well as his Spotify playlist in the lab.

Stefan (2021)

Florian Weissensteiner

Doctoral Student

Florian Weissensteiner

tel: +43-316-380-8635
e-mail: florian.weissensteiner(at)edu.uni-graz.at

Florian is a PhD 100% made in Graz. In fact, he spent all his theoretical studies at the Karl-Franzens University-Graz, learning from the first moment on how to handle a huge amount of enzyme related techniques. Attached to the elk crew, where he has been working as a summer student in four different occasions, learning how to handle ADHs and EREDs, he started his scientific career writing a bachelor thesis in biochemistry in the research group of Prof. Peter Macheroux. There he developed a method for apoprotein preparation of an OYE together with an experiment for the undergraduate lab course. Then he left Graz in an Erasmus+ program in Sweden (Lund University), learning more about advanced inorganic and organic synthesis. Unfortunately, Covid19 decided that the time in Sweden was enough, convincing him to come back to Graz. However, the elk call was so strong that his instinct brought him back to the other moose’s investigating innovative techniques related to cyanobacteria applying various types of enzymes for a novel NADPH recycling system, finishing his Master studies and thesis in October 2021. When you start being an elk you will be an Elk forever. Therefore, in November 2021 he decided to come back as an expert moose starting his PhD becoming a master of fatty acids. Out of science he is one of the best bakers you will ever meet. Bringing awesome cakes which have always the ability to surprise everyone with respect to the amazing cake design and of course the taste. Florian is an energetic, enthusiastic, skilled lab mate and also a joyful, trusted friend. It’s a great luck to spend these 4 year-long adventurous journeys with you, my friend.

Matteo (2022)