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About this episode
#51 — Antje Keppler is the Director of Euro-BioImaging Bio-Hub. In this episode of The Microscopists, Antje joins Peter O’Toole to discuss the recent explosion and expansion of techniques in microscopy and how Euro-BioImaging is helping researchers access these. They also chat about fishing in Scandinavia and her reaction after being told girls shouldn’t learn chemistry!
This is an automated transcript and may not be 100% accurate.
Peter O’Toole (00:00:14):
Today on The Microscopists I meet with Antje Keppler from Euro Bio imaging, Global Bio Imaging, and we chat about the recent explosion of new microscopy techniques and how Euro Bio imaging is helping researchers access these
Antje Keppler (00:00:28):
Euro bio imaging is an infrastructure open access infrastructure that democratizes access for all researchers to finally get the services they need in imaging, such as access to the latest microscopes.
Peter O’Toole (00:00:43):
We discuss her reaction after being told girls shouldn’t learn chemistry.
Antje Keppler (00:00:47):
I also will become a chemist and everyone went, no, no, no, no, no. You are a girl. You should not do that. Also at home. I, I also, right girl, I’m not chemistry. And that made me quite stubborn. I’m not a stubborn person. But in that moment I decided I will study chemistry.
Peter O’Toole (00:01:09):
We also discover her love of fishing and her early aspirations of being a skipper.
Antje Keppler (00:01:14):
But it’s probably where I really got the first passion for being at the sea and going for fishing and just being on boats. And I think when I was about 16, 17 for short period of time almost dreaming about making a license as a captain,
Peter O’Toole (00:01:33):
All in this episode of The Microscopist. Hi, I’m Peter O’Toole and welcome to The Microscopists. And today I’m joined by Antje Keppler who’s director of Euro Bio imaging. How are you today?
Antje Keppler (00:01:54):
Fine. Absolutely fine. A little bit hot, but
Peter O’Toole (00:01:59):
Yeah. It’s I think the temperatures, my office gets very hot and I actually, I didn’t put my blind down, so I’m gonna, I’m gonna bake by the end of this podcast, I think, but sounds like you are hotter where you are.
Antje Keppler (00:02:11):
Yeah. It’s close to 37, 38 outside. It feels like Sahara
Peter O’Toole (00:02:31):
I, I, we live in Britain, which means that temperature, half the people melt
Antje Keppler (00:02:35):
Peter O’Toole (00:02:49):
I love the irony that people actually, yeah, they, they spend big money to go on a hot summer holiday. Then they complain when the sun, the hot summer comes to them. But anyway, I, so, so your director of Euro bio imaging, let that start for those who aren’t aware.
Antje Keppler (00:03:04):
And just a quick note here director of Euro imaging bio hub, because the director of Euro imaging, Eric that’s John Eriksson.
Peter O’Toole (00:03:12):
Okay. So, so for you bio imaging and a role within global Bio imaging as well.
Antje Keppler (00:03:19):
Peter O’Toole (00:03:20):
So for those who are not aware, what is, what, what is Euro Bio imaging let’s start there?
Antje Keppler (00:03:29):
Euro Bio imaging is an infrastructure open access infrastructure that democratizes access for all researchers to finally get the services they need in imaging, such as access to the latest microscopes or also to those microscopes that they might have at home, but are broken right now or out of business, but also service support, expert support. They can call our team, ask for advice if they have a certain research problem and they don’t know yet what kind of imaging technology to use. We will bring them in touch with the people working at the node in neuro imaging. Then we have image data services to offer a lot of training offers. So anything if you need imaging and you don’t know exactly what or where and how or just want to chat about imaging Euro Bio imaging is the place to go to that’s Euro Bio Imaging since many years for me.
Peter O’Toole (00:04:26):
And this has a, it’s a distributed network across Europe.
Antje Keppler (00:04:31):
Peter O’Toole (00:04:32):
Antje Keppler (00:04:35):
Peter O’Toole (00:05:14):
And is that number growing
Antje Keppler (00:05:17):
Is that number is increasing? Yes. So we have a few node in the pipeline, so you might want to watch out for the news coming from Euro Bio imaging in the next days. And we are very much looking forward to raise our glasses then together with the successful applicants. And yes, this con process is continuing because. As we all know, imaging is, has been on a revolutionary track for the past decades and this will not stop soon. And therefore if we want to provide really good, excellent services to the incoming researchers, we also have to look at ourselves all the time and bring onboard new facilities, bring on what new technologies and services, but also maybe disseminate or get rid of those that are not requested anymore when it comes to technologies.
Peter O’Toole (00:06:08):
I think, I think, I think, again, it is the microscopy so we can talk microscopy, but it’s a lot, actually a lot of technologies in the scientific world. They’ve had an explosion and microscopy has been exceptional in the explosion of techniques and the advancement over the last 20, 30 years. I, I would say even 20 years, it’s really made big changes. And for my recollection, you Euro bio imaging started because some of this kit was costing a lot of money and you couldn’t have a microscope that costs that much in every university. So it made sense to try and create this philosophy that people could go and visit those sites, but the price has not gone up much. But now I would say the strength of Euro bio imaging. You said you have 150 different sites that are part of Euro bio imaging. Is that the proliferation of niche techniques? And if you are a scientist, you, there may be a technique close by. That’s good, but there may be a better one that’s best served. And I think the strength of Euro Bio Imaging going forward will be, it doesn’t matter what niche technique you want to get access to. There will be a site you’ve got access into. I, I think it’s kind of morphed into being maybe six big sites into lots of sites because the proliferation is just huge.
Antje Keppler (00:07:27):
Yeah. And in addition having the same machine in one environment, let’s say in France, in one facility and having the same machine in Czech Republic in a different facility, that can be two worlds for the researchers they can access to because of the surrounding expertise, the surrounding other services that are provided. It could be exceptional, for example, neurobiology and services for one resolution microscope in comparison to another one that is located in Vienna or Prague. And I think this is really what the researchers are looking for. They’re looking not for an instrument and again, they are alone by themselves. They are really looking for the quality managed expertise. They get together with the access to the instrument to acquire image data. So I, I think what the people benefit or the researchers will benefit from a Euro Bio imaging is they get reliable, fair image data they can trust. It might not maybe bring always the result that they were hoping for, but they can trust the data. And they have it quick instead of asking for the investment money putting them microscope into their lab, learning how to use it. And then they have to learn image, data management, image, data analysis, you name it or the pipeline, but in by accessing imaging core facilities and that this is true for facilities. They are really on the fast track to data they can really use and trust and Euro Bio imaging is just bringing it to the next level that we have called for all these cores out there that want to become part of a European infrastructure to be open beyond their local user community, but reach out to researchers coming in with new applications. They might not have access, had two internal reaching us out to their colleagues, learning from each other. So there are also a lot of benefits for the course coming into Euro Bio imaging by offering access together and working together on the imaging technology revolution.
Peter O’Toole (00:09:33):
And as I said, you know, my one technique that has seen this type of explosion of technologies in both the advancement, the cost the enabling and the proliferation of techniques, mass spec similarly has done the same, but I’m not aware of a similar push in the mass spec community. Why is microscopy or imaging cuz there’s this MRI involved in this too? Why, why, why, why, why imaging?
Antje Keppler (00:10:07):
So actually we do have mass spec imaging now in Euro Bio imaging as a proof of concept. And it actually is the most requested technology among our proof of concept technologies. So there is a push also for that one. But in general, why imaging? I think it brings us back to the seeing is believing argument that imaging is present in all research domains in the life sciences and also in the neighboring sciences. So we are now also in communi close communication with the material sciences because it’s really coming together in interdisciplinary. And yeah, it goes all the way into the environmental sciences. We are right now preparing for the Global bio imaging event and Montevideo Uruguay later this year and the topic there will be impact of imaging and the topics that are high up on the agenda cause they were brought in by our global partners, international partners are in the environmental sciences. So how imaging for example helps understanding the importance of biodiversity in the [inaudible] region or how imaging in the life sciences benefits tackling climate change by developing underwater microscopy, which is done at the Euro Bio imaging node in Israel. And these are things that usually we don’t think about it in the first minute when we think about the imaging technologies in the life sciences. But I, I think this is our national and Euro Bio imaging as well as global bio imaging telling the story that imaging is needed for many challenges that we are facing also as societies out there. And we want to make it visible cause it’s happening. It’s not a question that we have to invent it or push it. It’s there. It’s just that we are not so good yet in telling our stories and we are trying to, to make a difference there.
Peter O’Toole (00:12:06):
So just go, I’m going take you back a step now. So your director of the Euro Bio Imaging hub that right. That’s right. Yes
Antje Keppler (00:12:14):
Peter O’Toole (00:12:15):
Antje Keppler (00:12:20):
Yes. I started studying biochemistry at the Ruhr University in Bochum and yeah, by some chances I ended up in the bioorganic chemistry department, where I did my diploma see us? And that was in the lab of a young PI at the time. Kai’s Johnsson. And he got an offer at the end when we were finishing our diploma to continue his own work at the EPFL Lausanne and he invited us if we are interested to put the PhD there and I said, yes,
Peter O’Toole (00:15:15):
I love the fact you know was it 150? 60 was 156. You said
Antje Keppler (00:15:20):
Yes. Western blot
Peter O’Toole (00:15:21):
I love the fact we counted them always.
Antje Keppler (00:15:24):
Yeah. About specificity to really demonstrates only the, a slave then demonstrating that our labels were going through the yeast cell wall into the cell and then specifically labeling the a HGT and then increasing the speed. So we wanted, we, as we were lab for directed revolution at that time, we made it faster and faster and or more efficient. And that was 156 western blots
Peter O’Toole (00:15:56):
And it’s interesting. So I dunno what year that was. I’m presuming late nineties. Oh,
Antje Keppler (00:16:00):
Peter O’Toole (00:16:02):
Oh, see, one year later you could have just come and used us.
Antje Keppler (00:16:05):
Peter O’Toole (00:16:06):
You had the, did we have the culture facilities? We’d had the microscope and it’s amazing. It was only back really at the start of the millennial. I guess that core facilities started to spring up in very small numbers including EMBL, obviously with Stephan and Rainer Pepperkok and what they set up as an open access and service type provision, but you’re right. Otherwise you’d have needed to know someone who had it, who was happy to collaborate.
Antje Keppler (00:16:34):
Yes, indeed. I mean, we were lucky then. And from then on when, because it worked so beautifully, it was a lot of cloning for me different fusion proteins and then testing different flouro force, but it was quite stable. And I would say I had an extremely lucky and happy PhD time and most other PhD students always said, you cannot complain, just go home.
Peter O’Toole (00:17:03):
So how, how did you find moving to Switzerland?
Antje Keppler (00:17:08):
I would say retrospectively, it was a great time. We, but we were staying in this community of international PhD students. So I think so we were at, in the French speaking part of Switzerland, which was good because you can learn that language
Peter O’Toole (00:18:00):
You know, one of my quick fire questions for you is actually slightly different to most guests, which was sun, sea, or snow.
Antje Keppler (00:18:08):
What I like.
Peter O’Toole (00:18:09):
Yeah. What’s your preference.
Antje Keppler (00:18:11):
Peter O’Toole (00:18:13):
Sea, I wasn’t, I wasn’t sure, but
Antje Keppler (00:18:17):
Yeah, no, no, no. I’m I grew up on the beach of the Baltic sea. And from my window, I could see directly the waves when doing homework after school with, and that’s so to speak my Homeland and the sea, it always has been, unfortunately since I finished school, I moved around a lot, but never back to a seaside.
Peter O’Toole (00:18:40):
So you did send me some pictures and this one is of you holding a giant fish. So did you learn fishing when you were young then when you lived by the sea?
Antje Keppler (00:18:52):
Yeah, but I was Herring
Peter O’Toole (00:20:04):
Antje Keppler (00:20:05):
And we tried a little bit, we got hooked that summer and next year the gear was that size. So it felt half of the car. And now we are skipping the trip with the camping. We directly go to Lapland and, and mainly for fishing salmon and pike.
Peter O’Toole (00:20:23):
So, so your ideal holiday is up in the,
Antje Keppler (00:20:26):
In the north when it rains a little bit 11 degrees and yes, we are going in two weeks.
Peter O’Toole (00:20:34):
Oh, wow. So, so lots of sunlight then?
Antje Keppler (00:20:38):
Yes. But in August you can see it every day. How the day shortens in early August or mid of August, you have still have sun until 10 ish, half past 10 ish. And then it comes back at three o’clock. Whereas end of August, it’s, it’s down to nine o’clock, eight o’clock already in the evening. So it really changes during August, September a lot.
Peter O’Toole (00:21:01):
And so what other passions, what other outside of work interests, hobbies do you do?
Antje Keppler (00:21:08):
Global bio imaging is a hobby
Peter O’Toole (00:21:35):
That you got five Guinea, pigs. This could be very revealing. What are their names?
Antje Keppler (00:21:41):
Molly, like Molly Malone. Yeah. Winston like Winston Churchill. They have the two parents and then we have three little ones, but they are now also almost three years old, actually. It’s their birthday today. The fourth of August Woohoo. Okay. Just thinking about it that’s Emily, Ella, and an Tina, because we thought it’s an he and call it Anesto and then the vet said, no girl,
Peter O’Toole (00:22:10):
That I, I was gonna ask another question, which is who’s been an inspiration or who you’ve been your inspirations throughout your career. And so obviously Rainer Pepperkok has inspired you to become a Fisher person again. And so you’re taken up fishing. Who else would you say inside or outside life has been your inspirations?
Antje Keppler (00:22:31):
So definitely since I started with Euro Bio imaging, there were two persons I looked up to one was quite close that was Jan
Peter O’Toole (00:24:28):
So you talk about difficult times or stormy weather and everything else you say throughout your whole career. The biggest challenges you’ve had is during the Euro Bio imaging early days or in your post-doctoral or undergraduate days where what’s career wise, what’s been the most challenging or difficult time.
Antje Keppler (00:24:48):
Hmm. I think those early years in Euro Bio imaging, cause although I knew we are kind of, what we want to achieve is the right thing. But then the discussions could be very hard. And I think the peak was really one and one of the steering boards, someone named me the evil project manager. And the only thing I had done was take minutes.
Peter O’Toole (00:25:16):
Does that mean Jan was blaming you for everything? I was no,
Antje Keppler (00:25:20):
Got same. He was caught. And you, you, so, so we both got our compliments in that meeting and on the flight back from that meeting, we didn’t say much, but when the stewards came, we both said beer
Peter O’Toole (00:25:39):
Antje Keppler (00:25:43):
Yes. Yes. So, but I just
Peter O’Toole (00:25:45):
Wasn’t the cheek humorous thing say, oh, the evil project manager on
Antje Keppler (00:25:49):
Your no, no, no, no. That was meant. And it was we were still building translational bridges across communities for by the early days.
Peter O’Toole (00:25:59):
Oh, so how, okay. Besides hitting the bottle and drinking beer on the flies, how did you, how did you overcome those challenges?
Antje Keppler (00:26:11):
We had the longer breath
Peter O’Toole (00:27:06):
So, so I’m gonna take you back way back now. Cause we can see where you’ve ended up and, and the difficulties and challenges, which you’ve probably never signed up to. Cause not realizing that they would, at that point when you were a young girl, so 10, maybe around sort of that young age, what did you was? I think you’ve already, was it, what did you want to be? Was it a skipper or were there other passions that you wanted to be?
Antje Keppler (00:27:33):
No, no, actually it was already, when I was eight years old, my older brother had just started studying chemistry and he was the first person, our family going to university. And that was in the eighties, late eighties. And we were asked at school so what our family is doing and I was like, yeah, my brother starting chemistry. And they all went E cause it was the time of the first wave of awareness for environmental issues and chemistry was dirty river and dying trees. And I’m also offended by this next day I went to school and said, I also will become a chemist and everyone went, no, no, no, no, no, you are a girl. You should not do that. Also at home, I, I was like girl, not chemistry. And that made me quite stubborn. I’m not a stubborn person. But in that moment I decided I will study chemistry. I don’t know. And then over, over the years it stayed, but then we had this exercise at the public. It’s a public place where all students have to go to learn about what pro job profiles are out there, what professions are out there and then they have a full shelf or these catalogs where you can see what’s what’s what, and I pulled out the folder, reading biochemistry, cause I thought, oh, sounds interesting. And then the lady working at the public place who pass by and she said, you can’t put this back. You will not make it. And she didn’t know me. She didn’t know anything about
Peter O’Toole (00:29:42):
So, so actually I asked you who, who have been some of your inspirations and ironically, I would argue that your classmates and
Antje Keppler (00:29:51):
Peter O’Toole (00:29:51):
Antje Keppler (00:30:13):
That just, yeah. Yeah. Sometimes just a second that drops it and then
Peter O’Toole (00:30:17):
Yeah. It just, for whatever reason they grab hold of that and that, and it stick and that, that just drives them cause it’s just in the back of their always. And I think that’s a really good example, so. Okay. So, so you wanted to be a chemist and a skipper. You went into biochemistry because you’re gonna show them, you can do biochemistry and, and now you management arguably. So how, why the change into, outta the wet lab and into a ask me, who’s actually quite a lot of management these days, but why the change, how did you make that change?
Antje Keppler (00:30:54):
So I think that happened during the postdoc time. So I, after my PhD, as I said, which was really fantastic time, I picked up the flouro force and the fusion proteins, and I came to EMBL with this new technology, but I came out of a bioorganic chemistry environment and I had little clue about biology
Peter O’Toole (00:34:11):
And, and not look back since that was 2009.
Antje Keppler (00:34:14):
That, so that conversation was 2008 and Jan was also not sure if I’m the right person. Cause he knew this was quite a big story for him, but also for EMBL and it has to work out. So he sent me to the European strategy firm research for research infrastructure’s conference in Paris in December, 2018 as a sneak preview to, to see if I like what I see. And if I can make sense of out of what I will learn and here at this huge political conference where you had mainly representatives from research ministries, especially from the French one. And so you had to go really in suit and nicely dressed and was different world than anything that I had seen before, but I was into it. I saw it. I said, I like this. Yep. I want to put imaging here one day among all these big physical facilities, fusion, reactors ice vessels, you name it and imaging should have its place here. And I went back to Jan and said I still want to apply
Peter O’Toole (00:35:25):
It. It was a big risk though. Cause it, it can’t have been a long term contract.
Antje Keppler (00:35:29):
No, it was always hand most. But it worked out and I think I personally, I didn’t think about one that one too often. I just hope for the best and it worked out.
Peter O’Toole (00:35:42):
So, so, so now it’s a sustainable post. So, so you’ve got stability now. Not
Antje Keppler (00:35:46):
Stable, stable. No, no. It’s still the director at Euro Bio imaging is hired for five years and then it’s up to the Euro Bio imaging Board to decide so they will reopen the positions and then it’s up to the board to decide what they do with that. If we apply again or if we don’t apply again, or I think that’s in the future,
Peter O’Toole (00:36:09):
Right? I mean, I hope that Euro bio imaging becomes a, a sustainable
Antje Keppler (00:36:15):
Is fine. It’s just that the leadership will have a turnover as well as, so the staff that depends a little bit on where they are located at the EMBL, we are running under EMBL contracts at the University of Torino. They’re running under university Torino, CNR contracts. And in Finland, they are running under the area contracts. That’s probably the most stable because they’re it’s, the error can make the boards, but for the leadership, the directorate it’s in the statute the term of the fixed term.
Peter O’Toole (00:36:51):
So, so this post started pretty much is just yourself. How big a team do you have today?
Antje Keppler (00:36:59):
From Monday on we are 10 in the Bio hub and in to, you know, it’s about three to four and in Tuku it’s about six to seven these days, I would guess. Yeah.
Peter O’Toole (00:37:13):
And, and you know, you mentioned a, a lot of, I, I know from previous discussions, a lot of those were on shorter term contracts as well. So they’re gonna get worried about their futures you know, will it be refunded? Will there be the money will, will I have a job in six months time when it’s coming up towards the end of a contract. So you must have had a good flux of staff. And how do you, how do you manage that when you get a lot of staff leaving as you coming towards a grant end and having a whole new lot of staff coming in that haven’t got that knowledge that the others have bought.
Antje Keppler (00:37:45):
I that’s a challenge that is still ahead, but I’m really trying to be very transparent and fair and forward looking in this. So we are at the, still in the early days and most of the staff, or at least, yeah, most of the staff is hired on contracts that are linked to Euro Bio Imaging. So they will not finish in six months time. And those few positions that are really linked to external project funding, they just started. But they are also aware of this. But we are so extremely successful right now by applying for external funding that we rather have the opposite problem that we have too few staff and we are still in the growing phase. Although we are running out of desk space
Peter O’Toole (00:38:38):
But you, I, so if I’m thinking back to your original team where there was three or four of you
Antje Keppler (00:38:44):
Peter O’Toole (00:38:45):
How many of those are left?
Antje Keppler (00:38:47):
Oh, exactly. Yeah. So that was just round first year of off court that in the, in December, 2019, we were officially launched finally after 10 years of planning, as Euro Bio Imaging, and it was big and it was champagne. And now in the future look bright. In end of January, I learned that the first team member was looking for a career step and had an offer on the table for becoming head of something. And I said, sorry, I can’t compete with this because we are still more like a startup. And that very first time I wasn’t prepared because it was my, the first time it happened to me that someone said in the middle of the running contract and still some time to go sorry, I, I already found something. And then I was very lucky to run into another person who would then could take over this position very quickly and super efficiently. So there was no, no problem. And then two more people left during the Corona time for private reasons. Yeah. Because the family moved from one country to another country and in one case also, cause they were more interested to see what the industry world has to present after working for academia for some time in the end. I think if someone had told me in January, 2020 at the very early days, what would happen was odd people leaving and Corona hitting from me. I might have quit, but I learned you, you can survive no matter what, and things will work out and other exciting new people will join who have other strengths, but have strengths. And I’ve a fantastic team here and they are just the best
Peter O’Toole (00:40:54):
Of, of course you have to say that, cuz they’re listen here.
Antje Keppler (00:40:56):
No, no, no. I, I, I truly mean that’s yeah, they’re really the best.
Peter O’Toole (00:41:02):
No, I’ve, I’ve met most of them and they are really good.
Antje Keppler (00:41:06):
Yeah. I, I think many of maybe also the people might be listening to the podcast might have met those people at the ELMI. And I think you, can you that
Peter O’Toole (00:41:16):
Like thinking of ELMI, what is your favorite scientific conference?
Antje Keppler (00:41:22):
Peter O’Toole (00:41:22):
ELMI. And is this picture ELMI or is it somewhere else? Is this you?
Antje Keppler (00:41:27):
Oh, oh, okay. Okay. This is no, this is my second. So in private life, that would be my most preferred not conference. It’s a dance festival, a swing dance festival line hop which happened to take place every year in June in Heidelberg, before Corona, it’s called the chase. The title is based on a certain move that you can make. And that really has been a passion. Sorry, I forgot about that one because since Corona started and since you Euro Bio Imaging got in this very intense phase, I haven’t danced a step in the past three years. And I’m so sorry about this. I
Peter O’Toole (00:42:08):
ELMI and I’m sure you were on the dance floor, ELMI. I know you were on the dance floor at ELMI
Antje Keppler (00:42:12):
Yeah. I, I was on the dance floor, but there was no Lin hop music.
Peter O’Toole (00:42:15):
Yeah. Okay. Well you could have asked a DJ.
Antje Keppler (00:42:18):
Yeah, next time I would, I would, no, this the Lin hub is something that I started in 2012 and it hit me. That was really, I can only recommend it to everyone who loves jazz music or loves dancing. It’s wonderful dance. It’s very flexible. You don’t have those fixed rules. It’s about reading your partners phase at play like the music interpret the music in that very moment. Improvise. It’s fun.
Peter O’Toole (00:42:52):
I’ve not tried it. So something else I might have to go away and try at some point, but
Antje Keppler (00:42:59):
I just, just watch it on YouTube, a few videos. And of course, don’t try to, to copy what they’re doing there at the championships, but it’s really fun. It’s a very social dance. You’re also not going with one partner for all the time, but you go for two songs and then you change the partner. And by this, you get to know many, many people experience a lot of different dance styles and that’s flow for,
Peter O’Toole (00:43:27):
I, I can see why coronavirus stopped it for, for a couple of years. If you constantly changing partners and dancing close though, I can see maybe not the best environment
Antje Keppler (00:43:57):
Peter O’Toole (00:44:06):
Antje Keppler (00:44:07):
Waste jacket. I like them a lot. And, but at work I never have the opportunity really it’s I use it also for Lindy hop. And yesterday when I was watching one of the microscopist podcasts, I saw this and I said, OK, let’s go for it.
Peter O’Toole (00:44:23):
I’m glad I chose to wear it today. I don’t wear it for every podcast.
Antje Keppler (00:44:26):
I was, I was wondering if I should send you a hint, but then I let it be,
Peter O’Toole (00:44:30):
I’ve gotta say, I love a waist jacket. It’s just, just that you get a shirt. It looks formal, but it’s casual as well with a pair of jeans. It’s
Antje Keppler (00:44:37):
Yeah. It like, you’re never dressed strongly. So it’s, it’s always perfect.
Peter O’Toole (00:44:43):
Yeah. I was quite quite tough when he looks like it. Oh my God. I’m looking in the mirror. Not literally. It was very similar to, for sure.
Antje Keppler (00:44:50):
Peter O’Toole (00:44:54):
You know, let’s go some quick fire questions. I’ve done that one, Mac or PC
Antje Keppler (00:45:03):
Peter O’Toole (00:45:04):
Mcdonald’s or burger King’s, that a neither isn’t it.
Antje Keppler (00:45:11):
Peter O’Toole (00:45:12):
You go to a conference. You, you, you, you are, you’ve invited speaker at a conference. You get taken out for dinner. What are be your favorite food that they could serve in front of you?
Antje Keppler (00:45:22):
So, but not that McDonald’s or burger king, but somewhere
Peter O’Toole (00:45:24):
Else? No, no, no. Just your favorite. What would be the best foods someone could put in front of you to eat when you go, when you are invited out
Antje Keppler (00:45:31):
Asian, vegetarian food.
Peter O’Toole (00:45:34):
Okay. And what would be the worst food that they could put in front of you?
Antje Keppler (00:45:39):
Peter O’Toole (00:45:40):
Antje Keppler (00:45:41):
Yeah, especially when it’s not cooked. Well then I can’t. I just it’s a childhood trauma
Peter O’Toole (00:45:51):
Antje Keppler (00:45:53):
No, no, it’s just I can’t swallow it. I, I just don’t doesn’t work.
Peter O’Toole (00:45:59):
So not a rash decision. That’s a really bad,
Antje Keppler (00:46:01):
Oh no, no, just not working
Peter O’Toole (00:46:04):
Tea or coffee,
Antje Keppler (00:46:06):
Both. So in the morning, first, a cup of tea with milk, and then the coffee is already cooking on the stove and then coffee after that
Peter O’Toole (00:46:17):
And then evening
Antje Keppler (00:46:20):
Peter O’Toole (00:46:22):
So next question was gonna be beer or wine. So beer, I presume,
Antje Keppler (00:46:27):
Yeah. Beer, I think
Peter O’Toole (00:46:30):
Chocolate or cheese,
Antje Keppler (00:46:32):
Peter O’Toole (00:46:34):
Dark or milk?
Antje Keppler (00:46:35):
Peter O’Toole (00:46:37):
Antje Keppler (00:46:39):
Pretty dark 75 80.
Peter O’Toole (00:46:42):
Okay. That’s yes. Good darkness.
Antje Keppler (00:46:46):
Peter O’Toole (00:46:46):
I haven’t asked this before. Warm more cold chocolate. So room temperature or fridge
Antje Keppler (00:46:52):
Peter O’Toole (00:46:55):
Yeah. For dark. Yes. But for other chocolates.
Antje Keppler (00:46:57):
Yeah, because then really?
Peter O’Toole (00:47:00):
Yeah. Book or TV that’s
Antje Keppler (00:47:02):
Pet, I guess.
Peter O’Toole (00:47:04):
Yeah, yeah. Yeah. The nice thing about dark chocolate is yeah. Lack of sugar in it. Well,
Antje Keppler (00:47:08):
Peter O’Toole (00:47:09):
At least book or TV.
Antje Keppler (00:47:15):
So the right answer would be book, but I think the answer that fits more or more realistic these days is TV.
Peter O’Toole (00:47:22):
And do you have any TV vices, anything that you shouldn’t tell us about because it’s just an appalling tasting TV, but you were about to tell us about
Antje Keppler (00:47:33):
Yeah. You mean something I watch and I shouldn’t,
Peter O’Toole (00:47:37):
That’s really trashy or just,
Antje Keppler (00:47:42):
I don’t know what I’m currently watching and it’s a bit older I understand is Morgan, which is this Danish production set in the yeah. Political landscape of Denmark about 10 years ago. And I must say I really adore the main actor and how she plays that role as politician and as a woman. So yeah. That’s not trash, but that’s what I have recently been watching.
Peter O’Toole (00:48:13):
No, that’s a good answer. In fact, a recent podcast had a very similar answer. That is what, what is these, these scandi dramas? And I notice you, you, you, you love going up to,
Antje Keppler (00:48:22):
Yes, I love, yeah. The Danish language is
Peter O’Toole (00:48:27):
If you could live anywhere, where would you live?
Antje Keppler (00:48:36):
I guess that would be Lapland. Yeah.
Peter O’Toole (00:48:40):
That was interesting question. Just what about your favorite film?
Antje Keppler (00:48:46):
My favorite film of all times.
Peter O’Toole (00:48:48):
Antje Keppler (00:48:50):
Okay. That’s not a bit cheesy, but it’s Out of Africa.
Peter O’Toole (00:48:54):
Antje Keppler (00:48:56):
Yeah. I I just love this opening scene. I had a farm, I had a farm in Africa. I saw that when I was eight years old, the first time I was just like, whoa,
Peter O’Toole (00:49:09):
But you choose to go to Lapland instead. I can see the
Antje Keppler (00:49:26):
I think that’s German production from seventies, eighties. I’m not sure this is known outside Germany. It’s done by the comedian
Peter O’Toole (00:49:51):
It sounds good. See, Brits, we just don’t grab that sort of thing. It doesn’t come back over, but it sounds like it’s, it should be very,
Antje Keppler (00:49:57):
I think it’s the humor is based a lot on the language. It would be difficult to catch
Peter O’Toole (00:50:03):
Antje Keppler (00:50:05):
Peter O’Toole (00:50:05):
Okay. Night owl or early bird,
Antje Keppler (00:50:09):
Peter O’Toole (00:50:11):
Okay. And favorite item of clothing? Waste jacket. Fair enough. I star Trek or star wars.
Antje Keppler (00:50:22):
Peter O’Toole (00:50:25):
Not the right answer, but to forgive you
Antje Keppler (00:50:29):
Peter O’Toole (00:50:30):
I I’ve asked you to most guests. I haven’t done a straw poll. I’d love to know how many have gone star Trek. How many have gone star wars? Quite a lot of, yeah. Star wars is gaining popularity. Again,
Antje Keppler (00:50:43):
It’s more digestible when you’re very busy. Cause you, you manage star wars during your weekend, but you never watch manage star trek during the weekend.
Peter O’Toole (00:50:52):
That’s true. But you can pick it up and drop it though. If you, you realize, I,
Antje Keppler (00:50:56):
I mean, I should try
Peter O’Toole (00:50:58):
And pick hard actually. Yeah. I’ve gotta pick that back up again with my son. You send me some,
Antje Keppler (00:51:03):
I add another favorite movie cause that I might even like that one more and it’s so close to the microscopist because the godfather,
Peter O’Toole (00:51:11):
Antje Keppler (00:51:12):
One. I dunno how many times I watched that.
Peter O’Toole (00:51:18):
Yeah. All good films.
Antje Keppler (00:51:21):
Peter O’Toole (00:51:22):
You sent me some other pictures. So would you like to describe, I presume this is a global bio imaging meeting.
Antje Keppler (00:51:30):
Yes. so that is the global Bio Imaging management board assembled in Singapore in September, 2019. And that was the last time that global Bio Imaging management board met in person. And I’m very much looking forward to meet all these guys in person again in Europe in Uruguay wanted to deal in September and this year?
Peter O’Toole (00:51:50):
Yeah. And actually I’ve just seen that picture with Graham Wright. And I owe him an email from earlier today.
Antje Keppler (00:51:59):
That is also global Bio Imaging. It’s in 2006, no, in 2017 and September at in Bangalore at the national center for biological sciences. So it was hosted by Kushner and his colleagues was fantastic meeting.
Peter O’Toole (00:52:17):
I, I haven’t asked what is the difference between global bio imaging
Antje Keppler (00:52:22):
And Euro Bio imaging? Uh very good that you asked because I always like to tell the difference. So you imaging as an infrastructure. You can touch even if it’s distributed or by Europe, but finally, when you get to the node, you can touch the instrument. You can talk to the people. Whereas global bio imaging is a network made by people for people. And in this case, it’s staff working at facilities, managers of infrastructure and it’s building capacities and networking each other around the globe to, to help each other with challenges, but also to, to train each other on items that for example, core directors have to with, its a meeting a network platform
Peter O’Toole (00:53:11):
Starting, starting with training as well. Is that right? As in mentorships or
Antje Keppler (00:53:16):
Yes, we have, we have the global bio imaging developing training program since 2020 in place which is run by GL here in the, the team. And we are offering job shadowing program where we have travel grants for people to go from one from their facility to another facility in another continent to stay for two, three weeks, learn from each other. They can even turn this around that they it’s that the facility stopped let say from Europe cost then to Australia and back. And we have the virtual training portal where you can find a lot of training resources already made, produced in global bio imaging, but also by external sub we have international training courses and now we are also coming to a phase where we can offer them in person as originally planned until recently we changed into virtual courses. And it’s all aim the, the audience for the training activities are staff working at imaging facilities. Mm-Hmm,
Peter O’Toole (00:54:20):
Antje Keppler (00:55:19):
So I thought it was really cool that we had someone who’s not started university yet. We had someone who’s doing a PhD and we have someone who’s actually now mature in, in job, in post as it were all at the same time, which I can take little credit for that’s my team who really look after them. And okay, so Andrew came, I, I spent most of my time with peer to peer on that side. And then Claire, Karen Graham, ground Joe, and the other, Karen God, I, I hope I haven’t missed anyone were helping pass on their knowledge and expertise to the others and still going,
Antje Keppler (00:55:53):
Oh, that’s wonderful. And I really like that you have these different levels of expertise and training all around at the same time.
Peter O’Toole (00:56:01):
It, it was, it was an altercation to have them all at once. It was a bit, but it was like, oh my goodness, we have to capture this moment.
Antje Keppler (00:57:09):
Yeah, yeah. It’s it’s many times it’s about inspiration. Right. And that’s what I hope that Euro Bio imaging can also achieve. Even if it’s not officially immersed, but that just by the, and the spirit that people are showing that we can have this inspiration or be this inspiration maybe for others sometimes. And that’s what I’m looking for also, and people when I’m hiring. I, you know, I, I really want to see that sparkle in the eyes of about the idea about the concept of being there to help others doing the best they can with their research and taking yourself out of that line. So it’s not about our career anymore. It’s really about enabling others. And if I don’t see that spark, I don’t care how senior that person is or what the recommendation that’ll say. It’s just that person will not fit.
Peter O’Toole (00:58:07):
No, I think that’s a really good point. Actually. I was, again, we actually had one of the core facilities in Prague come and visit today this morning. Yeah. This morning in two lunchtime. And he was great. Yeah. He’s such a good fit for that type of role cuz and we spoke about the different roles in core facilities and you have those that do those, that, but it’s those who inspire those who consider vision, those who like yourself, take it home, you know, you don’t deliberately take it home. You take it home cuz you’re passionate about it and you are, you know, it consumes your weekends. I, I would say at that point it’s not just a job, it’s a passion
Antje Keppler (00:58:46):
Because if it’s a job it’s too tiring, it’s too exhausting. And of course also being enthusiastic can eat a lot energy. But for example, you ask me, which is my favorite conference. And when I go to ELMI of course I’m super tired, especially after the Thursday. But it gives you triple times back. And this is where I get the energy then for the next 51 weeks to go ahead because I’ve seen how much our work can benefit the community how we can make a difference, especially in the early years. You might remember when I had to go up there on that stage every Thursday, just ahead of lunch and tell them, Hey, hi guys. Not yet there, but next year
Peter O’Toole (00:59:52):
Yeah. It was a tough gig at times that,
Antje Keppler (00:59:55):
And people were also of course starting to doubt that we ever make it. And yeah,
Peter O’Toole (01:00:02):
I, I, and I think a lot of credit, not just to yourself, but also to Jan. So I did a podcast with as well. And he talks about the, the politics at senior levels and, and the difficulties within that all, no,
Antje Keppler (01:00:19):
Yeah, he’s just biologist that’s happening in one.
Peter O’Toole (01:00:24):
Actually he was, he is, he is a biologist and
Antje Keppler (01:00:28):
Peter O’Toole (01:00:29):
No-one trained him to deal with politicians and, and it’s, I think the political wellness of bare pit it’s, it’s really aggressive. It’s really there’s motives that you don’t appreciate to start with. And I think, yeah, this actually should just listen to Jan’s listening note, listen to Jan’s podcast, cuz there’s so much good advice in there. Yeah. Of dealing with these things and the importance of dealing with it. It’s it’s not an easy job at
Antje Keppler (01:00:55):
All. Oh. And that’s what I meant that I learned so much from Jan by just watching and those also more difficult discussions and meetings, how he reacts to aggression or false arguments or just some people saying stop, I don’t want this. What you’re saying. I will do nevertheless, what I want and for hours he would go back even after a long days at six o’clock in the evening after we had already the meeting for eight hours, he would go back to the principal repeated in his calm voice. Everyone wanted to kill him likely for that voice already, just, just going back, bringing it back to the principal. And we had this recipe of developing procedures, transparent criteria, independent evaluation. And that was the recipe for euro Bio Imaging. So no matter what we did it was, was choosing technologies to come on board or choosing the facilities to come on board or talking to the ministries, transparency procedures criteria, tell them upfront and then independent evaluation. And then you are what proof for almost any storm.
Peter O’Toole (01:02:09):
I, I, I think defendable for any storm, but unfortunately reasoned arguments. Weren’t always, it’s not a scientific politics is not a scientific world where a good, good reason, like a grant application, you put it in and it’s judged.
Antje Keppler (01:02:22):
I mean sometimes you come to a point where you have then to take out other weapons
Peter O’Toole (01:02:56):
I say, we have just gone over the hour, mark. So my apologies for not keeping this on time, but I have to ask because you love your job. You’re passionate about your job. We we’ve, we’ve talked a lot about some of the difficulties, but what’s been some of the most fun times that you’ve had.
Antje Keppler (01:03:14):
I think when you, so for me, the best part was in the early years we were going country to country, to country to talk to the national imaging communities, to get them on board. And they were not there yet. I mean, there was no Spanish Bio Imaging, France Bio Imaging, maybe in the early days. That was one of first. But I had so many times, probably more than 20 times I walk into the room in the morning, there was maybe one person in that country that knew about Euro Bio imaging and the concept that was usually the local organizer and invited me. And then you had 30 skeptical people sitting there in front of you, all a bits tired. And I go, okay, why do I waste my time for what? And then I started presenting Euro Bio imaging. Then you had 30 minutes of difficult skeptical questions, full of concerns about this cannot be true. What is you talking about? And then that’s that click. And then you saw the first smilers smiles on some faces and then more. And then during the lunch break, they were approaching me saying, this is cool. Yeah, let’s do this. And in the evening, when I was on my flight back, you had another country, bio imaging, Danish, bio imaging Swedish, bio imaging, you name it. And it was really, that was cool. That was,
Peter O’Toole (01:04:35):
I will say I was one of those skeptics in the early days. So, so, so I would say it took a lot of twisting to convince me that this would work. I, I, I, I am now there, but it took a long time to get me there.
Antje Keppler (01:04:49):
Peter O’Toole (01:04:50):
Antje Keppler (01:04:50):
I forget that it’s I heard many, many arguments and I still remember one of those meetings where I was sweating a lot. Cause the arguments, it was a debate, a real debate. And that wasn’t hungry.
Peter O’Toole (01:05:06):
I, I, I think the idea, I, I, I was always York. We are an open access facility, always have been. So my, my argument was why do we need it? But now I, and now I’ve thought this for a lot of things. Why do we need it? Why do we need it formalized? And then when you see what the once it’s formal, just how many more people it brings.
Antje Keppler (01:05:27):
Yeah. And also
Peter O’Toole (01:05:28):
It enable, empowers people to know that they can do stuff. And I think that’s really powerful. And so think that I I’d underestimated. Certainly. So there you are. So I think it’s a great initiative. We need to get UK there and re coming.
Peter O’Toole (01:05:44):
Yeah. So I had hope for
Peter O’Toole (01:05:50):
Yes. Right. Anyway, Antje we are out of time. Everyone. Thank you for listening to The Microscopist. If you’d like to please subscribe to whichever channel you are listening to it on. Antje you’ve being great. And Jan Ellenberg and other guests, please go listen to that one. Cause that is so close to what we’ve been talking about today, but Antje yourself, I think is an inspiration to many people. And I think it’s also great to see that you can go through determinedly through your chemistry, to your biochemistry and change careers, but still have the same or even greater influence now on the scientific community than you may have done. If you’d have carried on down the post-doctoral route. So there are other careers out there that I think are equally empowering, passionate, fun and can still have a massive effect on science and helping many, many people instead of maybe just one research, Antje. Thank
Peter O’Toole (01:06:44):
You. Thank you so much for the opportunity. Peter was
Antje Keppler (01:06:47):
Pleasure. Absolutely pleasure.
Thank you for listening to The Microscopists, a Bitesizebio podcast sponsored by Zeiss microscopy to view all audio and video recordings from this series, please visit bitesizebio.com/themicroscopist