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Joerg Bewersdorf (Yale University)

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About this episode

#31 — Joerg Bewersdorf is a leader in developing fluorescence microscopy techniques for biomedical research, such as Pan-Expansion microscopy. In today’s entertaining episode of The Microscopists, we chat to Joerg about his early dreams of space, training as a physicist, straight talking, the (very important) hierarchy of deserts, and making a microscope out of gingerbread (it even had a lens!). Tune in for more inspiring insights.

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This is an automated transcript and may not be 100% accurate.

Intro/Outro (00:00:02):
Welcome to The Microscopists, a Bitesize Bio podcast hosted by Peter O’Toole, sponsored by Zeiss Microscopy. Today on The Microscopists.

Peter O’Toole (00:00:19):
Today on The Microscopists, I’m joined by Joerg Bewersdorf of Yale University, and we discuss his career path from wannabe theoretical physicist to cell biologist and biomedical engineer.

Joerg Bewersdorf (00:00:32):
I realized I was actually much more motivated by doing physics, which other people cared about

Peter O’Toole (00:00:40):
Staying away from his lab equipment.

Joerg Bewersdorf (00:00:44):
But when I go into that and I approached the microscope a little bit too closely, my lab members start to stiffen up and like it, hopefully it’s not touching anything.

Peter O’Toole (00:00:52):
The very important question of what constitutes desert.

Joerg Bewersdorf (00:00:56):
Here’s a whole, a whole kind of classification of desserts, which I find is very important.

Peter O’Toole (00:01:03):
And gingerbread microscopes.

Joerg Bewersdorf (00:01:05):
The problem is after a few days, the microscope collapsed. So I think the humidity was too high.

Peter O’Toole (00:01:10):
Oh, in this episode of The Microscopists.

Peter O’Toole (00:01:20):
Hi, welcome to this episode of The Microscopists. I’m Peter O’Toole from the University of York. And today I’m joined by Joerg Bewersdorf from Yale school of medicine, Jeorg. Hello, how are you today?

Joerg Bewersdorf (00:01:31):
I’m great. Thank you. How are you?

Peter O’Toole (00:01:34):
Really good busy day, but I’m really looking forward to this. I’ve got lots of questions. Actually we’ve run a course recently and we actually had a technical problem with one of our demo demonstration slots on spinning disk, because I believe that the and-or dragon fly was sent over to your course over in Alison North. And it hasn’t arrived back in the UK in time.

Joerg Bewersdorf (00:02:03):
Oh, what can I say?

Peter O’Toole (00:02:08):
I presume the dragon fly was beautiful and worked wonderfully.

Joerg Bewersdorf (00:02:12):
Just do it. I’ve seen it. It was fantastic. It really was the best ever. I’m so sad that

Peter O’Toole (00:02:20):
We had to invent a whole new practical session where that would slot in. So obviously we got the 980, we got the airy scans, the liras, but we didn’t have the spinning disk. So actually we did talk about you oddly enough, not because you had my spinning disk, but we talked about expansion, microscopy, which we’ll come to later, I’d like to start off slightly differently today. I’d like to ask you when you were 10 years old, what did you want to be?

Joerg Bewersdorf (00:02:51):

Peter O’Toole (00:02:52):
Astronauts. So very similar to Eric Betzig. So when you were 16 to 18, what did you want to be?

Joerg Bewersdorf (00:03:02):
A, a cosmologist kind of a physicist, kind of a like theoret, theoretical physicist, I guess.

Peter O’Toole (00:03:10):
So none of this is quite panning out yet with your current career. So today, if you could do anything, what would you be?

Joerg Bewersdorf (00:03:20):
I, I really like where I’m at right now. I think. Yeah. I liked, I liked my professional, like the field I’m in. Yeah.

Peter O’Toole (00:03:30):
Okay. So let’s come to that. So obviously you said a 16, 18, you, you like the physics and the cosmo side of things, and I think your first degree was in physics, is that correct? Now, that was over. I looked at Heidelberg Freiburg. Glasgow.

Joerg Bewersdorf (00:03:48):
Yeah. Freiburg, Glasgow Heidelberg. Yep.

Peter O’Toole (00:03:52):
That’s moving around a fair bit.

Joerg Bewersdorf (00:03:54):
It wasn’t that uncommon. So, so I was still in at that time we got the, not a master, a bachelor degree and we got this diploma degree, which was a five-year degree in Germany. And there was this intermediate exam after two years and I took that in Freiburg and it was quite common to then do a year abroad after that. And for that, I went with the Erasmus program to Glasgow and, and off of that, instead of going back to Freiburg, I just decided to go to Heidelberg because they, the, the courses they offered, the specialty courses, they offered were a little bit more aligned with what I then wanted to do.

Peter O’Toole (00:04:35):
So I presume Heidelburg was a very big influence on your career going forward.

Joerg Bewersdorf (00:04:43):
Yeah, actually I think the, the biggest, they, they were two important breaks, I would say in my career path, within the physics world, the first one was in, in, in Glasgow actually, where I was introduced to medical physics before I was always considering myself, I become like this theoretical physicist who works on physicists problems. I don’t know how old is the universe, these kind of questions. And then I realized I was actually much more motivated by doing physics, which other people cared about rather than the people just within your own community and the medical physics lecture. I or a course I attended in Glasgow was really fascinating to see how you could use physics, to really build new MRI scanners, or CT scanners, et cetera. And that was became a big motivator for me. And because of that, I went actually Heidelburg then, and then I thought I’d become a medical physicist, like yeah, bill, maybe work for Siemens or Philips, so, and built like CT scanners. So and, but I thought, oh, I should take one optic scores before I finally into this field, because optics is kind of related and you probably need it. It’s super boring. I totally like what we did in high school was like, I mean, seriously, it was just the lens here a few lines there and they all need, and it was a science and call signs adding up, but like, yeah, nothing really fun going on there. But I thought I better take that course because that’s my last chance. And in that course was taught by a young assistant professor. Essentially, you have to kind of look more in the junk drawer who had to fulfill his teaching obligations and he offered this, this two-week block course in Heidelberg over the summer break. And I thought, great, I’ll do this for two weeks. And then after two weeks, I’m done never optics again. Well, it turned out that that course was actually really interesting and that the assistant professor whose name you might remember is Stefan Hell. He really managed to connect these optics concepts to really the latest and greatest in microscopy. And I thought, wow, this is actually really cool. And, and that was essentially then the way I shifted to kind of the analog you want to call it biophysics or rural. Yeah. So, yeah,

Peter O’Toole (00:07:13):
It’s actually, it’s, it’s interesting. Cause obviously that was before Stefan got his Nobel prize. And I

Joerg Bewersdorf (00:07:20):
Think we forget that just come back from Finland.

Peter O’Toole (00:07:23):
Yeah. I think we forget that a lot of say to Richard Henderson, Eric Betzig who are on these podcasts, they’re known for their Nobel prize outside their field, but you also, you maybe forget sometimes just how they’ve inspired many other very successful and leading and inspiring people outside of their lab. This also kick-started their career. It’s not just about dev ideas that they’ve developed. They have this legacy that spreading out

Joerg Bewersdorf (00:07:56):
Well. I’m not sure I would count myself into that legacy, but I, yeah, I think you are you’re right. Yeah. I think there’s some something they have this, I don’t know that they have a such a high level enthusiasm, which is really contagious. I think that that they might be part of this secret there.

Peter O’Toole (00:08:17):
So you wouldn’t count yourself as enthusiastic then

Joerg Bewersdorf (00:08:21):
Come. That may be yes.

Peter O’Toole (00:08:23):
Yeah, absolutely. I’ve seen your presentations and they are inspiring. Is that your last one? It’s one of the very few that I actually listened to and thought, okay, I don’t know if we have a need, but I’m going to try this. And so actually I have a student at the moment working on expansion microscopy. I’ve heard about it before, but it was seeing the results, the very latest results that I think changed the essential need for us to do, to start to do better at this at York for our end users. So we actually have a Savas working on this as an intern students at the moment, doing his PhD, and trying to work this up. And I have lots of questions after this podcast

Joerg Bewersdorf (00:09:06):
And I’m happy to answer that. I think I’m still very excited about that stuff right now. Yeah.

Peter O’Toole (00:09:12):
So after your PhD, you did a postdoc at Max Planck. Again, I think you followed the Stefan with that, is that correct?

Joerg Bewersdorf (00:09:21):
Yeah, I already did my I essentially stayed after it after that optic scores. Okay. I essentially immediately joined Stefan’s lab first for an internship, which then turned into a master thesis, which then turned it into a PhD thesis, which then turned into a post-doc. And I, I essentially stayed with them for a year. So something like that the, the PhD wants a semi independent from Stefan in that it was actually at Leica yeah Stefan was still my, my PhD mentor during that time.

Peter O’Toole (00:09:54):
Okay. This there’s a train of thought that you should move around. And we’ll come to that in a moment, but you did your undergraduate sort of with with Stefan, you did your PhD or masters PhD, post-doc with Stefan. So arguably, you stayed in the same group. Did anyone say to you that that is career suicide, you should move, even though you’re working in one of the premier labs in the world, did anyone actually suggest to you that maybe you should move somewhere else

Joerg Bewersdorf (00:10:25):
And actually, no. No, but I, I think this might actually, I only got introduced to that thought when I moved to the US. Maybe it’s not so much part of the German academic culture, at least at that time, or maybe it was just my immediate neighborhood. But yeah, no, it, it was, it was, I think it was clear that you were up to something great there. And it was just super exciting watching kind of this happened around us. Like when I came to Stefan, I think, I think I might’ve been the first person who started in Germany when he in his lab when he came. I mean, he brought people including Germans with him when he came from from Finland. But I was kind of his first new hire in Germany and and we were like five people in Stefan’s lab maybe six or so when I left, there were 35 people. So, I mean, it’s just that you could see the whole thing kind of grow and become bigger and yeah. And w I was just smack in the middle of it and it was gonna be fun.

Peter O’Toole (00:11:34):
Wow. That’s a lot. So I actually, I’m very similar. I stayed in, I did my, my research project in a lab of Richard Cherry doing moved into single molecule imaging back in the early nineties and Gaussian fitting. And your why leave a really inspiring lab. There comes a time where you have to strike out yourself.

Joerg Bewersdorf (00:11:57):
Yeah, yeah, you’re right. I mean, when I then moved to the US it was also exciting to suddenly get bit B in this new environment and get all these new inputs. So, so yeah, I, I then started to appreciate what I later on learned. What’s good advice to to actually put once in a while, change your environment. I think it, it, it, it does push you to new levels and, and gives you a new insights and yeah, it makes you develop your own focus maybe a little bit better.

Peter O’Toole (00:12:33):
So you moved obviously to Glasgow for a short time and then back into Germany, and then you moved over to the US how, you know, you’re very young at that point. How did you find, how did you cope with those moves? Was it daunting? Was it exciting? Were there problems with moving those physical distances?

Joerg Bewersdorf (00:12:53):
I think for me, it was less of a problem than for my family. I mean, I brought my wife and my, my two year old with me and my wife was pregnant and I think seven or eight months or so. And I really have to give a lot of credit to my wife that she did that move with me during that time. And yeah, for me, it was, for me, it was not that hard, right. Going from one Institute setting to a new Institute setting, but the language of science is the same everywhere, essentially. But yeah, like, but moving kind of to a completely new country learning how the pre school system or the kindergarten system works, I’ll make new friends and all that. I think that that was the bigger bigger step and we never planned to stay that long. I think I should also say, so it was always intended to just do that for a few years.

Peter O’Toole (00:13:45):
That that was my next question. How long did you say you were going to be there?

Joerg Bewersdorf (00:13:49):
I think we were thinking of going for three to five years and that’s 15 years ago, 16 years ago.

Peter O’Toole (00:13:59):
Is that, what, what was the biggest challenge would you say when you moved over to the US from Germany?

Joerg Bewersdorf (00:14:08):
I’m not sure what’s the biggest challenge, but that was certainly something which I still remember very well. And that is the different way of communicating communication, which, which you’re not taught like anywhere in school, but that kind of different level of politeness, or like if let me see if I can find good example, if you are, if I would have asked in Germany somebody to collaborate with me and they, they were not really convinced, they would say, oh, I’m not convinced. Or no, I don’t have time for that. They won’t give you a kind of a straightforward answer and you will say, okay, he doesn’t have time for it. If you in the US what I was more like, oh, that’s an interesting idea. Let me think about it and, and said, oh, they like it. They find it interesting. They think about it. And then you wonder why they never get back to you. So that kind of thing, I had to learn how to read these social cues, which we’re in a bit different.

Peter O’Toole (00:15:12):
So it’d be interesting to know how it was perceived when someone approached you and said, can I collaborate and say, oh, I’m not so convinced by that.

Joerg Bewersdorf (00:15:20):
I think I was cautious enough to not step on too many people’s toes, but I’ve certainly explained that the German way off a more direct answer to American colleagues or other colleagues and told them to not take it personally when they get to kind of a more kind of straightforward, maybe not very diplomatic answer.

Peter O’Toole (00:15:42):
So. So you’ve lived in three countries. I think I know the answer to this, but I’m going to ask you, what’s your preference, Germany or UK?

Joerg Bewersdorf (00:15:59):
I’m always, it’s probably Germany because it’s in the end. We are, we are still you, you can’t really unwooden the tree, so we are still somehow connected with the culture there and yeah.

Peter O’Toole (00:16:12):
Germany or USA.

Joerg Bewersdorf (00:16:18):
It depends on, on on which level. So on, on the work level, I really like working in the US I like the environment I’m in. I like the dynamics. I like that. I like the challenge that you’re permanently facing. Like, you need to get your next grant all that while it’s, it’s really stressful. It, it also, it pushes you to, to really continue working and thinking and staying ahead and on top of the topic. So I, that I think is good for me. And I, I like that like privately or kind of culture, I think both countries have their strengths, but we would probably yeah. Connect a little bit. I mean, we have great friends. Yes. And really deep friendships. I really liked that. But like, former, from a social environment perspective, I think we feel a bit more comfortable in, in Germany still,

Peter O’Toole (00:17:17):
That was very well put because you could have either lost your German passport or your green card in America. One of the two,

Joerg Bewersdorf (00:17:24):
Oh, since half a year. I both passports

Peter O’Toole (00:17:27):
Very well answered on that question, coming to your research. I, I, I wouldn’t know where to start because you have fingers in many pies for actually pies, probably a bad use of terminology when, for postcards so associated in there, but you’ve had interaction through Palm Storm Paint sted Panx, PANx emperor. Microscopy on it. What’s your favorite technique?

Joerg Bewersdorf (00:17:59):
You’ll probably have I’m afraid to probably get a similar diplomatic answer there, but I actually believe that I think all these techniques out there, if their, their strength and their their challenges. So we aren’t at the moment, we are still working actively in the expansion microscopy research and push that frontier. We pushing on the Palm and Storm side and we also worked in a, still in the step microscopy side, and really tried to push this to the next level of what we think is, is kind of a missing feature or characteristic they, they need. And, and it’s really, none of these techniques is can, can we can fully replace any of the others? The I really love about the expansion microscopy that you can do it with any microscope. Now you can that it has this, this correlative aspect now with these, these pond stainings that be introduced there, which I think is super important and gets a lot of my colleagues and cell biology colleagues excited. Um but do we know how well that structures are preserved at the 10 nanometer scale or really lower? Let’s say you want to measure the diameter very precisely of a nuclear pore complex, or like that particular protein within the nuclear pore complex at the moment? I would probably say, ah, I’m not sure I trust it to the like exact measurements at that really small level. And I would probably go to a Palm, or Storm. I could scope to do that. Also, similarly, if I want to count how many proteins are in that nuclear pore complex. And then and the set microscope, I don’t really like when it comes to imaging deeper in, in the specimen. Are you, you, you you see what you get or you get what you see, whatever I’m saying is that you don’t need to worry about like image processing artifacts. You don’t need to worry too much about fixation artifacts are on the set side. So, so yeah, so I think they all already have their, their strengths. And I probably missed a few here and I, I missed a few weaknesses here, but the point is I think they all are important developments and continue to stay important developments.

Peter O’Toole (00:20:18):
And actually for, I think Palm Storms STED actually quite difficult concepts to describe briefly, but Panx is probably quite easy to explain to a lay person. Of course, the audience, some people may not know what expansion microscopy is. So could you describe it really basic concepts of how expansion expansion microscopy does?

Joerg Bewersdorf (00:20:44):
So, so, yeah, so expand from microscopy, which it’s a, it’s a technique where you have a fixed sample. It’s always very important to point out the samples, fix and dead. Okay. And now you embed it in a polymer matrix. And you you then let that pulling my matrix grow essentially by soaking in water. Like when you put a a gummy bear in a glass of water, it will swell. Or if you would have one of these little sponge animals that your kids put in the bath tub, as soon as they get wet, they will tend to grow. So that will happen too. Now this the cell, and if you have broken the bonds of the molecules in the, in the sample before that smelling process happens by, for example, in our case denaturing that the sample then, then the, the, the modules of the sample will grow with that gel and stay relatively in the same locations to each other, just that all the distances expand by the expansion factor of the gel and the magic now is that you can now image your now expanded cell with your normal microscope. And the microscope is still limited to the same resolution limit, but that’s because the sample is so much bigger. You can all see these small details there. And then later on, after you record the image, you just shrink it on the computer back to its original size, essentially adjust the scale bar for it. And now you have, let’s say, if you have a 20 fold expanded sample, you, you end up with an image with a 20 fold, improved resolution over what you normally could get

Peter O’Toole (00:22:32):
Without any special equipment.

Joerg Bewersdorf (00:22:35):
Yes. I mean, that’s the limit sad for me as an optical physicist, I’m developing these techniques. I’m essentially making myself up to media, but but it’s it’s it’s tool. Yeah, yeah, yeah. Just using a, a standard commercial confocal microscope at the moment to record the samples.

Peter O’Toole (00:22:55):
That’s interesting because yeah, that is very chemical. The whole process is chemistry driven really. You’re a physicist and you’re using this with biological samples. Are you a chemist physicist over biology?

Joerg Bewersdorf (00:23:12):
I’m definitely not a chemist. I have to say. And that is, I’m always getting very quickly to my limit there. And I rely on my really excellent grad student [inaudible] to really explain to me the chemistry that’s going on there. I’m not sure I would call myself a biologist yet, but I’ve picked up a lot over the last kind of 10 years or so. And at least I, I hope I’m not embarrassing myself anymore when I talk to my cell biology colleagues. Yeah. I would still say I’m a physicist, but actually maybe more so than a physicist. I I’m I’m an engineer. And the, the difference there, I think is the attitude. I’m I’m, I want to get stuff to work more so than understanding more and focusing on the goal rather than the, than the way towards the goal, maybe. And, and that, I think it’s, it’s kind of a certain mindset that helps.

Peter O’Toole (00:24:17):
That actually brings me to one of my quick fire questions. I was going to ask, are you a detail person or a big picture person?

Joerg Bewersdorf (00:24:26):
I’m a, I, I met detail person who forces himself to see the big picture. It’s a, it’s a constant push and pull. It’s, it’s a constant compromise. I need to remind myself all the time when I’m reviewing or revising a manuscript to not focus on fixing every comma here, but actually making sure that the message doesn’t get lost. Yeah. So and I, I think it’s important at the same time too. Yeah. I’ve been seeing the big picture is it’s the most important thing. I think so reminding yourself of that all the time.

Peter O’Toole (00:25:04):
So talking of big pictures, you’re in your office at the moment. So for those who are listening to the audio podcast Joerg is in his office with a big whiteboard behind him. And the whiteboard has a few biologic chemical structures on it.

Joerg Bewersdorf (00:25:19):
All, these are supposed to be cellular structures. Actually,

Peter O’Toole (00:25:23):
You didn’t say you were biology. So forgive me.

Joerg Bewersdorf (00:25:27):
I’m not an artist.

Peter O’Toole (00:25:30):
Artists never makes a good scientist and a good scientist. Never makes a good artist. That’s my excuse for being rubbish at drawing. How long have those pictures been on your whiteboard for

Joerg Bewersdorf (00:25:42):
Wait, let, let’s see. When did COVID start? Yeah. Yeah. It’s nearly two years there. Yeah. I am not sure they even can come off any more, you know, how this stuff kind of cross themselves itself into the board of the one.

Peter O’Toole (00:25:58):
I think there’s a tendency and a lot of people, the offices, I walk into all the academic offices. I walk into even my own whiteboard, which is don’t clean because I realized you’d go in and people’s whiteboards. The contents changes in little patches, but not the big stuff. And there’s some stuff that almost never vanishes. So do you have parts of your whiteboard that you really proud of you like that it’s part of you, it’s something you’ve got on there that you,

Joerg Bewersdorf (00:26:25):
No, I don’t think that that’s actually the argument why you see these patches in other people’s labs. I think it’s Gus, that’s stupid pen. Doesn’t come off the board anymore. After, while you’ll need to rub really hard to give up after like, finishing that area. I think it’s more like a, you reached a point pain point there then,

Peter O’Toole (00:26:46):
But you know, your optical lens, cleaning fluids, just, yeah,

Joerg Bewersdorf (00:26:50):
I know. But even they sometimes don’t work there, but I think it’s actually not so much. Or it’s a mix of the pen and the underlying materials. I’m actually a big fan of using glass boards now writing on windows, or we actually have in one labs, like the glass panels right on, I think that works much better. That’s my business. I would go into the,

Peter O’Toole (00:27:12):
That’s it cause you can’t clean your whiteboard. You start to write on your windows.

Joerg Bewersdorf (00:27:17):
Yeah, exactly. And why not? Right. You have a nice view. Why you actually explain something to someone

Peter O’Toole (00:27:26):
Back to work as in more serious work with only different technologies. How, how big is your team?

Joerg Bewersdorf (00:27:35):
About o of 15 or so? I always underestimated, so I think it’s probably around 15, 12 to 15 i’ll go one website. I think our website is current. We just have a new lab member starting today.

Peter O’Toole (00:27:52):
So how do you juggle managing? It’s not just managing the staff that the team, the postdocs and the PhDs it’s managing the projects that they’re also running with because they’ll have disparate projects, especially when you’ve got, you’re working on the Palm, the Storm, the STED of the PANx. How do you actually, it’s a lot of your time because it’s lots of different bits of support you’re giving. So you are, are you a hands-off kind of supervisor that’s there for advice and inspire or do you actually get in the lab or get into the gritty details with them? How’d you manage that time to make sure it’s effective?

Joerg Bewersdorf (00:28:29):
I’m I spend a little, I try to spend about half an hour to an hour with every lab member individually, every two weeks. It used to be every week. But I, I don’t find the time for that anymore. And we sit down and talk about the data and talk about like where the project goes. We we talk, we troubleshoot maybe or discuss where the project gets stuck. So that, that’s how I stay involved. I would say that’s, it’s not really hands-off, it is fairly hands on, on, even on detailed questions as, as we discussed already I’m detail oriented sometimes too much. Right. And then my lab member needs to remind me that that’s not why they came to talk to me that they can figure that part out, which color off a pen they should use or whatever. Um but that but the, but what I’m missing a little bit is the the hands-on experience in the lab. And and it’s we’re not, you know, I reached that stage. It doesn’t sound like you have reached that, but where I’m and I I’m envious for you, but when I go into lab and I approached the microscope a little bit too closely, my lab members start to stiffen up and hopefully it’s not touching anything kind of, and yeah. So I, I learned to to not to interfere anymore in the experiments.

Peter O’Toole (00:29:58):
It may be the opposite. It may be when they’ve run out of ideas of how to solve a problem, they then drag me into the microscope at that point, which I can troubleshoot, but the software has changed. Okay. So, okay. Can you do this, try this, try that. So now I’m directing more because some of the software is so alien, it’s hard to get to grips on some of them, the courses that we run enable me to get, keep up to date with the software. So I find that really useful, but yeah, otherwise, yeah, you do lose touch. It’s quite hard to keep in contact with the software changes, but the concepts, microscopes optics, they change, but they don’t change a great deal. If you’ve got the theory, you can work with it. So thinking of courses, so you, do you have the big course over in the US the not long finished doing so how many delegates on that?

Joerg Bewersdorf (00:30:58):
What do you mean by delegates Students? Or

Peter O’Toole (00:30:59):
Students, participant

Joerg Bewersdorf (00:31:02):
We had we had, the students are actually, that’s a good point. We were discussing what, how we call, call our course attendance. We felt students is not necessarily the best term for them. But yeah, so we have, we normally have 24 course participants. And this year we had 16 because of COVID restrictions. We wanted to make sure that for the, for the most important practical’s that every student had, their own microscope stand.

Peter O’Toole (00:31:31):
Yeah. I’m better distant very, similar here, we, we, we decreased by about a third for the same reason. We call them delegates. Attendees is a good answer participants again, students, and you’ve got academics attending, and we always worry that they might feel a bit odd being a student or being called a student. Again, they probably shouldn’t, they’re probably quite proud that they were students again, we’ve probably means they’re going out drinking every night. And probably too old to be doing that. So you obviously do enjoy teaching on the courses.

Joerg Bewersdorf (00:32:12):
Oh yeah. I think it’s, it’s one of the highlights of the year because it, it, it, it gets me. I mean, you know, what I’m talking about, right? This is, it’s a very intense atmosphere, working very closely with people getting, I get my hands on instruments. I normally don’t get them on meeting tons of people and, and, and participating in the, in the enthusiasm and the excitement that the delegates express when they learn these techniques. It’s very rewarding. I think it’s a ton of work about the, fortunately I do this together with Alison North and Alison, this is lifting a heavy load here on the course organization. I’m very happy for that. Yeah.

Peter O’Toole (00:32:58):
I, I could have predicted that part. Alison’s very good at organizing that’s for sure. As well as being an excellent microscopist and tutor, but yeah. You know, things won’t fail if Alison’s involved, thought it all through, she almost burnt it through and ahead in real time to find the faults. I’m not a detail person, big picture person, but Alison does a big picture and that detail, which, which makes sure yes, that’s a very good person to work with. Yeah,

Joerg Bewersdorf (00:33:32):
No, I’m, I’m super happy. I hope she’s not kicking me out.

Peter O’Toole (00:33:37):
Where was the course run? Sorry. Where was the course? One where

Joerg Bewersdorf (00:33:44):
The EMBL in Warsaw. So Marine biology laboratory yeah, it’s, it’s one of the two courses they usually run every year here in the US. And then there are a few other big courses, like cold spring Harbor and Mount desert island, Marine, biological laboratory. But I think ours was the only one which actually couldn’t happen this year. I think we had just got lucky in in that break between the last wave and the Delta wave coming. So, yeah, I think we in hindsight can count ourselves lucky.

Peter O’Toole (00:34:26):
And so can the participants,

Joerg Bewersdorf (00:34:28):
I think so. Yeah, they were very happy. It seemed.

Peter O’Toole (00:34:34):
Can you imagine the number of PhDs, postdocs, technical staff that I’ve now had 18 months of being in position being in a lab because you can’t work from home very well, so you have to be in the lab, but then not necessarily have the training or the, the RD training to really sync, to make it really work effectively. So I’m sure they’re very grateful to have got in there.

Joerg Bewersdorf (00:34:58):
Yeah. I think that the training is actually probably one of the aspects which suffered the most in the independent make it, at least that’s what I saw here at Yale. And that, you know, like a senior, lab member who already works kind of independently, they know what they have to do. They can work in an isolated manner, but a new lab member. I think we underestimate how much you pick up by just watching somebody else doing it, or being able to, to just call across the, the aisle or so. Do you know where the so-and-so is? Or can you show me briefly how I have, how I close the lid on this, whatever bottle you know, like these things or somebody looking over your shoulder telling you, what are you doing? You’re supposed to put a Piper tip on top of the pipette, you know, like stuff like that is something which what’s, what’s missing essentially for 18 months. And I think yeah,

Peter O’Toole (00:35:58):
I think that’d be very daunting for new starters into a new environment, but to take you back, what was your first microscope that you used? Can you not in school? So when she went to a more advanced microscope, what was your first big microscope that you used?

Joerg Bewersdorf (00:36:14):
I used that Leica T C S and T confocal microscope. So that was like the leaders like our confocal that that Stefan, Stefan Hell had just got in his lab. And I, as the new lab member was kind of witnessing, having it set up. And I, and I was the first who was allowed to tamper with it. So coupling a two photon laser into that microscope. Yeah. I think the got service people were pretty scared like, which I I think I was a little bit oblivious which was good, but like having like this kind of I wasn’t even a master’s student at that time, this intern essentially taking screws out of this, just new, like brand new confocal microscope to, to like add a mirror. So somewhere in the middle of that was yeah, scary

Peter O’Toole (00:37:16):
Thinking of the multi-photon side. This is a really powerful laser at this point. It’s beyond your normal confocal on lasers is a very powerful laser. Did you, at any point worried that you’d damaged the photo multiply tube by blinding get with too much power and how many biological samples did you blow up? Try to,

Joerg Bewersdorf (00:37:37):
Well, we definitely blew up our oh, I blew up my fair share of biological samples. I didn’t destroy photon multipliers to my knowledge. Ubut I haven’t compared and like a old and a new one side by side. So I dunno, I, I would not be surprised if,uyeah. Uone or two suffered a little bit,uin that project, but yeah, I like,ublowing up samples by focusing accidentally on pigmented areas in the sample. Yep. Have been there,

Peter O’Toole (00:38:13):
Have you ever tried to pop popcorn using the multi photon?

Joerg Bewersdorf (00:38:16):
No, but that’s a good idea. Yeah.

Peter O’Toole (00:38:21):
I keep thinking about it and I, we teach it on our course. I, I’ve got to find somebody to take it into work, a bit of oil immersion. A bit of butter and salt, see if we can pop a bit of popcorn with the lights as long as I don’t break the cover slip first.

Joerg Bewersdorf (00:38:41):
Yeah. Oh, we, we managed to burn two objective lenses in, in the, in the last year. Not even with a multi photon on these are just for the CW laser, and I’ve never seen anything like that. They have a, they have a little crater in the front now. It’s not somewhere in the inside. The font blends is not smooth anymore. It now has a little kind of, yeah. Crater in the center. It’s crazy. I didn’t

Peter O’Toole (00:39:08):
Factor that lens, but I won’t,

Joerg Bewersdorf (00:39:11):
I, I, I’m pretty sure it’s not the manufacturer’s fault like, not at any layers. So, so it’s the front. So I think what’s happened this week. The, the microscope which we built had it was, it was kind of automated platform and it had and it, it crashed essentially in a, in a long-term like 24 hour experiment and it kept moving the stage and the lake, and we haven’t, the software had a glitch that it didn’t turn off the laser. So the laser was constantly focusing or to the same spot of the cover slip. And it, some, I don’t know what happened then but some, somehow it must’ve heated up so much that I still don’t understand how the front lens really. I mean, this glass, I mean always the, oh, you’re supposed to like, yeah, yeah. Crater on the glass surface.

Peter O’Toole (00:40:06):
You should probably stop there because you’ve had the stage stop working the laser fail and for the laser blanking has failed. If you’re set on health and safety are listening to this, you’ll be in big trouble tomorrow.

Joerg Bewersdorf (00:40:20):
Oops. Yeah.

Peter O’Toole (00:40:25):
So you get these stressful times when you realize that this has happened. What do you do outside of work to relax?

Joerg Bewersdorf (00:40:38):
Spend time with family. I think like I like cooking yeah, preparing a kind of good dishes.

Peter O’Toole (00:40:46):
Like what’s your signature dish?

Joerg Bewersdorf (00:40:51):
It’s probably on the, yeah, on the dessert side or so that’s probably my, my major passion. I think it’s kind of a creme brulee or something like that. Yeah.

Peter O’Toole (00:41:03):
A creme brulee that is exciting as it gets.

Joerg Bewersdorf (00:41:08):
I think there’s a certain art to it to get adjust right.

Peter O’Toole (00:41:13):
Oh. So do you go for a creme brulee that’s super thin? Or do you go for deep with the top?

Joerg Bewersdorf (00:41:20):
Yeah, I think it’s more like the, yeah, like that,

Peter O’Toole (00:41:28):
The very thing once with a very delicate top. Yeah. Have you ever done a deconstructing one where you do that so that the glacial sugared and put a shard of it into your creme brulee?

Joerg Bewersdorf (00:41:41):
No. No, I guess I’m a traditionalist there. Just like my wife doesn’t like me handling the blowtorch in the house. So that’s the, that’s the biggest problem

Peter O’Toole (00:41:53):
You’re an engineer? Oh, no. I’ve heard what you did to lenses. Yeah. Maybe.

Joerg Bewersdorf (00:41:59):
Well, maybe we can use the laser for that.

Peter O’Toole (00:42:02):
You can make a whole pattern really well with it.

Joerg Bewersdorf (00:42:05):
Yeah. Like a 3d printer. Right. And right into the sugar cold.

Peter O’Toole (00:42:10):
So if you had dessert, would you be an ice cream man or a chocolate man?

Joerg Bewersdorf (00:42:19):
So while there, okay. Now you got me started. There’s has a whole, a whole kind of classification of desserts, which I find is very important. And ice cream is a proper dessert as is creme brulee. But chocolate itself is not a dessert. That’s a sweet which eating after a meal and cake is also different. Cake is not a dessert at all. Cake is cake. So this is an argument I always have to have with my American friends.

Peter O’Toole (00:42:51):
So I’ll argue back. What about a nice chocolate torte With a crisp pastry bottom, dark chocolate, 70% dark chocolate, rich other torte.

Joerg Bewersdorf (00:43:07):
Yeah. But, but, but yeah, I won’t eat that. You know, that’s something you eat in the afternoon with a tea or coffee. That’s not a dessert. The dessert is something to eat after a meal by serving that cake in the evening, after your main meal, then you actually cheat yourself of that ofter a meal because you already have, so you should have both separated. If you put them in two different categories, then you said I had one dessert today. And one piece of cake today, rather than two desserts.

Peter O’Toole (00:43:41):
You see, you missed the point. There’s no reason you can’t have it at both times a day. In fact, we taught courses, we always take the delegates out for meals. And the one thing I insist on being on the dessert, we, we do kind of go to restaurants and we kind of dictate what should be on the menu because we kind of know what the delegates will go for. Tried and tested, and we’ve honed into what everyone ticks many boxes. Chocolate torte has to be on the end menu. And the number of times I’ve ended up with two or three chocolate tortes in front of me. Wow. You have to apply to sleeping that night. It’s quite difficult. Especially having proper dark chocolates.

Joerg Bewersdorf (00:44:22):
Yeah. That, I mean, that’s only an experience I had with if you had drinking tickets to people, everyone gets two beer tickets and it actually turns out like, you know, I conference and all that it’s l, if you keep your eyes open, who is drinking soda and then ask, Hey, you, you have a spare drinking ticket. You can you can get your fair share, which also makes it difficult to sleep later

Peter O’Toole (00:44:47):
You can do quite well out of it that that’s official. So I think in a conferences out of everything that’s happened over COVID in the past and everything else, virtual or physical conferences, virtual physical meetings, what’s your preference,

Peter O’Toole (00:45:05):
Physical. I virtual doesn’t really work for me a yet very well. I dunno. I, I missed the meeting, friends and colleagues that for me often at conference, it’s not so much the actual talks, which excite me. It’s the, it’s the whole room discussions I have running into somebody or, or, or looking at a poster I didn’t expect. And like, I know it’s, it’s this chance encounters, which, which I think is for me often what I bring back from a conference where I learned something unexpected. It’s not usually not the big plenary talks and it’s usually not even the regular talks. It’s this? Yeah. This side events.

Peter O’Toole (00:45:48):
Yeah. That’s fair enough. And do you enjoy traveling? Cause obviously you get invited to lots of talks all across the world. Do you, what’s your favorite type of conference? Long haul flights. Short haul flights back into Europe, elsewhere .

Joerg Bewersdorf (00:46:02):
I don’t like flying so much anymore. I like sitting on a plane for a long time. It’s not fun. And the times zones or like time zone change also bothers me more and more. I have to say. So I’m, I dunno, I haven’t traveled that much over the last 18 months. So at the moment it sounds better. It probably is. But yeah, that, that’s the only disadvantage, the physical conferences that travel. Right. So being able to adjust call in is a huge advantage.

Peter O’Toole (00:46:35):
So we, the only techniques that you developed, you must be writing lots of grants and the grants. Some obviously diverse too. You’re never plowing the same field. So you, you, you have multiple runners in a race, if you like, which must help your grants, success rate. What would you say your, ah, you also pattern some of your work. How did you balance patterns over publishing the work or even how do you, you know, there’s gonna be a pattern in this. You’ve got to write a grant application, but you don’t want to give too much away from the patent side.

Joerg Bewersdorf (00:47:13):
That’s not how I see. I don’t see there as a conflict from my perspective. I think you just need to make sure you file the patent early enough. And fortunately at least in the US we can file these, these provisional patent applications. And they, they can turn be turned around if, if necessary. I mean, you’re not making friends in the, in the tech transfer office with that, but it’s, it, it can be turned around in all 48 hours. So, so what we just need to keep in mind for my perspective that before you will, let’s say, put your paper on bio archive that you just a day or while ideally a week or two weeks before you actually make sure you find that provisional patent obligation. And then you can follow up in the next 12 months to do a file, the proper application. And then I’m yeah, we, we are not holding back that information from the paper for strategic purposes. I think that would be dishonest, and it would also not be in the interest of the funding agencies who will fund the research. So, and not in the interest of university. So I think these, these things actually go along quite well. And in a way, the paper is even advertisement for that. The patent right them in, nobody would know about the patent or I mean, ask you about licensing it, if you wouldn’t openly advertise for it through

Peter O’Toole (00:48:45):
How helpful are the tech office in putting the pattern together, you’re a scientist. You’re not someone who writes patterns. So how much do you get a lot of support at Yale for that?

Joerg Bewersdorf (00:48:55):
We, we the way he does this is they put us in touch then with outside faculty outside patent attorneys. And they, they help us raise these patents and yeah, there’s always a, you need to bridge kind of, they, they don’t have the, the, the knowledge on the field and that’s always kind of difficult to explain to them then, and you, you certainly it’s going back and forth, but they can certainly help you get this into the, the, the, the right claim language, which is, yeah, it’s painful. I mean, it’s not fun to to to do this. I mean, I, I actually thinking back to how we started this discussion, right? You asked me what I wanted to become. And I said, like an astronaut or like a physicist. I also knew what I did not want to become. And that was to be anyone who has to do a lot of writing. I hated writing when I was in school. So like writing these essays in my German classes was torture for me. And while look what we are doing now the whole day, yeah. Writing, grants writing patents writing papers.

Peter O’Toole (00:50:01):
Do you find that there’s certain days or certain times a day that you bite better than others? And at times when you find it really hard to actually put pen to paper or fingers to keyboards

Joerg Bewersdorf (00:50:18):
That I would say what’s hard. The problem is that the time is hard for me, if the deadline is not pressing. So, so I, I I tend to get this stuff done last minute which is not something I recommend. But I guess it just to reflect so much, I don’t enjoy, the writing aspect for, for grants, et cetera. So,

Peter O’Toole (00:50:42):
Yeah. Thinking of the challenging you’re biting, I’m not liking biting. What have you actually found the most challenging aspect so far in your career? That’s what most difficult time maybe, or the most challenging aspects?

Joerg Bewersdorf (00:51:06):
I think it’s, it’s the, it’s actually, what’s the right term, like dealing with conflicts in the lab that I find one of the hardest things, right. You, you see both people’s perspective and you still need to kind of mediate between them. And yeah, I think that, that is that I find is yeah. Kind of a hard

Peter O’Toole (00:51:33):
To give someone a formal notice.

Joerg Bewersdorf (00:51:37):
I fortunately never had to do that, but yeah, I would definitely a that’s also something I would, yeah. I would be very hard for me,

Peter O’Toole (00:51:46):
That’s it? This is very personal and, and generally I think both our staff have very good staff and likable, but maybe not always best at their jobs, which, which can become a problem. Yeah. People in positions two sorts of different things. Okay. So go from the bleak that we had there. What about the base thinking all your career has been the time that actually, if you could just live that moment, time and time again in your life, what period of time would that be?

Joerg Bewersdorf (00:52:19):
I mean, it’s certainly, I think it’s, there are many of these short events, right? It’s this, the, the, the, the minute you get the, or the hour or the day you get the notice of a grant, you got the, or your paper got published, or like you got, get really positive feedback of something finally working like the experiment. The first time we saw like the, the, the pontic sponsor microscopy images or something like that, that is that’s, these, these moments are just yeah, just magic. Right. Then that, that, that, that’s what keeps you going,

Peter O’Toole (00:52:57):
Be honest, which is most exciting, seeing that first result on the microscope or having it accepted as a publication.

Joerg Bewersdorf (00:53:09):
I think it’s, it’s the, seeing it the first time on the microscope this realizing that yeah, yeah, yeah. Yeah.

Peter O’Toole (00:53:18):
Because that’s the first time it’s really real and you’ll get it published.

Joerg Bewersdorf (00:53:21):
Yeah. The realization that you have something really cool here, or that, that this is the, like, I mean, from a subjective perspective, that’s the best image ever taken off this particular kind of sample it’s like that, you know, that, that,

Peter O’Toole (00:53:38):
And you, you mentioned there maybe seen that big Panx image thinking a big things. What’s the next big thing in microscopy? What do we need to solve? What, what if there was no limitations? What would you enable?

Joerg Bewersdorf (00:53:58):
I think one of the, I don’t have an answer to that, but the, but are about the, I think one thing, which I don’t really find, one of the biggest challenges is the, is this move towards quantitative biology, quantitative imaging, right? So this is obviously important. I think we all know that, but to actually make this work, that it’s truly a reliable, reproducible, robust and, and, and quantitative that you can really, you know, yeah. That, you know, what you have there, and you don’t need to worry there. Maybe still another artifact I missed in here. Any, any of these things, this, this I find is this is the big remaining frontier in both remain probably frontier forever. But this is something where I’m sometimes yeah, like this, the machine learning field for example, is something which worries me a little bit there because I’m not really an expert there. I think it has great potential. I think it’s super important, but at the same time, I think it’s also quite dangerous. You can, you can create a lot of things, which might not be real. And you’re not realizing, or if you don’t know what you’re doing there using these algorithms, you can,

Peter O’Toole (00:55:21):
Yeah. I would hope the scrutiny will always be there and then put into practice to check. And back check, I understand

Joerg Bewersdorf (00:55:28):

Peter O’Toole (00:55:30):
Two quick fire questions are you a Mac or PC person.

Joerg Bewersdorf (00:55:40):

Peter O’Toole (00:55:40):
Early bird or night owl?

Joerg Bewersdorf (00:55:42):
Night Owl

Peter O’Toole (00:55:44):
What’s your favorite food, besides it, assuming it’s not chocolate chocolate, chocolate earlier, and now you’re saying chocolate, your favourite food,

Joerg Bewersdorf (00:55:53):
Chocolate cake. You know, why, why do you need that crust underneath? If it would just be the, just the feeling

Peter O’Toole (00:56:00):
Milk or, dark chocolate

Joerg Bewersdorf (00:56:04):
On the dark side. Yeah. That Dockside

Peter O’Toole (00:56:08):
Tea or coffee,

Joerg Bewersdorf (00:56:12):

Peter O’Toole (00:56:12):
Wine, or beer,

Joerg Bewersdorf (00:56:13):

Peter O’Toole (00:56:16):
Ale or lager,

Joerg Bewersdorf (00:56:19):
Both just not at the same time

Peter O’Toole (00:56:25):
TV or book

Joerg Bewersdorf (00:56:29):
TV nowadays.

Peter O’Toole (00:56:31):
What’s your favorite. If you actually watch any trashy TV,

Joerg Bewersdorf (00:56:37):
I’m actually not really watching TV. I’m watching, I’m not watching like Netflix or Amazon prime or so, so I don’t really know what’s currently on TV because I don’t, don’t like the waste of the advertisement breaks, but I watch any trashy TV or trashy shows.

Peter O’Toole (00:56:59):

Joerg Bewersdorf (00:57:00):
I don’t know what I’m not even sure. I know what that, what you would, what would qualify as trashy?

Peter O’Toole (00:57:06):
Ah, I know that would be on mine. I’m not going to reveal my vices, that’d be a, I can’t do that. That’d be worse. I think if I was to admit my own my own vices, I did,

Joerg Bewersdorf (00:57:21):
I, I wa I watch a lot of science fiction or not a lot, but if I have the chance I watched kind of science fiction series from the star Trek universe, or I watch,

Peter O’Toole (00:57:32):
So that ruins a Star Trek or star wars question. So I presume it was tracking

Joerg Bewersdorf (00:57:36):
Star Trek

Peter O’Toole (00:57:38):
What’s your fate, not, not a star Trek, but of all time. Any genre, what’s your favorite movie?

Joerg Bewersdorf (00:57:48):
I don’t know, but I can definitely tell you the movie I’ve watched the most was Pulp fiction. And when I wasn’t, when I was an exchange student in Glasgow, I think my friends and I, we went six times to the cinema to watch it

Peter O’Toole (00:58:02):
Six times,

Joerg Bewersdorf (00:58:04):
Six times

Peter O’Toole (00:58:05):
With the same people

Joerg Bewersdorf (00:58:08):
Essentially. Yeah. Yeah.

Peter O’Toole (00:58:10):
Well, I did Batman three times, I think, but I can’t believe it’s six times.

Joerg Bewersdorf (00:58:16):
Yeah. Over like a, I don’t know, two months or whatever. How long it played. Yeah.

Peter O’Toole (00:58:20):
So how are your dance moves

Joerg Bewersdorf (00:58:22):
Or terrible

Peter O’Toole (00:58:24):
Pulp Fiction?

Joerg Bewersdorf (00:58:26):
I’m I’m, I’m not a dancer not at all.

Speaker 3 (00:58:29):
You can’t do the John Travolta moves?

Joerg Bewersdorf (00:58:32):
I would, I wouldn’t even dare to try. I would be far too embarrassed to even try it

Peter O’Toole (00:58:42):
That if you just put this a lovely concept that you’re going to get my beer vouchers at the next conference, and I’m going to get the Pulp Fiction at that famous scene. It felt picture just to see your John Travolta movie,

Joerg Bewersdorf (00:58:56):
It would require a lot of beers to get.

Peter O’Toole (00:59:00):
I just love that concept of it. If you could live anywhere in the world, where would you move to?

Joerg Bewersdorf (00:59:08):
I don’t know. I’m I think I’m pretty open, but I love, I, I I’m, I have this attraction to islands. I need to talk to some cycle analyst at some point where that comes, but this is really islands fascinate me whether it’s a Greek island or whether it’s the Azores, whether it’s not line island here on the coast of new England, doesn’t matter. I think islands are just fantastic.

Peter O’Toole (00:59:34):
Okay. That’s just perfectly good idea. And if you could meet anyone in the world, who would you meet?

Joerg Bewersdorf (00:59:45):
I, I don’t think in these categories, I I’m not somebody who I don’t know. I’m, I’m, I’m not I don’t believe so much in, in the genius of individuals. So I don’t really put individuals on very high pedestals. So for me, it’s, it’s more it’s I, my focus is much more on the team or like on the, on the group having achieved something. So so I this is I’m, I’m not, I, I’m not idolizing very easily.

Peter O’Toole (01:00:19):
So coming, coming back to work because I, I actually very close to the hour, mark. That’s way too fast. Actually. I have to ask just before we go back to work, you say you make desserts. I would say, this is not a dessert. This is not a cake. I don’t know. I think this is something you would do at Christmas, but surely it should be Okay. So it is gingerbread, but that’s a microscope, not a house.

Joerg Bewersdorf (01:00:50):
It’s a gingerbread microscope. Yeah. And the best part it was operational. So actually a part of sugar here,

Peter O’Toole (01:01:02):
You made the lenses out to

Joerg Bewersdorf (01:01:03):
Sugar. Yes. You can do that. Yeah. So we may have forgotten what the name is, but we essentially got this confectioner’s sugar that you now you can look up recipes, how you make a hard candy, like the hard, the rock candy kind of thing. And and, and it’s clear, right? If you don’t put any dye in it, and it’s very clear, and it has a refractive index, which is different from air, so you can form it. So, so then we, we we essentially put that into a, a mold, which was roughly a circle. And then that, then they popped it out when it was hard and, and you can Polish it very easily because you just need to make it wet. So you just Polish it between your hands and gets this right. Nice, smooth surface. I think I actually showed you an image or your,

Peter O’Toole (01:01:56):
I was just saying, I did not know what this image was, but now I do. So is this an image? So that was for those listening, there was a gingerbread house equipment, a gingerbread microscope, a

Joerg Bewersdorf (01:02:09):
That’s an image taken with the Microscope,

Peter O’Toole (01:02:10):
Is this ruler,

Joerg Bewersdorf (01:02:12):
That’s a ruler underneath. Yeah. So we finished that. Ruler went through that microscope lens, essentially. There there’s another image of the lens.

Peter O’Toole (01:02:23):
Before we go to the image of the lens, you’re a microscopist, you publish, you show your images. I would like to point out you are showing me your ruler and no evidence of magnification whatsoever. There’s no scale bar on this, or no.

Joerg Bewersdorf (01:02:37):
Yeah, actually, sorry, I didn’t want to like swamp you with images. I have an image of the ruler. You want to see the image of the ruler non magnified? I have that here.

Peter O’Toole (01:02:50):
Okay. Go for it. Just put it in your background. If you can put it in your Zoom back ground I would like to point out to the non listener that this image has a few operations. Okay.

Joerg Bewersdorf (01:03:02):
Just the few or just a few. I think it’s nearly perfect.

Peter O’Toole (01:03:05):
And the lens, just what, just while you’re waiting, this is, I presume the lens that you made. Is it?

Joerg Bewersdorf (01:03:11):
Yeah, that’s the lens.

Peter O’Toole (01:03:13):
Good grief. And then just won’t Joerg is looking for that. George. Also, we sent this picture. We suggest he actually shrunk himself under blew up the Nutella jar. So he’s obviously used expansion microscopy and blew up in the teller jar. Yeah. And hugging it.

Joerg Bewersdorf (01:03:30):
Exactly. Yeah. That that’s. Yeah. So that’s the real motivation behind expansion microscopy and have more desserts.

Peter O’Toole (01:03:40):
It’s fun. He blow a cell. So big or bits tissue that you can walk into the tissue.

Joerg Bewersdorf (01:03:47):
That is, that is still all a dream, like for a kind of a educational project to expand the sample so much that you actually have the cell like that big or so. And you can actually just put in a museum rather than a, yeah, we actually go there. We got samples now of my students showed me samples that on the co on the slide, sorry, on the, on the Petri dish, they expanded so much, you can just image them with your cell phone. It’s amazing. You can see them just with your cell phone camera,

Peter O’Toole (01:04:18):
And enough fluorescents there to see that

Joerg Bewersdorf (01:04:19):
No not fluorescents they have some kind of scattering contrast in that project case. And just, it’s amazing. Sorry. there,

Peter O’Toole (01:04:34):
Because the next thing you talked about your, your love of making desserts,

Joerg Bewersdorf (01:04:39):
See, here’s the water and it was a metric ruler. So this is a centimeter, a standard bar, I guess. Yeah. So yeah, the magnification is not that impressive with the microscope. It is the number five.

Peter O’Toole (01:04:55):
But it’s in a, it’s a sugar coated lens. Come on.

Joerg Bewersdorf (01:05:00):
That’s it solid sugar lens. Yes, you’re right. Yeah. And it was our first attempt. So that was not, we need to repeat that experience. The problem is after a few days, the microscope collapsed. So I think the humidity was too high.

Peter O’Toole (01:05:14):
Joerge w we are, I have to say thank you for joining me today. It’s been entertaining inspiring and as inspiring as your work actually I can’t wait to see the next developments that you come out with. I can’t wait to see your next publications and you presenting them because that’s what really sells it and inspires as well. So, Joerg.

New Speaker (01:05:36):
, Thank you so much for joining me today. Thank you

Joerg Bewersdorf (01:05:39):
Very much for reminding me that it was a pleasure to chat to you today

Peter O’Toole (01:05:42):
With you. That’s a pleasure and everyone who’s listened or watched at do, do have a quick flick at the YouTube. If you don’t have time, just go to those last few minutes to see the gingerbread microscope, which is surreal. But thanks for listening. Don’t forget to listen to the others from Alison North, who was one of the early ones that we podcast with that. And of course, don’t forget to subscribe to whichever channel you’re listening to. So, Joerg again, thank you very much.

Joerg Bewersdorf (01:06:09):
Thank you.

Intro/Outro (01:06:11):
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


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