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Judith Klumperman (UMC Utrecht)

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About this episode

#27 — Judith Klumperman of the University Medical Center (UMC) Utrecht is one of the leaders in the field of electron microscopy and her work has contributed hugely to our understanding of diseases of the endo-lysosomal system. In this episode of The Microscopists , Judith chats to Peter O’Toole about the importance of scientific collaboration, why a sustainable financing system is essential to ensure the future of microscopy, and how her husband’s passion for birdwatching has led her all over the world. As well as learning more about some of the challenges Judith has faced in her career, we also discover what Judith’s favorite food is and how she relaxes after a hard day in the lab.

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

Peter O’Toole (00:00:00):
Hi, I’m Peter O’Toole from The University of York and today on The Microscopists I’m joined by Judith Klumperman from the University Medical Center at Utrecht. Hello, Judith.

Judith Klumperman (00:02:14):
Hi Pete, it’s nice to meet you.

Peter O’Toole (00:02:17):
Yeah, likewise. I’ve got a few questions actually start with, are you a cell biologist and Electron microscopist. I Light microscopist. What would you count yourself? As

Judith Klumperman (00:02:30):
I would count myself as a Cell biologist and I use mostly electron microscopy to, yeah, to look at the questions I’m interested in, but I, I see myself as a Cell Biologist not. Yeah.

Peter O’Toole (00:02:45):
So that was your, I presume your undergraduate then your, your first degree was in Cell biology. Yeah.

Judith Klumperman (00:02:51):
Yeah. I graduated in biology in fact. Yeah.

Peter O’Toole (00:02:55):
And so yeah, Cell biology isn’t electron microscopy yeah, that, that’s something that is less time. It’s a technique that is used, but obviously you really forge your career in the, in the coupling of the scientific question and the technology and you are one of the leaders in the electron microscopy field. So, where did you first encounter your first electron microscope?

Judith Klumperman (00:03:21):
The first electron microscope? That was in my study in in biology. So I studied at Leiden University. And so actually I was, I was getting interested in electron microscopy at, at high school during biology classes and I saw pictures in books and that’s yeah, that, that hit something with me. I, I got fascinated by that and I thought, okay, this is something I really would like to do. And so I, I studied biology and then after the bachelor you could do the master. And the first master I did was electron microscopy because I was really drawn to that. And actually the, my master thesis was about the accumulation of lipofuscin that is the pigmentation that you accumulate when you get older in the liver and the science of explanation lysosomes. So this is, this is where it started and yeah, it has also always been yeah. My drive, I always enjoyed to use the microscope to look at the cells.

Peter O’Toole (00:04:44):
Now I’m just thinking about how someone got inspired from looking at black and white pictures, just because of course they weren’t or very rarely full coloured.

Judith Klumperman (00:04:54):
Yeah, yeah. Yeah. Well, you know, I it’s it’s for me I don’t see black and white pictures. I see so much in them, but I, I do realize that for other people, they may be a little bit boring. So we start now by hand sometimes also to add some colors. I could say that developing CLEM you know, one of the motivations could have been to add some pictures, but that was not a real art to add some colors to the EM pictures, but that of course was not a real motivation. But we are doing our best these days, Peter, to, to make the, the gray EM pictures also more appealing to the people that like the colors. Yeah.

Peter O’Toole (00:05:44):
Oh, you’re just, just going back, we’ll come onto CLEM in a moment to involve what was your first electron microscope that you use then?

Judith Klumperman (00:05:52):
The first one? Yeah. Oh, that was during my PhD. And that was Phillips 2 0 1. Was it Phillips? Yeah, that was before it was FAY. Yeah. So it was a very small one and I was a bit frustrated by that because I was in a lab and they had three electron microscopes and, and there was one much better than I was allowed to use. So if I wanted to go into a higher magnification, it just was not sharp enough. And there was an indexer microscope just next door who was much better with the only one allowed to use that was the professor. And I was just starting PhD and I was not allowed to use the microscope, I really wanted to, I think that was a 300 Phillips 300. So yeah, that was yeah, one of the things that you know, that I had to put up a little fight and so in the end I could do my PhD on the Phillips 300.

Peter O’Toole (00:07:06):
So you did get on it, which was, which was good. So from your, so that’s your Master’s PhD, what did you then go on to do

Judith Klumperman (00:07:15):
To the from the Master’s to the PhD,

Peter O’Toole (00:07:20):
From the Master, once you finished your PhD what did you then go on to do

Judith Klumperman (00:07:25):
After the PhD? Yeah. Yeah. I became a post-doc in the lab of Hans Geuze and who yeah. Was running a famous DM lab in the Netherlands at that time doing the immuno electron microscopy and spoiler alert. And I’m, I’m also married to him now. So this is, you know, was certain years ago or more than certain years ago, I think it’s 35 years ago. Yeah. I came to work in the lab and yeah, that’s him and and a little [Inaudible]. And yeah, so again, I, my, my choice was electron microscopy and for the second post-doc I, I went to Amsterdam but this was quite. you had a lot of people said to me, there’s no future in electron microscopy. and what you should do is molecular biology. So I tried that, I tried also to, during my studies to do some, you know, real molecular biology, but I, I really did not get the excited there. I can of course see all the importance, but me doing those experiments. It did not work really well. and I, I was much less inspired by it. So I yeah, I choose really to do what I like, and that was electron microscopy. So it’s, it’s a bit boring maybe because if I was captured by that, and I’m still by that this day. And of course it changed a lot because when I started, you know, you could publish a paper, always nice pictures and that’s it. But now of course it has changed so much that you can combine this light microscopy that you can combine it with interfering with cells, with this knocking out genes. So and so over overexpression of proteins there’s, there’s so many additions now. And so that, that still makes it so rewarding to do. And so many possibilities.

Peter O’Toole (00:09:52):
It was interesting at the start that you said that you know, back in, I guess this was the nineties, when you were doing your postdoc, that you, you were told that yeah, electron microscopy, there’s no career here. There’s no future because light microscopy was exploding onto the scene and lots of people were moving into that, but you persevered.

Judith Klumperman (00:10:13):
Also molecular Biology, yeah. Library of course could be, was even later,

Peter O’Toole (00:10:19):
But you stuck with it. And I think it’s fair to say that electron microscopy is now on, back on the up. Well, actually hugely on the up, and he’s touching every branch of biology again, from structural biology through to your cell biology with the CLEM, the 3d and the combinations. So how has that, how have you surfed that wave of the technologies, because suddenly you had two or three electron microscopes in your early days that you had access to, suddenly electron microscope technology is moving forward and they are not cheap to replace. So how stressful is it trying to keep at the forefront of electron microscopy?

Judith Klumperman (00:11:03):
Yeah, so of course imaging has changed a lot with the digital imaging and, and the, the increase in resolution is enormous. And so electron microscopy, there are different types of electron microscopy now. And with each time you can address a specific question. And I, of course, I, I, I follow that and I, I see the people like to cry all year, you know, go all into the molecular structures. I see the, the great developments and possibilities there, but I, I see that as next to the work that I am doing. So I it’s, it’s not competing or so it’s, it’s, it’s all different techniques. And like also the, the volume EM and it’s all the different techniques that you can put next to each other and they all fill in a piece of the puzzle, and it is the, it is a challenge to to together, you know, to get people together and fill in these pieces of the puzzle. And yeah, I have always, I mean, for the developments you, you have to, to, to be close to what really inspires you. And for me, that has always been the, the, the question on, on the cellular level than the membrane trafficking, the organelle biogenesis. And so I was within all the developments and, and, and, and the connections is to other labs. I kept on focusing on that and, and try to, to be at the forefront of that part of the electron microscopy.

Peter O’Toole (00:12:52):
So I, I could be wrong here. So so slap me down, if I am wrong, but you say you’re a cell biologist, but I remember as a PhD student being told when I was a post-doc that you have to follow and study a biological question to have a successful academic career. Here you are. You’re a professor very, very successful academic career. And I would argue that actually, you haven’t dived deep into addressing one biological question, but you’ve really broad and applying electron microscopy to solve lots of cell biology questions. Firstly, is that correct? Secondly, how I think that’s considering the timing of this. You must be one of the very few people to forge an academic career and not have a single biological question that you’re addressing, but really very broad set of questions.

Judith Klumperman (00:13:48):
I think this is also because of the nature of the work that I’m doing. I mean, I’m, I’m looking at the cell by, by doing electron microscopy you, by definition are looking at the cell, so you can change something in the ER, but that will also change the the plasma membrane or the secretory pathway. You can change something in the lysosome, but it will also affect the mitochondria. And I think that that has always been yeah, I always have liked that to, to look at the question in the context of the cell because you cannot see it apart from if I, if I’m looking at the lysosome you cannot look at a lysosome alone. There’s also the context sites. There is, there’s always, there, there are so many connections and this is what you see by electro-microscope. I mean, I’m looking at the lysosomes for example, but I see the ER around it. And so you can’t close your eyes for, for the for the, for the, for the context. So that is one thing. And the other thing is that yeah, because the lab is, is good in a, in a technology that, that not so many people in the world are capable of doing. I get a lot of requests for collaborations and that is also just great fun. It’s also great fun to be inspired by the questions that others have and to work together on, on trying to solve the question. And and, and thirdly it is, I also find it yeah, quite important to share what we can do so that, that a lot of people can benefit from it. So it is not only that, that we do that fine collaborations, but two you’re also giving the choruses. And we really try to, to got to share our technologies with other people.

Peter O’Toole (00:16:01):
I, I was going to go one direction. I’m going to go in a different direction. Now, you just know that I’m going to be, we’ll come back to that. Cause I I’ve got a question I’d like to go back to the picture. We showed yourself and your, your husband here. So this is a picture of yourself looking very wrapped up on camera with lots of penguins round. You said, firstly, where is this?

Judith Klumperman (00:16:26):
This is at the Falklands, the Falkland islands. So at the south of Argentina

Peter O’Toole (00:16:31):
And what type of penguins are they?

Judith Klumperman (00:16:33):
These are the Rock Hopper.

Peter O’Toole (00:16:35):
Okay. you sent quite a lot of these or are they all Rock Hoppers then?

Judith Klumperman (00:16:41):
This one? Yeah. Oh, so you can see by the funny things they have yeah.

Peter O’Toole (00:16:47):
Eyebrow type things. And there was one that really caught my attention. Is it still on the Falklands as well?

Judith Klumperman (00:16:54):
Yeah. It’s starting bride albatross. Yeah. Yeah. And we were sitting next to the, the nest and the, and the young ones and yeah, I, it was, it was an amazing experience. Yeah.

Peter O’Toole (00:17:08):
So is this a general interest in nature or is it birds in particular or, yeah.

Judith Klumperman (00:17:16):
Yeah. So my, my husband is he’s a birder, so very energetic his whole life. So and so I call myself the Birder’s Wife uh because I, I have seen many, many birds in my life. But you know it is Hans really who, who, who drives that interest. But meanwhile we have been traveling to so many beautiful places in the world. And yeah, that has been a really great pleasure for for many years. Yeah.

Peter O’Toole (00:17:55):
So how keen, but is he a bird watcher you’re familiar with the term twitcher yeah,

Judith Klumperman (00:18:01):
He, he was a twitcher. Now’s a bit less but for many years when we arrived some where I couldn’t talk to him because, you know, I have to listen to birds and they’re there. And he’s a bit more relaxed now, but I think he has more than 7,000 or so. I don’t know, 6,000 a lot and I’m not interested at all in, in twitching. I just like to be there, to sit there, to see it happen. I can see the birds and, you know, I’m, I’m also a lazy birder because I said, what is that? And then he says that step, but that is very nice because of course you go there and then, you know, there is this, you know, this, this very special bird and it is very difficult to see it like the, the dancing mannequins or, you know, it’s, it’s are the, the, the Koch of the rock. And if your rule and you go there and it really adds something to the nature experience

Peter O’Toole (00:19:01):
I’m just looking through the extra pictures that you sent, and obviously this, this is not On a birding trip, but where is this

Judith Klumperman (00:19:08):
This is Thailand. Yeah. Yeah. It was great fun. Yeah. Yeah. So this was was a, an elephant resort in the North of Thailand. And so the, the elephants were really treated very well there and we had to wride on them and then we had the bus together and it was just, it was just great fun. Yeah.

Peter O’Toole (00:19:36):
Right. So, so well traveled. So I, I take it I’ve got one more picture, which just kind of, yeah. Obviously this is the Great Wall of China, even. I know where this is.

Judith Klumperman (00:19:47):
Yeah. I put that in because I just thought, okay. When I’m only sending in penguins and so you may think I’m never doing something, you know, never gone to a city. And so this was actually one of the scientific trips, but in blue is it’s, it’s my, my friends. And with her, I always do the, the city trips. So with Hans I always going to the nature destination. And then with, my friends, I go to, you know, cities, we do that to many years. We always have the city trips here in the, in Shanghai. Sometimes she, you know, on these big trips, we, she, she can join me in, but we also, of course we were shorter strips. And so it’s, I, I have interest in both you know, go to museums, nice restaurants, but I divided a little bit with what I’m doing with home.

Peter O’Toole (00:20:45):
So what’s your favorite rest of what is your favorite type of food when you eat out?

Judith Klumperman (00:20:53):
I like a lot. I think the Asian kitchen, like the Currys Indian Thai. I really, really liked it. Yeah.

Peter O’Toole (00:21:03):
Do you get good Curry houses, good Indian restaurants in the Netherlands.

Judith Klumperman (00:21:05):
Not so much in the Netherlands. No, no Thai, You have more Thai. Yeah, not, I know in England, there’s a lot of Indian restaurants. I always like to go to an Indian restaurant in England. It’s there, but not so much, but we know where to find them.

Peter O’Toole (00:21:21):
Which is always good. And I’ve got, I’ve just, I’ve. I’ve got to ask this one question. What is your favorite bird

Judith Klumperman (00:21:31):
That I think that is the, the, the Cory [Inaudible] that we saw in Australia and we I don’t know whether it’s special, but it’s big, big, big birds. And he was displaying. It was, it was great that you had all of these feathers and in the beginning, we hardly could see believe it was a bird. And we saw that and we saw the lady bird rounding it, and also kangaroos jumping at it was an amazing site. I think we sold it in 1994 or so. So a long time ago already, but still it’s still there.

Peter O’Toole (00:22:14):
I think you said it takes you to some amazing places. So I assume this is a local reserve,

Judith Klumperman (00:22:20):
Right? This is just, this is just at the entrance of our village. Yeah.

Peter O’Toole (00:22:25):
Typical. So we have a nice local nature reserve with weed beds, but nothing as big.

Judith Klumperman (00:22:33):
It looks very big. It is six hectare. I don’t know the English word for it is. So actually this was one of the things that, that Hans was involved in. Many of us coming to live here 50 years ago, and they wanted to make new houses here already they wanted to make new houses on the other side of the road. And he said, okay, let’s dig it from here and put it on the other side. And then it was so low that they only could make nature reserve of it and not plan another, you know, lots of houses. And now it’s, it’s quiet, it’s small, but it quiet all the left developed. There are a lot of orchids. I mean, you have a black tern colony, which returns to every year. And so quite some people are coming and to, to photograph it. And yeah, it’s, each day and I returned from work. You know, this is, this is coming home.

Peter O’Toole (00:23:28):
That’s a whole black dog. We go into birding now, which he’s not coming back from that. So you were mentioning about sharing the importance of sharing electron microscopy access to it. Of course you led on the national Netherlands. Bioimaging I tell you what would be the right term, which has become part of, Euro-Bioimaging as well. And I think just expanded very recently, I think looking at the last thing, so what, why is you Bioimaging? Why is bioimaging and sharing these notes so important? What is it enabled that you couldn’t otherwise do?

Judith Klumperman (00:24:07):
Yeah. So the are parts of of Euro bioimaging and I think he also met there a lot in the, in the, in the, Euro Bioimaging. And so, and that, so I was there for CLEM connecting the light microscopy to the electron microscopy, and that, that really inspired the idea of, of sharing technologies and with what we discussed already that imaging has evolved so much, there are so many imaging technologies now and that, that need expensive equipment that needs really expert operators. So it is really changing that, that in one lab, you try to do everything the whole day to that you take a question and you use these different technologies and you, you, you used all of them, part of it. So it is much better than to, to, to make sites where a technology is, is developed to the max and that you allow other people to get that size, then that everybody tries to do the same things. And I think that is, that is what Euro bioimaging, and also what you show here. So inspired by Euro Bioimaging. We also went for a Dutch infrastructure on electron microscopy and, and that was granted that is also very nice. And it’s all the idea that, that so I think everybody needs a basic infrastructure on microscopy. But then for the really high end questions you can go to this expert places were very, really the, the best people can help you to to do your experiments there. And I think this is the added value of, of these large consortia that, that you, on the one hand can better develop the different technologies. And the other hand that you can provide access to a much broader user group than only your own local environment.

Peter O’Toole (00:26:36):
And just, just to put it in context, for for those who aren’t watching and listening, this was worth over 17 million euros, but that’s then distributed over. I can’t remember how many nodes, five, six different,

Judith Klumperman (00:26:50):
There are nine Universities involved. And so we, we chose some Flag ship technologies as we call it, like CLEM, like multimodal electron microscopy like the link between electron microscopy and mass spectrometry. And we also connected the life sciences to the material sciences and to the development. So we brought together also these, these communities. And so yes, it was it was distributed and also we set up in a chorus program. So it was, it was distributed over six sites

Peter O’Toole (00:27:36):
So and so And it’s obviously recently grown. Can I ask quite a work-related question, how many people actually travelled to the nodes is we noticed sort of, certainly in most facilities, some people will travel to nodes, but generally if it’s not on the doorstep, it’s harder to get people engaged. And, but how, how successful have you managed to engage other users from outside of each node to come and use that nodes?

Judith Klumperman (00:28:10):
Yeah, I think this is a very valid point because you have to be careful that, that all these, these, these great instruments are not only used by the nerds, you know, and that, that, that, that the people that are not familiar, does it start to realize how important it is to, to use some of, of, of the, of the microscopes? So what we do is we, we in, in, in the Netherlands, we organize these open days. I mean, we really reach out to to a lot of people but there is, of course always a clientele of, of, of hurdle for people to, to come to the Electron microscopes, especially when we started to do the CLEM. So also the, the light microscope, it’s easier already for people to collect, to light microscopy, and once they’re in, they, you know, they can connect easier to the electro-microscope and but it isn’t, it is. Yeah. Also, so, so training young people connecting different areas, but still, also in naming the Netherlands EM infrastructure, we are still in a group together, so that the outreach to, to other people that that is also something that, that we need to take great care of. And in Netherlands together, we have not about 1300 people last year making use of mainly, but that is well, of course, of course, of the different all the different nodes to better. And I can’t say at the moment now, how many were from outside the Netherlands, but of course initiatives like Euro Bioimaging. And also we participated in [Inaudible], which Linked in microscopy to proteomics and the older technologies those are so important to, to get also the people that may not think of using microscopy now to, to also get them to the to the labs, through the microscopes,

Peter O’Toole (00:30:27):
Still a good number, 1300, even if it was just within the Netherlands and people are moving about within the Netherlands to access the best resources. Yeah. It’s so much better, I guess, to put it into one site and to duplicate it and have less use, and the expertise is diluted and no one can become so expert. So this is, I presume your own group.

Judith Klumperman (00:30:48):
Yes, yes. Yeah. So yearly pre COVID. Yeah. So that was a goodbye dinner of the PhD students on the right [Inaudible], who is now in the microscopy and development,uucompany. Yeah. So,uwe like to have,ufun

Peter O’Toole (00:31:11):
Taking the picture is,

Speaker 1 (00:31:13):
Oh, Nalan, Nalan Liv. And so she’s a very important person in the lab. And so we were talking why I was becoming an electron microscopist, and then I said, well, I’m a cell biologist. And so this is, I, I really do not know so much about the technology. And and Nalan knows both about the technologies. She did her PhD in physics and the cell biology. So she she combines a lot of knowledge is highly valuable, like intellect. And she also likes to party.

Peter O’Toole (00:31:55):
I can testify to that actually I had the great pleasure to actually be one of the viva people for, for Nalan on her PhD from Jacob’s lab. She was in delv. Oh,

Judith Klumperman (00:32:06):
Okay. Yeah, sure. Yeah, yeah, yeah. But

Peter O’Toole (00:32:11):
Actually for those listing, the viva system in the Netherlands is quite different to some of the other countries, the actual system, the viva system the day of passing out, I don’t know what the right term is the day you actually gain your PhD. It’s still very ceremonial. You know, I couldn’t believe it when you have to still gown up and ask questions and let’s so describe the system for those who are not aware of what it’s like on PhD day. I said the day of your viva.

Judith Klumperman (00:32:47):
Yeah. So it is yeah, so he, we have quite some old universities in the, in the Netherlands, like Leiden and Utrecht, and they have these old buildings so that in the middle of the city center, so that already gives her a, you know, quite some cache to it. And so yes, we dress up the hats and the, and the, and the robes. And then we have a person is called the Beadle and he or she has this stick with all the bells. And so that person works in front, walks in front, and then we are coming, you know, the Corteche. And after that, there is the person that is going to get the PhD was to office par her names as you call it. And then we have a ceremony. There is audience there. And yeah, we ask question and we have to be very formal So I would be a candidate. I congratulations your thesis. Although you’ve been with them for four years, it’s silly. And then after exactly 45 minutes to beadle comes back again, and she stands with the with the staff on the, on the ground and she says, aura est, and then we all have to shut up and then we stand up again. And now if we rise, everybody has to rise it. Yeah. It’s formal. And then you come back and then, you know, it’s the, the bill, as we call it, the diploma is it’s given to the person we are allowed to applaud. And and then we have a party.

Peter O’Toole (00:34:34):
Yeah. It’s very different to what it is, how it’s performed in the UK. And I don’t know what’s better, actually. I really like, I really enjoyed

Judith Klumperman (00:34:46):
Because we, we try now to ask people from abroad and they all love it. So yeah, I think that is what tradition, is, it, it gives it a bit more to an ordinary event.

Peter O’Toole (00:35:02):
And I remember fairly well, just how good Nalan was. I say she, she was excellent. I remember, and you still get asked questions, which can be difficult questions, but now your audience or your peers and your family listening to you being grilled maybe the grilling is very formal, but maybe slightly friendlier than, than it can be maybe in other systems, but that was a wonderful day. So please say hello to Nalan for me it’s super cool for us. So you CLEM so for those who are not familiar with CLEM hence at the start. We mentioned the light microscopists, electron microscopy cell and biologist. Would you like to just very briefly describe CLEM and why CLEM is so important.

Judith Klumperman (00:35:52):
You look at the same sample by light microscopy and electron microscopy, and it is important because it is the same sample. And that means that you can put the information you get from both technologies right over each other. And so you can use so, so light microscopy is of course, very good to get an overview. It has a a great sensitivity to detect proteins. You can look at live cells, you can look at active proteins and these are all things we cannot do or not so well by electron microscopy and electron microscopy is of course great in, in, in the resolution that you can, how much you can zoom in, in reframing the context information. But now we, you can, for example, look at, let’s say, as a lysosome, my, my favorites compartment by light microscopy and see how it is distributed by looking at the marker. And you can look by electron microscopy see by morphology, this is lysosome a nice job, but you get your information from two completely separated technologies. And now you can start to, to overlaid it and say, this is an active compartment. Here are hydrolase is active, or this one is moving. And so it’s, it’s by integrating these, these functional parameters also morphology you, you really increase the knowledge you can gain. So CLEM , so I had to be a short answer.

Peter O’Toole (00:37:40):
It’s probably going to where it leads onto the next question anyways, what’s the next big challenge? What’s the next?

Judith Klumperman (00:37:50):
No, I think the the bottle necks are the overlaying of the information. So the accuracy there that mostly also the the electron microscopy so the, the throughput of the technology I think there are the multiple challenges that is combining more types of, because CLEM, you know, you can, you have different types of light microscopy and different types of EMs. So there are, there’s more to, to gain there the accuracy of the technique and also the throughput. And of course automation of of, of the image processing is important there. And also now if you go to 3d images we all can gain that. You know, this is not a surprise saying that everybody’s saying that by more automation of, of recognizing the structures you are looking at,

Peter O’Toole (00:38:57):
You then jumped in as well to 3d EM and I know most in the field will know that 3d EM how it’s done some of the, the nonspecialists listening in watching it may not. And how can you get it 3d electron microscope image?

Judith Klumperman (00:39:15):
Yeah. So there are definitely different ways to do that. You can just make sections as you always do, and put them in a row together and then, you know, pile them up and make a 3d image or you can make a tomography or you can use the, Fib Sem these days. So I think this is one of the major innovations now that we can use Fib Sem to look at the interior interior of the cell. So SEM scanning electron microscopies, is developed to look at the surface. So you look at the surface of an off sample, but then you can remove the surface by the fifth to folks that I am being, you can make the next picture. So it is like serial sections, but with it goes quicker and you can make for nanometer dissection’s. So you have much less gaps. And again filing up those pictures in, in, in in one file gives you a 3D image,

Peter O’Toole (00:40:17):
Which, which take you back now again, to when electron microscopy, shouldn’t follow that, because it’s not going anywhere. 3D EM was not really a thing back in the nineties. It’s been revolutionized, I think by the, by the Focus Ion beams, the Fib Sems, and I guess, and also

Judith Klumperman (00:40:39):
The, also the, the digital images so that you can combine the images on the computer.

Peter O’Toole (00:40:46):
Yeah. I never really thought about trying to stack a load of Polaroid photos on top of each other to see a 3d that was never going to work. Was it? Yeah. So

Judith Klumperman (00:40:54):
When I started, I was only using negatives.

Peter O’Toole (00:40:57):
Yeah. I just love the idea of trying to get your head around a 3d image with all these photographs essentially processed. Yes. I’m a system, whatever. Brilliant. And so, can I ask you, what is your favorite publication that you have been author or co-author on? I should have warned you at that one?

Judith Klumperman (00:41:27):
I think, yeah, I, I think the last paper is always closest to your mind. So I don’t have a real favorites but yeah, I sorta last, but then you remember how much work it has been, you know, all, all the questions you had. And, and of course also remembering that, that the, the pieces of the puzzle start to work to, to fall together. So for now, I, I would say the, the last paper that you had on the the effects of mutations in TPS 41 and how that affects the cells and also leads to a neuro biological phenotype.

Peter O’Toole (00:42:20):
And I have to ask, you may not want to answer, did it get, when you, when you submitted it to a journal, did it get into the first journal you submitted it to, or did you have to go to three different?

Judith Klumperman (00:42:30):
It was, it was hopeless. I really, because we are, we as a group are quite proud on this paper because we are doing so many things in that. And it, it was, you know, working with primary patient fibroblasts. It, it was not an easy thing to do. And then you end up a little bit in this, this, this gray zone between fundamental research and apply to research. So for the fundamental journalists, they say, okay, you know, we know already that helps us involved in infusion. So, and, and the applied set, okay. It’s two fundamental. And so we found a molecular medicine and we are really very happy that it’s published there. I think it’s a good journal for that. But it is yeah, it it’s having papers, put it published just like that. I don’t know. Maybe some people make that work, but it, it usually takes quite some effort to get your paper permission.

Peter O’Toole (00:43:38):
Yeah. I think that’s quite good to hear from yourself because obviously you are a leader in the field, so surely your publications just get straight in to the journal that you apply to.

Judith Klumperman (00:43:47):
No, we have to work hard for it, but okay. You know, I think this is the good thing of the refill system that, that you, that you get the feedback of other people to improve your work and that I really fell you. But some time times you, you come to a point that you think, okay, you know, you have done enough now, really give me a break. But I think this is, this is a lot of people will recognize that

Peter O’Toole (00:44:19):
It. That was an interesting comment because I can’t remember who it was. The previous guests mentioned that it might been Petra actually Petra Schwille that people now want the complete publication that they don’t want, you know, part of a story publication. Certainly when I was doing my PhD, post-doc it was publications were in bits. You know, someone would publish a bit of work, someone else, another group of published, so to add onto it. And you build a bigger picture. Do you, do you think also that there is now a drive that people reviewing it? No. Once it’s completely wrapped up in the publication. Yeah.

Judith Klumperman (00:44:58):
And that connects to what I said earlier that the possibilities are, are much wider now. So in the beginning I published papers with only electro microscopy and that, I mean, it can be done, but at its very difficult and, and, and, and rightfully so because you can do so much more by combining it’s, you know, these molecular tools and biochemistry. And what we experienced quite some times in the past is that you publish your morphology data or you submit them and then they say it’s descriptive. And then I really get you now because I always found out as a kind of, because there was a lot of molecular studies now it is more combined, but there were a lot of molecular studies that completely lacked any microscopy. So they only described one part of the puzzle. And I also always think, but we described the other part. Um but it, you know, it’s, it’s more difficult to get the morphology purple-ish than the molecular biology. So so, so somebody told me once you have to go from morphology to mechanism, and that is always what I have in my head now, I, that, that when you publish something, so we add unique information that, that, that, you know, is not easily obtained by other technologies, but you need to put that into the direction of, of the mechanism. And then there’s what we try. And but, but again, there is a limit to what you can do at first. And of course you can collaborate with a lot of other people or in other labs with at some point that this is, it, it becomes a massive paper. You have to stop now because otherwise you’re going to bite yourself into tail, you know, you, you, you are adding all the things there, but that you are losing what you get in the beginning. So yeah, that is always a point. Yeah. How to decide

Peter O’Toole (00:47:30):
For yourself say you’ve been on the receiving end of reviewers wanting more and too much. Do you follow that suit or do you buck that trend and say, no, no, no. And you review it as you would like your paper to be reviewed.

Judith Klumperman (00:47:46):
Yeah, exactly. When I review a paper, I put on the same quality criteria if I would put all my own work.

Peter O’Toole (00:47:57):
Okay. So you’re not, so you wouldn’t be someone who’s seeking those extra bits to, to, to complete it. You you’re sticking to how you think it should be done.

Judith Klumperman (00:48:08):
It’s going to be, of course, that you, that you asked for some extra experience if they are obviously required. But I, so as I said, I think an important thing about the review process is, is that we benefit also from each other. So that, that, that now as a reviewer, you, you can give important feedback. You can help to make the paper better. And of course you can see the, the lacunas in the, in, in, in the, in the, in the paper. And if it’s really not, not the quality, you know, you can accept and then you can’t accepted.

Peter O’Toole (00:48:53):
So moving, moving from what can be quite a stressful thing, what do you do to relax? You know, you’ve got all this stress, you’ve got the review, you’ve got the comments back. Maybe they’re not good comments, but what do you go, how are you going to chill out at a weekend? What do you do besides birdwatch?

Judith Klumperman (00:49:10):
Yeah, well, I mean, does this, if I go to assignment case, I work, I, this is, you know, this is, I do try to do every evening walking this dog and yeah, that’s a great way to relax. I’m outside. I’m, I’m often walking in the little nature reserve at the beginning of the, of the, of the village. And

Peter O’Toole (00:49:33):
Part of is this author, this, do you send this picture here? Is this also local to you? Yeah.

Judith Klumperman (00:49:38):
So this is the other end of the road. So on the one hand we have this marshy thing, and this is the other way of to vote. Yeah. So this, this I’m standing in between looking at left and right. Yeah. Yeah. So that’s great. And so we, we have, you know, we have all these routes that we can walk. And I, I, that is in addition, what I do is I read a book or I look at the Netflix series or you know, well,

Peter O’Toole (00:50:11):
I usually ask quick fire questions. So you say, do you sometimes read a book and what, what, what sorts of books do you read? What, what do you enjoy reading?

Judith Klumperman (00:50:22):
I, I read all kinds of books. So I just finished Scandinavian thriller which are, I really liked. But I can also descriptions of, of what happened in the past or persons and, and yeah, I I’m, I’m I’m I can read quite quickly. So I just read a lot of books you know. It’s it can be everything

Peter O’Toole (00:50:58):
Mean. So like what go to Netflix. So is that, do you binge watch a series? I, I cannot believe this, but Richard Henderson said he got into watching, Breaking Bad and as promised I have actually started watching it. So I did promise him I would and I now have the box that I am no slowly. It’s hard to find time,

Judith Klumperman (00:51:22):
But you have to, you have to be a little bit in control here. So we are not binge-watched watchers, so in the beginning we said only one evening in the week, and then in the weekend with Corona, it changed a little bit because there’s less diversion, but we are quite good quite good in keeping one series or one episode at a time because otherwise you’re just sitting there and then it’s also taken too long.

Peter O’Toole (00:51:59):
What type of go on? What, what’s your, what’s the trashiest thing you watch on TV then? Trashiest, trashiest. The worst that, the one that people go, you don’t watch that, do you?

Judith Klumperman (00:52:13):
My, my, my, my secrets. Yeah, well, not anymore. It’s really a long time ago, but I did watch the Bold and the Beautiful for a while. Is that trashy? I don’t know. It’s a, soap it’s a soap that we don’t really like. We don’t really watch so much television.

Peter O’Toole (00:52:39):
Yeah. And what about films? What sorts of, what’s your favorite film of all time?

Judith Klumperman (00:52:48):
I don’t watch so many films. I I’m not so good in sitting too long. So my favorite four times now, I really I really can’t say that. No, I I’m, you know, I just like a lot of things. I again, I’m, I’m always I’m always very involved in a movie or film, and I look at it, I can call these people because I always start crying. It’s you know, I be completely absorbed, so I’m, I’m, I’m, I’m in that movie, but then, you know, day after I’m, I forgot it. So

Peter O’Toole (00:53:35):
I think there’s a good thing about that, because then you can always watch the movie again and not know what’s gonna happen.

Judith Klumperman (00:53:41):
Yeah, yeah, yeah. But then I will cry again. They have all these tricks and they all very convenient.

Peter O’Toole (00:53:51):
Brilliant. So some quick fire questions then, are you an early bird or night owl?

Judith Klumperman (00:54:00):
Neither. I’m really in the, in between.

Peter O’Toole (00:54:02):
Okay. Bike or car.

Judith Klumperman (00:54:05):

Peter O’Toole (00:54:08):
What are you driving?

Judith Klumperman (00:54:09):
Oh, a hybrid a hybrid car.

Peter O’Toole (00:54:14):
Cool tea or coffee.

Judith Klumperman (00:54:17):
Both, I drinks three. I start with Tea then 3 coffee then tea then evening tea

Peter O’Toole (00:54:25):
Ooh. So I was going to say wine or beer. So if you’re still drinking tea in the evening, go on wine or beer,

Judith Klumperman (00:54:33):

Peter O’Toole (00:54:33):
Red or White.

Judith Klumperman (00:54:33):
Both. So at the end of the afternoon, we have a drink it’s white and then it’s in the evening is red.

Peter O’Toole (00:54:45):
Chocolate or cheese.

Judith Klumperman (00:54:48):
Also both. Yeah. Yeah. I like chocolates. But yeah, you know, I’m from the Netherlands. So I eat cheese.

Peter O’Toole (00:54:59):
I was going to say, can you actually say chocolate over cheese? If you’re, if you’re from the Netherlands, I did wonder post-docs or PhDs in your lab.

Judith Klumperman (00:55:12):
I have more PhDs but it would be nice to have some more postdocs because of course it’s also, I liked the PhDs. Sure. But it can give, you know it’s quite something to get everybody to the end of the TC. So sometimes a, an experienced post-doc is also very welcome.

Peter O’Toole (00:55:39):
And who, who would you say has been the most inspirational person in your life?

Judith Klumperman (00:55:49):
Oh that I can’t say.

Peter O’Toole (00:55:49):
Oh, okay. So, okay. I will change the question to who, if you could meet anyone in the world, who would you like to meet?

Judith Klumperman (00:55:58):
I don’t have that kind of desire. A surreptitious. I really don’t know.

Peter O’Toole (00:56:07):
Living or dead. So passed, no one. It’s the first time I tried those questions. It’s worth a go. How do you find balancing your, your the the lab and all the efforts and the grant writing the writing with your private life and actually having a life outside of work. Do you, do you feel as though you have a good balance?

Judith Klumperman (00:56:31):
Yes. although a bit less working hours would be nice. Yeah. Yeah. I think it helps to be married to a, to a scientist. So he understands and so I, I work a lot at home but that gives me freedom because then, you know I get stressed when there’s too much time pressure. So I like it when I just can go on in the evening or the weekend. I, I don’t mind. I just want to get it done. And yeah. Then after that I can plan day free or off. I used to have the time I’m out of that now which I called my three months schedule that I worked for three months, you know, just go for it and then had the long weekend that I really planned it because that was in the beginning, quite difficult when you’re young and you think now, okay, I’m going to go on holiday. You know, you just go and, but, but then there’s all these appointments and all these commitments. And so we, you really, in the beginning I found it very strange, but you really need to plan your free time now. So I try to do that.

Peter O’Toole (00:57:55):
I, I, I can empathize there. Yeah. That’s a difficult question. What have you found the most challenging time in your career in the lab? What was the most difficult time? Most challenging time. Yeah.

Judith Klumperman (00:58:08):
I think that is setting up your own group. Yeah.

Peter O’Toole (00:58:13):
Okay. So now could I ask, is that that’s the most challenging? What about the most fun time?

Judith Klumperman (00:58:21):
I think I’m having quite a fun time at moment. Yeah. Yeah. I, you know, every, every so you see it in, you know, I’m not person of the extremes, but I, I think that every time being a PhD is in a way, of course also stressful, but it is so nice to be able to, to, to absorb yourself in your topic and really go for it and setting up your own lab, being more in charge it’s stressful, but it’s also very nice and rewarding getting your first last alter paper out. It’s, you know, it’s, it’s all these, these things that, that are also, yeah, very rewarding. And now I like it that they’re, you know, all the young people in the, in the lab and and to see how it goes, try to coach them a little bit. And that’s also nice too.

Peter O’Toole (00:59:26):
And just, just best way to word this. If there’s one thing that you could change in microscopy or enable, or to make possible, what would it be?

Judith Klumperman (00:59:42):
I think it would be very nice if we had an sustainable financing system because a lot of people are now trying to get all of these very expensive microscopes. And so we are quite talking a lot also in the Netherlands about this, and this is all for five years, and then you have to, so a lot of the PIs, which should dedicate a time to microscopy are dedicating that time to get the money, to do the microscopy. And if there would be a better system for that, I think that that really would help on, on, on, on many aspects to increase the field.

Peter O’Toole (01:00:26):
That is a really good answer.

Judith Klumperman (01:00:31):
You can relate to that one.

Peter O’Toole (01:00:34):
Yeah, no, Absolutely. I think, I think many academics could empathize with that so much time fighting for the next bit. And I was going to say, what’s your first, when you get a grant funded, what is your, what is your thought within a few hours? I will be guessing one of your first thoughts is great. I’ve got that one next.

Judith Klumperman (01:00:57):
Yeah. But you should celebrate your successes. So it should last a couple of hours longer that, you know, you’re, you, you may, you may say, well done, enjoy it, have a party and celebrate it with the group. I mean you cannot always run to them extra on that indeed. It is, yeah, it is a continuous burning burden on a lot of, of people that, that, that you have, these are very expensive instruments. You cannot just pay that from your PI salary er budget. So something needs to be done there.

Peter O’Toole (01:01:42):
I don’t, yeah. I don’t know the answer to that. And maybe country actually has different ways of working. I think the UK is really good. York itself is excellent. But nothing’s perfect. There’s always those extra stresses beyond being able to freely work. Maybe that’s good because it keeps everyone on the edge and pushing and not sit back on your laurels. But yes, it is a challenge,

Judith Klumperman (01:02:12):
But it is complex because indeed of course, something of a scientist is expected here. And we cannot just sit there and say to give us the money. We have to do something ourselves. We have to try to, you know, to, to, to make the most of it. But you also have the commitment of the universities. You have to commitment of thegovernment industries, we talking about user fees and all these things need to be come together to towards sustainable model.

Peter O’Toole (01:02:45):
Okay. So Judith, we have been talking for an hour now, so we’ll need to stop. So sorry. Time

Judith Klumperman (01:02:53):
Time has has flied

Peter O’Toole (01:02:57):
That’s too fast, but do thank you so much for joining me today and thank you everyone who’s watched or listened. And please remember to subscribe to whichever channel you’re watching or listening on and get, go and have a look at some more. Because Judith, it’s been brilliant talks all about electron microscopy got Lucy Collinson out there. You got a Yannick Schwab out there, lots of other people in these areas. So tune in and see what they also have to say. Judith, it’s been fantastic meeting you today. Thank you very much.

Judith Klumperman (01:03:24):
It was very nice. Thank you very much, Peter.



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