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Ralf Jungmann (Max Planck Institute of Biochemistry and LMU Munich)

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#41 — Ralf Jungmann, Professor and group leader at the Max Planck Institute of Biochemistry and LMU Munich joins Peter O’Toole in this episode of The Microscopists to discuss the most frightening time in his career, how moving back to Germany from the US was the biggest culture shock and why writing grants is so important. Ralf also shares how 80s TV influenced his career, his obsession with the direction of air vents and why data science is the future.

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

Intro/Outro (00:00:01):
Welcome to The Microscopists, a Bitesize Bio podcast hosted by Peter O’Toole, sponsored by Zeiss Microscopy. Today on The Microscopists.

Peter O’Toole (00:00:14):
Today on The Microscopists I’m joined by Ralf Jungmann of the Max Planck Institute Bio chemistry and LMU Munich. And we discussed how we got interested in science

Ralf Jungmann (00:00:23):
Growing up as a kid in the eighties, I really was sort of sort of a big fan of MacGyver and Knight Rider.

Peter O’Toole (00:00:31):
The pros of grant writing. Yes, there really are some

Ralf Jungmann (00:00:35):
Say it’s really important to force yourself to write a research grant cause that forces you to think about what you actually want to do

Peter O’Toole (00:00:42):
His availability as a supervisor.

Ralf Jungmann (00:00:46):
The thing is whenever you want to talk to me, you can do that whenever you want 24 7 more, less, but,

Peter O’Toole (00:00:52):
And the most frightening time in his career,

Ralf Jungmann (00:00:55):
I felt like an imposter almost right. So coming here say can be gonna do a single molecule florescence and stuff here with, with all sort of applications and didn’t work at this point,

Peter O’Toole (00:01:04):
All in this episode of The Microscopists. Hi, I’m Pete O’Toole. And welcome to this episode of The Microscopists. Today. I’m joined by Ralph Jungmann for the Max Planck Institute of Bio chemistry at the University of Munich. Ralph, how are you today?

Ralf Jungmann (00:01:27):
Very good. Good to see you again, Peter.

Peter O’Toole (00:01:31):
I’ve got, I’ve got a ton of questions. I, I, I, I’ve seen you give keynote talks at different Conferences such as, mm. MMC EMC. I’ve given you, I think, different talks of different meetings ELMI but what, what got you into science to start with?

Ralf Jungmann (00:01:48):
Huh? So, I mean, growing up as a kid in the eighties, I really was sort of sort of a big fan of MacGyver and Knight rider and all these TV series from the eighties. Right. If you look back at today, seeing David Hasselhoff with his own sort of [inaudible]. i know it is a little bit sort of weird back in the day. It was cool. And it was really sort of, sort of MacGyverish type things that I thought, well, I really want to do something practical, experimental may maybe build something that that other people could, could use eventually. But then in the early nineties when my dad bought me my first computer, I really got into computers. And so initially I actually thought, well, after after high school graduation, in 2000, I wanted to sort of study computer science. And so I actually enrolled in computer science and physics for a matter of fact, because I, I like physics in school. Yeah. And then I quickly realized that computer science is not really about computers. It’s about, it’s about algorithms and programming and stuff. And I didn’t like that too much back in the day that has changed a bit. But the physics seemed so crazy to me that it just stuck around with it. at that point,

Peter O’Toole (00:03:01):
I, I, I just love the fact that it wasK night rider, MacGyver and

Ralf Jungmann (00:03:07):
Also A Team and stuff like it’s like, you know, the usual suspects,

Peter O’Toole (00:03:10):
I never had you as a David Hasselhoff fan, but

Ralf Jungmann (00:03:13):
David Hasselhoff was really popular Germany. You know, that right. More than anywhere else in the world, like,

Peter O’Toole (00:03:22):
Yeah. I think you get a lot of stick in the UK. If you said you were a big, David Hasselhoff fan

Ralf Jungmann (00:03:27):
Don’t hassle the hoff.

Peter O’Toole (00:03:31):
So you enjoyed the physics side of life, I, I guess, and coming through. So when you finish your degree in physics, I, I would say your big impacts is in the world of life science, I’m very much research orientated around DNA pains for microscopy purposes, but how, how did you, how did you then start to move from the physics into becoming the MacGyver of microscopy?

Ralf Jungmann (00:03:59):
That is a very good question, actually, because I actually got rid of biology in 10th grade in school because I didn’t like it that much or sort of, I can never tell apart any sort of trees and plants from each other. And so I thought, well, let’s not do that. But then when molecular biology or said biology is different, obviously, right. So it really started with my diploma thesis work. So I still did it got diploma back in the day before bachelor masters were introducing Germany. So I did my diploma research actually in the United States, in, in California working with Paul Hensman on atomic force microscopy. And so that was really the first time I always liked imaging methods. Right? So seeing something and sort of had a visual appear to be more than anything else. And working with Paul back in the day, I thought I’ll do some atomic force microscopy development, this project. He said, well, he’s not too much into a high speed AFM development anymore, but he’s really interested in bones, right. In figuring out how bone factors and what happens in osteo, prodic patients and stuff like this. And so I thought, well, that’s interesting. Well, why not? Why not look at this? So that’s how I got into sort of biomaterials. So to say, or biomechanics back, back in the day and that year at Santa Barbara, really sort of sort of got me hooked on sort of functional imaging in in the bio, in the life sciences basically. Yeah.

Peter O’Toole (00:05:23):
So AFM is also, I guess, is a very physics orientated technique. I, I know biophysicist we’ll be using AFM, but actually for the, for the general audience, what is AFM?

Ralf Jungmann (00:05:37):
Wow. So atomic force microscopy works like a record player more or less, right? So many people most likely will not realize how that works anymore. So this sort of analogy will come out of date at some point, but it’s basically a very sharp needle that goes over a surface and gets deflected based on the topography of the surface. And this deflection of this cantilever basically in the end is detected by a laser beam that bounces off the surface onto a photodiode. And so you can record really some small distances in XY and most importantly Z so it’s, it’s, it’s a super resolution technique if you want, that it’s much higher resolution and optical microscopy. But it’s, it’s limited in its applications in ology obviously, cause it’s a surface technique.

Peter O’Toole (00:06:23):
I, I, I, I, I just love the analogy to the vinyl record player And Uh yeah, the music of science at that point plays just, but I guess you’re not moving the cell around

Ralf Jungmann (00:06:35):
That’s host can, but you can hear that in water if you have good ears. Right. So it’s a really annoying 11 kilohertz. If you sit next to it,

Peter O’Toole (00:06:48):
So you went from your physics diploma to degree, which I presume is in Munich,

Ralf Jungmann (00:06:53):
That was in, in, in [inaudible] actually. So it’s a very, I grew up in, in, in the most, one of the most Western parts in, in Germany called Saarland. So it’s the, it’s the smallest non-city state in Germany. It’s about a million inhabitants. And so I started physics there and then I moved to Santa Barbara for my diploma research. And then for my PhD, I went to Munich. So that was in 2007 or so. Yeah.

Peter O’Toole (00:07:19):
So how did you find the move? I mean, you must have been quite young moving over to the states. Was that daunting? Was it, was it exciting?

Ralf Jungmann (00:07:26):
So the move to the US was exciting. I always, I always liked sort of United States I mean, growing up with the tv series and stuff like this, realizing that Knight rider actually took place in California, right. As the most of 80 serious did. So that was really easy for me. And so, I mean, if you’ve ever spent more time in Southern California, you know, that people are really open and easygoing and so that was a great time. And so the cultural shock actually funny enough came when I did the move to Munich. Right. which is obviously in the very south south Germany. And it felt like, so if you okay, maybe an analogy, if you go to a store in Munich, right. You don’t necessarily feel super welcome in the beginning when you come from the, from, from California, because in, if you go into a store in Santa Barbara, for example, say how, how are you doing house life? Right? So you get this chit chat in the beginning making you comfortable and see, can I help you with something? And so if you go into a, into a store unit, you have to feel in your foreign particle, right. That says, so what are you doing here? Right. You want to buy something? Why? And so this needed some getting used to in the beginning, but at some point I realized that if you sort of respond with a sort of similar Grumpiness then sort of people sort of warm up and it, it actually becomes nice.

Peter O’Toole (00:08:49):
I, I, I remember the same scenario just in the UK, moving from the Midlands to the, to a university in the south and go in a shop and it’d be polite to go in and say, good morning, as you walked into the shop. And I remember the looks, sometimes it was one of complete dismay. Other times it was look off, oh, I don’t recognize you. Who are you? And you realize, yeah, just, no, just go, don’t say anything just, yeah. Friendliness has a lot, but you never saw kits then when you went to California presume being as a big Knight Rider, were you always,

Ralf Jungmann (00:09:22):
Yeah, I have not actually for the matter fact, that’s, that’s still on the list, the 1 0 1 things to do before you die. Right.

Peter O’Toole (00:09:31):
So you went okay from Germany to California, to Munich with a big change. When did you start doing biology, hardcore biology or,

Ralf Jungmann (00:09:41):
Well, hardcore, but you could argue I’m, I’m, I’m still not really doing hardcore biology these days. And I will probably say that. I mean, I’m not a biology, but you biology by training. So I’m not gonna pretend that I’m, that I’m doing hardcore biology. It’s it really started more in the PhD when I moved into the field of DNA nanotechnology. So back in the day at, at UC Santa Barbara there was a coffee table in the lab that had a really nice window view to the Pacific ocean. So if you’ve ever been to Santa Barbara and have seen the campus of UCSB, it, it doesn’t get better than that. It’s right at the course of the Pacific. Right. and I read an article in nature in 2006 that had a smiley face on the cover and I thought, well, that’s crazy. So what is this? And I read the title, says, okay making nanoscale objects out of EMA right. And I read the article and thought, this is really crazy. How can you do something like this? And so that really got me got interested in the field of, of, of DNA nanotechnology. And then I looked up basically labs in Germany where, who were doing that at the time. And it was really only one lap at at the University of Munich. And I approached him if there was be a space for PhD and that’s how I got into this in the end. So this is really my first lot of interactions with molecular biology as a physicist. Right. And so first attempts were let’s say mediocrely successful, but I, I got the hang of it over time. And so that, that sort of making structures and interacting with objects using programmable DNA, really what got me sort of hooked to this more biological orientated research, I would say,

Peter O’Toole (00:11:23):
How did you find the adaptation moving from physics, which is a semi exact science biology, which is certainly not an exact science.

Ralf Jungmann (00:11:34):
Yeah. Interestingly, if you read a news article for my PhD advisor back in the day in 2010, about why DNA nanotechnology is so successful with groups coming from a physics background is that is no matter how sloppy you are in a molecular biology lab, it’ll always work because it’s so robust. Right. And so I, I found that strange beginning the end because I was the only student doing that in his lab. And so I thought, but that he’s actually right. And I think you, you need to get away with sort of a certain obsession OCD, to some extent that you have as a physicist. And I have that actually a lot. We can talk about that at cars later on, if you want to say you, you need to be really careful and really exact in certain places in the biology research lab, but not in many others. And I think the importance is to find out where you need to pay attention. Yeah. So all in all, I think it was not such a big problem to, to venture into that field because I always had fantastic collaborators teaching me how to do stuff in that area.

Peter O’Toole (00:12:44):
And so after, so you picked up your biology, you’ve got your physics background, so nuclear Cassis that you then went back to the US.

Ralf Jungmann (00:12:52):
So, yeah. Then so as after the PhD ended in 2010 I looked at, I made an usual trip that, that every sort of PhD student at the end does go to a conference and then travel around and visit labs where you are interested in for a postdoc. And I was pretty determined not to go into a lab that does DNA nanotechnology. Cause everybody, he told me, you need to do something different in my postdoc, right? You need to go somewhere else. So I looked at other labs, more imaging labs. So this single molecule fluorescence stuff came at the end of my PhD, actually through a collaboration with Philip Tinnefeld lab in, in Munich. So in the beginning, I, I still did AFM on DNA or orgami structures. And then at the very, and also when we developed sort of DNA painted was at the end of my PhD already back in the day I got into fluorescence. And so I looked at a few fluorescence labs in, in the states, but I also looked at two labs doing DNA nano technology because I knew them from collaborations and conferences in the field. And that was William Shih and Peng Yin, at the Wyss Institute at Harvard university in Boston. And that experience was just so much better than any other. I’m not gonna say names of institutes that I visited, but it was just so much better than anything else I’ve experienced that I said, I want to work there as a postdoc in this Institute, in this environment. And so that’s, that’s how I sort of stuck around in the field. So to say, so people, they didn’t do any super resolution across the right. So DNA nanotech lab, and they were sort of crazy enough to say, okay, this sounds interesting. Why don’t you come over and do that here? Right. So this is how that, how that started

Peter O’Toole (00:14:29):
Quite amazing. You kind of, you, you, you picked your PhD almost by finding what you, you had a passion for you, you picked your, your over in the US by finding a lab that fitted what your objectives were. And they, they took a gamble on that side, very successful in gamble. Quite good to hear that one, we won the US and being in the US, you sent me some photos and actually,

Ralf Jungmann (00:14:54):
Yeah. So that is back my diploma FCC on the license plates I Santa Barbara. Right. So I thought, I I’m, I’m always a little bit of, I’ve always been a little bit of a car enthusiast if you want to in, in the UK would say petrolhead. Right. so I really like, like the old Top Gear and Grand Tour and stuff. Like, I still enjoy watching that. And so I thought that one and only time ever in my life where I’m probably gonna buy a convertibles in the United States because it never rains in, in California, but seldom does. And so I, I bought the cheapest and I thought most many convertible, which is a right on MX five, no, in, in Europe. So that’s, that’s what I did. So I opened the roof and I bought it and I closed it and I sold it again after that year. So this was the parking spot at UCSB the right, right at the ocean. I still get sort of sort of the feelings that this is one of the nicest places on the, on earth I’ve been so far. Yeah.

Peter O’Toole (00:15:52):
So I have the ne the next picture may be completely unrelated, but it looks semi-related. Yeah. So by the way, I actually, I do you quite like MX fives?

Ralf Jungmann (00:16:01):
I mean, it’s taking up to old British sort of try and have those type things right. And done by Japanese where, where the car works actually. Right. But you say

Peter O’Toole (00:16:14):
It doesn’t work if it’s British?

Ralf Jungmann (00:16:16):
No, no, that’s not true, but it might, it might break more often then. Oh, no, that’s not true.

Peter O’Toole (00:16:23):
Yeah, you’re right. Yeah. The next picture is,

Ralf Jungmann (00:16:27):
Ah, yes. So that, that was one day we are sort of the same car, same parking spot,

Peter O’Toole (00:16:32):
Just, oh, so wait, this looks like a broken wind broken window.

Ralf Jungmann (00:16:35):
It’s side. It’s still side window. Yeah. And I thought, what an UN unintelligent thief, right. Because it’s a convertible, the roof is open. Why do you need to smash the window to then realize there’s nothing in it. Right. There’s a really crappy stereo that they didn’t take. And so I thought, well, that’s, that’s really not. So but yeah, that happened.

Peter O’Toole (00:17:00):
That that’s what was, when I saw that, I thought they can’t just smash the window to get into your soft top. The

Ralf Jungmann (00:17:06):
Wasn’t even close. Right. I mean, it was open. But maybe it was not for, I mean, maybe didn’t like the the red color.

Peter O’Toole (00:17:20):
Yeah. Gob smacked it. That’s bizarre. Isn’t it? Upsetting though. Certainly at the time you must been pretty disappointed by the whole thing that, that had actually happened to what was the best thing about you living over in the US?

Ralf Jungmann (00:17:41):
I think a couple of things, I mean, it’s really hard to say. I mean, the, I have the feeling that people in the United States and the west coast and the east coast are obviously a little bit different. Right. So Santa Barbara versus Boston is quite a change. Right. So Boston being more European, you would argue right. A little bit more serious in many, many perspectives. I always had the feeling that there was a, let’s go do it mentality in the United United States, much more than it is in, in Germany. So Germany is very conservative with all goods and bads that, that sort of accompanies that. So I always like the the sort of freshness and motivation about the people that saying, okay, this is something I haven’t never thought of. And it sounds crazy. Let’s just do it. Right. So that’s not think too much about it, but maybe that’s also part of living in a science bubble in the end.

Peter O’Toole (00:18:36):
I, is it just living in that sort of bubble over there, or it’s the funding mechanisms different that enables them to be, give them more freedom to, to shoot the things are

Ralf Jungmann (00:18:47):
Yes. Although I would say that the funding mechanism in Germany are actually nowadays better than in the United States. And so it depends obviously at which places you are. Right. But I, I think access to funding in Germany is actually easier than in the United States. Right. And so many of the labs, most of the labs in the states don’t come with with, with core funding. And I think that has also advantages and disadvantage. I would say it’s really important to force yourself, to write a research grant because that forces you to think about what you actually want to do, which is sometimes not such a bad idea. On the other hand, if you have sort of core funding that you can spend independently on the project you can just say, okay, this is really interesting. I just thought of this, let’s try this out. Right. And see where this goes. I think a combination of both. So I think what’s ideal is maybe a certain amount of core funding that lets you keep the thing running and venture into directions that you’re interested in, but that also the need to write grant applications, I think helps you to focus in certain areas. So

Peter O’Toole (00:19:55):
Yeah. And maybe extend the lab therefore as well, which is, which is a good thing talking to which how big is your lab I had a look at your website. And there was a, I stopped scrolling.

Ralf Jungmann (00:20:04):
It’s too big. Yeah. Although I have to say this is fluctuating, right? So my, I mean the lab is completely funded by third party grants at this point. So there’s, there’s literally no core funding. There’s one PhD student that’s core funded from the university, but everything else is, is, is the party grants. And so it’s 20 something people at the moment. And it’s still manageable. I’m a little bit of, I would say, it’s, you need to ask my student about this, but I could say it’s sometimes I’m a bit of a micromanager because of my OCD things. Right. But the, the larger the lab becomes the less, so you can be involved in all of the projects, which I really like. And so I think midterm, it’ll probably shrink a little bit again for sure. When sort of there’s a problem with these funding sort of periods, right? So you have this couple years of funding, then the lab really gets big and then all of a sudden it stops and it’s shrinks down. So I have to fear that at some point, all the grants run out and no grants will come in and then it’s just gonna be me. And

Peter O’Toole (00:21:06):
And you lost your lab skills by then.

Ralf Jungmann (00:21:08):
Oh, that’s already happened. So you, you, you realize that at the point where I really like tweaking microscopes and stuff like this. And, and also so I’m, I’m, I’m still a big sort of computer sort of guy. And so I’m probably one of the PIs and, and the students are always sort of, I would say astonished that the, your boss installs your computer for you. Right. And so I realized that sort of, I I’m try starting to lose my experimental skills when I said I went into lab and said, oh, we need to readjust this laser covering for this laser line and this microscopes. And maybe it’s not such a good if you do that, let us do that. Right. So, OK. I thought, well, that’s not now, it’s the time that I probably should not do that.

Peter O’Toole (00:21:57):
That means they haven’t seen you in action them and just go, no, I can do this. And then, then it kind of shows that you, you often do something. They cant say, no, cuz you know, they know that you, you know, that you could do it,

Ralf Jungmann (00:22:10):
But then I’m, I’m getting really nervous because right, there’s this competition about, ah, you get 80% of coping efficiency with this laser who gets 85%. And so, and I might actually lose that better not,

Peter O’Toole (00:22:22):
But I, I looked at that number of staff and because they are all your close lab, so you, these aren’t things you can delegate and positions that delegation. So report back these, these are research projects, your research projects, their research, your research projects. How much time do you spend with each and every one or is it a case you have more group meetings or subgroup meetings? How do you actually seriously manage that number of research projects going on at once?

Ralf Jungmann (00:22:49):
So I think the advantage is that most of the projects are not a hundred percent distinct from each other. There’s always a certain technology component. That’s sort of the same for projects or some certain techniques that people would use. Right. And so we’ve, we are going back and forth with group meetings and subgroup meetings and stuff like this. But my usual the thing is whenever you want to talk to me, you can do that whenever you want 24/7 more or less. That’s right. And so it’s, it’s subgroup meetings. So two subgroups and a group meeting every week basically. So subgroup one week, another subgroup is second week and then group meeting in the third week. And then there’s one on ones and focus meetings with people for, for projects. And so I still tend to be, to be involved in, in most of these part. At this point it’s still manageable my change in the future.

Peter O’Toole (00:23:42):
I obviously it’s I, and if you look at your publication track records, you know, it’s being prolific, I would say in recent years and very successful high impacting publications, as I say, we all follow your work really closely. It’s very, it’s awesome, but it that’s a lot of staff, lot of creativity in where this is going. And sometimes it’s whole new stuff other times in situations, but you still have to be very inventive to take that next iterative step, even what you do outside of work to balance that.

Ralf Jungmann (00:24:20):
So, so, so first things very flattering, but I have to say it’s, it’s much of the creativity. It comes from the people actually. Right. And so I was really fortunate. I I’m gonna come to the outside of work stuff in the second, but I just want to get this sort of out. And I think you have a picture of some guys sitting on a, on a, on a, on a, on a park bench there, right? Yeah. So this was basically the first crew at the end in Boston, that all came with me to start the lab in Germany. So they were all masters students, funnily enough, or Germans. I realized that it’s sort of nowadays it’s, it’s, it’s white male dudes, right. It’s not really gender balance. It is now. But so the, I mean the big part of the success of the lab in the beginning was really the first wave of PhD students that I had. Right. They basically set up the lab without me. Right. So knowing already stuff that they learned in, in Boston took that to Germany. And so you could argue, we, we hit the floor running when the lab started in 2015. So that was really instrumental. And so I’m still sort of,

Peter O’Toole (00:25:23):
So they came over from the US with you.

Ralf Jungmann (00:25:26):
Yes. It’s a little bit of a weird setup in that sense. So they’re all German. I think most of them are actually Bavarian not all of them who are Bavarian, and two are from Savian. So they sort of approached my PhD advisor. They, they knew that I was a postdoc in the states and they wanted to do a master abroad basically. And they, they really were interested in sort of doing nanotech and imaging and stuff like this. And then Joe also, who’s actually the guy in the green shirt, they have sort of approached me first and said, is there a way to do master thesis project in Boston somehow? And I thought, well, from my side, yes, but I’m not the one who makes the call that’s right. I need to ask really and fun if they, if they are, if they are okay with that. And they said, well, why not? I mean, I’m sure he should come over and, and do stuff. And this was very successful. And then other people sort of came, came there after and sort of, I, I was lucky to, to get a, as the first PhD student back to back to Munich.

Peter O’Toole (00:26:29):
So how many years ago was, did was this 2014 that they all came back because

Ralf Jungmann (00:26:34):
15, they came back. Yeah. So within a few months from each other, so the lab started officially in December, 2014, but really sort of was up and running early 15.

Ralf Jungmann (00:26:44):
No, that’s quite exceptional to start your own lab and actually have a pretty good core group, they were already trained skilled.

Ralf Jungmann (00:26:53):
No, that was perfect, but I didn’t need to do any interviews. And I knew them, they knew me

Peter O’Toole (00:27:00):

Ralf Jungmann (00:27:01):
Ah, yeah. So that’s actually be sort of, again, back to Santa Barbara times. So that’s a picture of Paul Hansma lab in, at UCSB. And I always thought when I started, and I’m gonna talk about the Bunge ropes in the second that sort of in AFM technology development lab must be super high tech and sort of the best optical tables and stuff like this vibration isolations. And then I really, the first prototypes of the AFMs in Pauls lab were made of wood, right? Cantilevers made of golf clubs shafts and stuff like this. And then learned relatively quickly that sort of Bunge rope isolation from the roof or from the ceiling of the room is one of the best things you can do actually in terms of vibration. And so, so that, that sort of sort of determined how the lab is operating nowadays as well. So do a, do a little bit of stuff quick and dirty in the beginning and then figure out where you need to be careful.

Peter O’Toole (00:27:57):
It it’s, it doesn’t look the tidiest of labs.

Ralf Jungmann (00:28:01):
Yes. I’m not, not my call to comment on this, but it, it is not. Yeah.

Peter O’Toole (00:28:07):
So, so what is, so that’s obviously really over there, what’s your lab? Like, is your lab tidy? Is it messy?

Ralf Jungmann (00:28:14):
It changes every now and so often. And so it’s it it’s at, at times it’s messy. And then I got, I could really upset and say, let’s do a spring clean or something like this, but I, I would say it’s more on the tidy side. Well, yeah,

Peter O’Toole (00:28:31):
So, and yourself at home, you’re a messy person ti I’m looking behind you in your office. You’re a tidy person, aren’t you?

Ralf Jungmann (00:28:36):
It’s relatively tidy. So I’m, I’m, I’m really obsessed with tidiness in some places and in others, I’m not right. So it’s, I’m coming back to the top key analogy. Right. So one of the hosts back in the day was James May, right? Yeah. And he’s sort of has this OCD where say, so he always likes to have the air vents in his car pointed in the same direction. And I’m exactly the same. So if someone moves them, I get really angry, but those are only little things,

Peter O’Toole (00:29:05):
Which is interesting. So I’d never say his hair was well kept.

Ralf Jungmann (00:29:09):
That’s correct. Actually. Yeah. And so if there would be earlier pictures from me, which I haven’t sent so now the hairs gone, but in earlier days it looked like James.

Peter O’Toole (00:29:22):
Wish you’d sent those pictures though. We’re talking of back back to the lab 20 staff. What do you do outside of yeah. Work to relax.

Ralf Jungmann (00:29:34):
So I mean, back in the day I’m, I’m sort of really keen on orchestra music. So I learned to play the clarinet back in the day as a, as a kid. And so that I actually, that passion I shared with Peter, although plays much more instruments than I do, but I’m, I’m maybe better at the clarinet. We’ll see. But

Peter O’Toole (00:30:01):
There’s a challenge.

Ralf Jungmann (00:30:02):
I haven’t done it. I haven’t done it in a long time, but I mean, outside, I start, I picked up, I picked up sailing in Santa Barbara, actually also something I thought I would never do. Right. But I, I was really getting and enjoyed it. I had, so that’s actually, so with that, that’s the second picture for this. So there’s one with an outboard really had beforehand, but we can have a look at it later on. Yes. So this was Catalina islands. So in sort of off the course of, of Southern California, and you can tell, I had this sort of discussion with a former PhD student yesterday. You can tell that is a US boat because it had an outside barbecue grill on it. Right. And so I really like to sort of late by atmosphere in California, back in the day, if you just rent a boat, you didn’t need a license or something like this, right. You just could pop in and can go and say, okay, 10, 10 bucks an hour or something like this, you could rent a sailing boat. And we did that every most, most, every Wednesday. So there’s something that was called a wet Wednesday regatta in Santa Barbara. And we, we took place in just sort of often we, yeah. And it’s really, I mean, the weather is nice enough that you can save with flip flops. Right. So that’s, I can totally relate to this. And then back in Germany, I thought I caught up then doing my PhD. And that’s the next picture that you had on before with the, yeah. With the hat on, I caught my best friend from school and said, how, why don’t we go and, and, and get, make a, make a sailing course and get a sailing license to actually be legally allowed to rent a boat in Germany. Right. And we thought let’s do that. So we went to the B sea and it was freezing cold. Right. It was in September and thought, this is not sailing how I remember it. Right. So, and that’s that usually what happens. Right. So we get into things. So we say, okay, let’s, let’s go on a recreational sailing trip. And we realize it’s one week of really learning all the basics at night, sort of doing tests and stuff like this to pass the exam. And then but I do in fact have an open sea sailing license. So you can take it to the, over the Atlantic if you want. Not that I’m ever do that, but in theory,

Peter O’Toole (00:32:08):
Yeah. It just sounds, yeah, no cold. No, I can see maybe the attraction in the US.

Ralf Jungmann (00:32:17):
Yeah. And then the problem is in the Bavaria also, there’s no sea, right. There’s there are few lakes and people are always arguing a lake. It’s so nice to go sailing, but it just isn’t right. There’s no wind. So, but no, anyways.

Peter O’Toole (00:32:33):
Yeah. I think if you did inland sailing in the UK, there’s usually wind it’s it’s. Yeah. It’s not usually a big problem. You mentioned that the clarinet against petra. I remember when I did the podcast with petra and just the sheer number of different, very different instruments

Ralf Jungmann (00:32:51):
That’s impressive

Peter O’Toole (00:32:51):
And her family played as well. So if your family, oh, no, your family are too young, I guess.

Ralf Jungmann (00:32:59):

Peter O’Toole (00:32:59):
Anything yet.

Ralf Jungmann (00:33:00):
So the kids not here. And so I’ve also had this sort of discussion with my wife that they’re not going to preoccupy them with sort of anything that we think they should do. So they, I always said that I want to learn another instrument together with my kids, but maybe I’m not gonna do that. I’m gonna do that separately. Right. I have always been a big fan of the French horn I’ve never played it. I’ve never learned how to play it, but I’m obviously also a bond movie fan. And sort of, you might realize that he has trumpets in sort of theme songs from bond, but there’s also really a lot of French horn stuff. And I can totally relate to that. So maybe at some point, this will happen.

Peter O’Toole (00:33:37):
Does your wife play any musical instruments?

Ralf Jungmann (00:33:39):
She’s does. And unfortunately, I actually do not know the English word for that, but in German it’s, Hackbrett and it’s this little thing of strings where you have sort of, there’s also something in, in, in, in some of the pink Floyd songs where it’s actually used, but it’s a more traditional instrument I would say. And I’m always make, make fun that video, we cannot play together because it’s too traditional for me, but that’s, that’s not true. I just need to write a find arrangements to to do that together. Yeah.

Peter O’Toole (00:34:08):
And so I, I’m looking forward to the next conference where yourself and Petra on the clarinet.

Ralf Jungmann (00:34:16):
Oh no. I said something. Yeah.

Peter O’Toole (00:34:20):
I think that would be maybe a ELMI always has the has the dance, doesn’t it in the evening dance way more, a proper, crazy dancing. I, I would argue for some of that, but quite often at the start, I mean, we’ve had [inaudible] come up and sing. We’ve had all sorts of different interactions and participation. That would be rather different if you, you and Petra actually had a LA net off. Is that what it’d be called play between the two of you

Ralf Jungmann (00:34:47):
Not play. Yeah. But yeah. So one duet, right. So one will do that.

Peter O’Toole (00:34:54):
When you saying actually don’t want to lose

Ralf Jungmann (00:34:56):
No, that’s fine. I know that I will, but I need to, okay. I need to go and practice. No, no.

Peter O’Toole (00:35:04):
So actually you said what, you know, you ended up doing what you wanted to do, you know, you were the MacGyver of science or microscopy, inventing new tools, new, new solutions today. If you could beat anything today, what would you be?

Ralf Jungmann (00:35:24):
So I think if I would study again, I would probably do the same thing, but I would nowadays times have changed, obviously when I started in 20, in 2001, my studies I would probably go into data science nowadays, I guess. Because we are all also venturing a little bit into more data science type applications for microscopy, which is sort of up and coming a lot. Right. And I think they are very useful tools to be explored, but I would want to understand better how the core techniques we were of artificial intelligence, for example, or machine learning, if you want. Right. So probably data science would be what I would do today. Yeah.

Peter O’Toole (00:36:05):
And do you think you’ll move your lab in that direction then?

Ralf Jungmann (00:36:08):
Maybe not completely, but partly maybe the

Peter O’Toole (00:36:13):
Data. So that’s a, that’s a very good point. So that’s obviously diversifying your research. Hmm. Yeah. How important do you think that is to always be not, not going down the same path, actually stepping outside and trying other crops in other fields, I guess would be

Ralf Jungmann (00:36:29):
Nice. I think it’s very important. I think it’s important in the sense to keep a feeling of what is really useful for your own research. Right. And I think machine learning approaches is a good example for this, right. Where you say, okay, I mean, we are doing this DNA barcoded the, the DNA barcoded mic microscopy. Right. And so one of the part pieces of this is that it’s able to do multiplex in relatively easily. So looking at many, many molecular components at the same time, but you, if you, as a visual human, if you look at the pictures and you have more than three colors in there, it’s really hard to make sense of the data, right. If you now say, okay, maybe you have a, a 30 Plex image of a cell or something like this at some point, maybe that will happen, right. Uh, there’s no way you can correlate anything. Right. And so think, sort of computer vision, not really, but machine learning, type approaches are really useful in, in that, in that direction. And the other thing I’m always keen on learning is, new biological applications. And that’s actually why I’m super happy that the lab started, physically here at Max Planck for Bio Chemistry, because there are so many cell biology, biochemistry, and, and biology groups around that have questions and applications where you could directly apply sort of the techniques that, that we develop in the lab. And so I’m learning new things every week, basically, right? From early gene acting to, uneuro neurodegenerative diseases, and so on and so forth. So I think being open, and I’m not saying again, that I’m gonna be an expert in one of those fields because I’m not gonna be right. I’m not a biologist by training, but knowing enough about these subjects to figure out where are the big questions and where could the te development group like us make a contribution that always gets me excited. Right. Right.

Peter O’Toole (00:38:28):
So you are a very upbeat, positive person. But if you reflect back, what has been the most difficult challenges you’ve had, what’s the most difficult times in the re in your research career?

Ralf Jungmann (00:38:41):
So the most you could say difficult or frightening times was really the start of my postdoc in Boston, because what happened at the end of my PhD. And I, I have not told that to many people, but sort of the DNA stuff didn’t work anymore. So, and I didn’t, we didn’t realize at, at the point, what was the issue? So we ne we didn’t get the surfaces right anymore. There was no sort of transient DNA binding and blinking in the images anymore. And I went to the US starting a post precision with the feeling that, oh, oh, this doesn’t work. And so, and, and I don’t know why. Right. And so this was really a sort of an un sort of an un unnice feeling if you want. Right. And so then what really sort of solved that issue, the dam was that it apparently were some of the components from step a that we used for remobilize structures on the kind of glass surface where the manufacturer has changed some sort in the way that they produced it different lot. Didn’t do the trick anymore as it did, as it usually does. Right. And so a teaming up with a really fantastic biochemist Zhijian Chen than in, in, in the United States sort of solved that issued them relatively quickly again. So that sort of I felt like an imposter almost, right. So coming here saying, okay, we’re gonna do this single molecule for us and stuff here with, with all sort of applications. And I knew it didn’t work at this point, but thankfully that was, that was, that was over. And

Peter O’Toole (00:40:15):
I think that’s actually something else that to, Biochemist, by training myself and, you know, recording each batch number, especially the chemist that were in the lab at the time, you know, ev everything you do every time you have a different, one of the chemicals you use, you always know to the batch number and it’s remarkable, isn’t it? Why aren’t it? These are big companies. Manufacturing, the same thing day in, day out at, you know, high grades and yet a batch can be wrong or change. And, and that’s crazy, isn’t it? That that can happen.

Ralf Jungmann (00:40:48):
It’s something incomprehensible for a physicist, right? You’ll think

Peter O’Toole (00:40:52):
It’s incomprehensible for most of us but the importance of having those batch numbers. So you could actually look back and find that there was something subtly different at that point and, and where the change occurred. Yeah. I, I, I do wonder even today, how many people in different labs are still keeping up that how many of your lab write down the batch numbers in their lab books? When they’re,

Ralf Jungmann (00:41:20):
That’s a good question. I should check that. Not that many for most likely, but no. So know what some, my, my people are actually relatively good in, in keeping lab books. So we have an electronic lab book system. So it’s a Wiki system where I think it’s the, the, the, the best feature of data that can actually search your lab book. And so back in my PhD, I didn’t have that. It was always terrible to find anything this thing. Right. And so, so that, I think that has improved things a lot. Coming back to your question, there was, there was this other belly of tiers. So to, in my career, I wouldn’t say necessarily that it was a belly of tears in the end, but it was a time of sort of personal uncertainty in that sense that the position that I started here in, in Germany was a non-tenure track position, right? So it was actually funded by the German research foundation, DFG, an program, which sort of gives sort of young research groups, early independence for five years. And that program is really great because you can do whatever you want in these five years sort of apply for the money. You get a decent startup package, but there’s no clear path for the tenure associated with this. And so that made me nervous a little bit in the beginning, I can say. But then I was it, I mean, together with C starting granted then came a position at university that sort of had a long term perspective associated with. So I think this is probably one of the, the biggest downsides on science career. If you want sort of this relatively long uncertainty before it’s figured out or not

Peter O’Toole (00:43:06):
For minutes. Yeah. I think that’s something that a lot of, a lot of people outside of science probably don’t appreciate within the academic realm, that there is that you have PhD and you don’t if you wanna be a postdoc after, and, and there’s all these career choice moments. And then, but once you’re in a postdoc, you know, it’s either into the academic career or you’re gonna go po possibly into industry or completely something different, but that’s a big step time that that’s your career point change. And I guess for a lot in science and academia, that’s quite a eight point in life to jump into a career.

Ralf Jungmann (00:43:39):

Peter O’Toole (00:43:39):
As you say, fellowship is a five year commitment. So in the UK, we call it a fellowship. You jump in and there’s no guarantee at the end of that, but it’s a very big a you’re backed with a lot of money, one or 2 million pounds to, to do something amazing. If that’s something amazing, doesn’t come about. Imagine if it was a DNA, if, if that’s kept have in that batch, it could’ve floored that sort of minor problem could floor a fellowship. And then their career falls off a cliff. And that they kind of back to where they were five years ago and have to find something it’s a difficult world. And of course not, everyone can become an academic leader like yourself, cuz the numbers coming through, it gets fewer and fewer and fewer. And there’s a limited number of places at the end. It’s a big, a big incentive to do well in those five years.

Ralf Jungmann (00:44:34):
No, I think it’s a, it’s a bit of pressure. Right. But it’s, I could, you maybe could say you could turn it into a positive pressure. So if you really do what you like, right. That’s always what I did for most of the time. That’s what I did. It’s gonna work out one way or, or another and I sort of, these things start to improve right. They more tenure track systems positions also in Germany nowadays. But there’s still a way to go until this is sort of,

Peter O’Toole (00:45:05):
But again, you are a very positive minded person. And do you think that helps being very positive minded?

Ralf Jungmann (00:45:11):
Yes. I think it does. And so 2d, aware that my immediate vicinity of people, my wife for example says, okay, so you’re blindly optimistic sometimes. Right. And I think that’s true. But this has saved me a lot of times right. Where things in the end turned out as they have. Right. And it was a okay. But I generally tend to keep a good portion of optimism. Yeah.

Peter O’Toole (00:45:39):
I know. I think it’s really healthy. Yeah. I got so quick fire questions. Are you a chilled person or an intense person?

Ralf Jungmann (00:45:50):
I would say mostly chilled, intense when I’m really excited about a thing, then I want to know what it, what it is in the end. Right. So it’s also been in, in, in my PhD. So then it’s usually the Friday afternoons when things start to work, ended up and I remembered my PhD advisor said, do not go home because you will never get it to work again to this point. Right. It’ll say, okay. Because I thought, well, okay, this works now. So I come back on Monday and I do it. Right, right. And so I, I did that a few times and it, and it, I didn’t get it. Right. And so at the point where things started to work Friday evening just stayed and worked through the night and did

Peter O’Toole (00:46:36):
So PC or Mac

Ralf Jungmann (00:46:41):
Macintosh. Yeah.

Peter O’Toole (00:46:44):
Mcdonald’s or burger king

Ralf Jungmann (00:46:46):

Peter O’Toole (00:46:47):
Germany or US

Ralf Jungmann (00:46:51):

Peter O’Toole (00:46:54):
That’s probably a wiser answer being as you’re working in German right now.

Ralf Jungmann (00:46:59):
I think that also helped in the sense that seeing another, from an academic point of view, but also from a personal life’s point of view, seeing a different environment is really healthy and really important because not everything is better in the United States. Not everything is better in, right. So you need, the importance is to figure out for you and that’s different for, for other people, most likely what sort of better thing do you take back and implement in your own scientific life, but also in your life? And I think that’s, that was really helpful. Yeah.

Peter O’Toole (00:47:34):
Early bird or night owl,

Ralf Jungmann (00:47:36):
Say again,

Peter O’Toole (00:47:37):
Early bird or night owl.

Ralf Jungmann (00:47:39):
Oh night owl for sure. Yeah.

Peter O’Toole (00:47:41):
Tea or coffee,

Ralf Jungmann (00:47:43):

Peter O’Toole (00:47:45):
Yeah. Cheers. chocolate or cheese.

Ralf Jungmann (00:47:51):
A chocolate.

Peter O’Toole (00:47:52):
Oh, good man. Beer or wine.

Ralf Jungmann (00:47:55):
Oh, wine man that has actually created issues in Bavaria. I, I don’t drink beer at all. And so my fellow PhD friends at at University in Munton said, oh, you’re never get into the inner circles of anything. If you don’t bring, drink beer in Bavaria, I thought, because I’m from a region in Germany, but that’s the wine region. Right. So mu and stuff like this, but it was in the, but it’s wine. Yeah.

Peter O’Toole (00:48:27):
White or red,

Ralf Jungmann (00:48:32):

Peter O’Toole (00:48:32):
You know, mostly well what’s the local wines. Are they mostly whites or reds?

Ralf Jungmann (00:48:37):
Ving is very famous. But it depends a little bit. Right. So I think that they they’re good and bad for, for, for both things.

Peter O’Toole (00:48:48):
Okay. I, I, I’ve already asked you if you’re a messy or a neat person. What’s your a favorite food?

Ralf Jungmann (00:48:54):
My favorite food is steak. Although I do, I, I, I do it very sort of seldomly. Right. And that’s the, one of the only things I do tend to prepare myself at home on the little sort of grill on the terraces and stuff like this. But yeah.

Peter O’Toole (00:49:12):
Okay. I, I, I have to ask is your a favorite cut of steak?

Ralf Jungmann (00:49:16):
Sirloin? I like a lot.

Peter O’Toole (00:49:19):
You got it ribeyes better, isn’t it?

Ralf Jungmann (00:49:21):
Mm. I’m not such a, that this is the, the fatty things. I don’t really like that,

Peter O’Toole (00:49:28):
But you got the it’s more tender.

Ralf Jungmann (00:49:30):
I can, I can see, I can see the appear for it, but it’s not for me.

Peter O’Toole (00:49:35):
What’s your least favorite food. If you were to go on a conference and you were to be taken out as a keynote speaker, they take you out for dinner. Quite often. It’s a set menu somewhere. I really swish. And somebody comes in refer to you and you go, oh, no

Ralf Jungmann (00:49:49):
I don’t like duck. Okay. That’s yeah,

Peter O’Toole (00:49:53):
You walk out on the duck if it was on menu

Ralf Jungmann (00:49:55):
The bench or anything, that’s more exotic in the sense, I’m usually a very cautious person person when it comes to sort of who things

Peter O’Toole (00:50:05):
What would you choose book or TV?

Ralf Jungmann (00:50:10):
Depends on what, but most of the times nowadays, I would say TV or YouTube actually for, for a matter fact, but for educational purposes. And because I, I said before, right? I’m, I’m, I’m, I’m a hetero. He, so I really like car track and sort of the usual YouTube suspects in that, in that in that sense,

Peter O’Toole (00:50:31):
I dunno what the usual sub usual suspects are for YouTube and petrol heads

Ralf Jungmann (00:50:38):
The usual suspects S garage Dr. Mural and so on, so forth. I’m not gonna say anymore because it’s gonna be embarrassing at some time.

Peter O’Toole (00:50:50):
I usually, I do ask what is your TV vice in this case? What is your YouTube vice go on? What’s your, what’s the worst tackiest or most embarrassing one that you actually stream or watch?

Ralf Jungmann (00:51:01):
Oh I would say the most embarrassing, I mean, again, I’m kid of the eighties, right. Also in terms of my music taste. And this was sort of also predetermined by my sister who’s nine years older. So when I grew up, she, I always sort of co listened to like depeched mode and likes. Right. So that sort of primed my music taste for the better or worse. And also for TVs series, I think I mean, watching night rider nowadays is probably embarrassing enough for this, but I’m, I’m really also big fan of Star Trek Soka Star Trek trek. So, so I have to test the okay books. I have the technical handbooks of the star Trek enterprise 1 71 Eve,

Peter O’Toole (00:51:49):
Those who were listening. My look then was one of,

Ralf Jungmann (00:51:55):

Peter O’Toole (00:51:57):
Imagine my sister’s also, I think, 10 years older. And so actually Abba, Elvis was certainly, its always bring you back to li actually listening to my sister’s vinyl records on my brother’s stereo, a HiFi. So yeah, they, I think, yeah, they always have a good, I think a positive influence, never a negative certainly never a negative influence

Ralf Jungmann (00:52:20):
That’s for sure. Yeah.

Peter O’Toole (00:52:23):
I, I can’t believe you have those books. Yeah, I take it. You’re a star Trek fan over a star wars fan.

Ralf Jungmann (00:52:28):
Yeah, pretty much. Yeah.

Peter O’Toole (00:52:31):
What’s your this is an odd question, but what’s your favorite item of clothing?

Ralf Jungmann (00:52:36):
Favorite item of clothing? That’s, that’s a, that’s an interesting question. And to think about just now so I would say in the summer it’s flip flops because I’m, I’m a very casual person in the sense that I, and that’s what I like to live in. What I liked about to live in, in Santa Barbara is you never need to think about what you wear. Right. Do I need a head? Do I need to coat today? No, you’re not. It’s gonna be 20 degrees centigrade. It’s gonna be sunshine outside it’s every day the same. So you just pick a thing of the same type of clothes every day. So that’s that, that would be heaven. Right. So if you would transform Southern California in terms of lifestyle and weather to Southern B area, I would be totally for that.

Peter O’Toole (00:53:23):
You missed the seasons.

Ralf Jungmann (00:53:25):
No, for, for sure not I’m not a winter person. I hate being cold. Right? I cannot, no, I think that’s not completely true obviously, but I could perfectly live in late spring, early summer climate. Not a problem at all.

Peter O’Toole (00:53:42):
No. And, and you mentioned, so the, the expert was your O C D

Ralf Jungmann (00:53:46):
Ah, yes.

Peter O’Toole (00:53:47):
What is this? Is this one of your worst habits?

Ralf Jungmann (00:53:51):
One of my worst habits is that I said before, right? So in the car, right. Air vents pointing in the same direction. If people move it airs are not there to direct the stream of air. You want it, they’re there to be exactly the same. Right. other things I can stand is if people touch my screen with their fingers. I, and so it’s even so bad that I cannot stand it when people do it on their own computers. I always get, ah, no, don’t do that.

Peter O’Toole (00:54:19):
Yeah. Utterly with you. And some people have also got more oily fingers than others. Yeah. It’s like, yes, no, yes. I agree. And the touch screen in the car, the touch green, it’s like, oh yeah, my duster lives just next to me so I can clean it off.

Ralf Jungmann (00:54:36):
Yeah, no, no, that’s true. I mean, I also have to, so my, my wife is the complete opposite, right. Under tech sort of nerd. So to say, and my wife sort of opposes everything that’s tech my as much as possible. Right. So it’s very, very interesting conversations at home. You can imagine, right. That she would rather want to have a car that has no electric windows. Nothing. Right. I’m the Opposites

Peter O’Toole (00:55:03):
Who cooks at home.

Ralf Jungmann (00:55:07):
My wife does.

Peter O’Toole (00:55:07):
Is she the better cook.

Ralf Jungmann (00:55:08):
Oh, for sure. Yeah.

Peter O’Toole (00:55:09):
I, I just wonder if you, I guess you had to say that if she listens to this back, you have to say

Ralf Jungmann (00:55:14):
That anyway might actually, but no, that’s pretty sure. I mean, we would probably starve to death. I want, if I would take over the control of the kitchen. Yeah. That’s

Peter O’Toole (00:55:27):
And then you get anything with the steak. If you’re cooking, go actually do cook the steak and then your wife cooks the sides.

Ralf Jungmann (00:55:31):
Most of it. Yeah. So the, the, the healthy things come from her side

Peter O’Toole (00:55:36):
And you have two children now. Yeah. Yeah. So how old are they?

Ralf Jungmann (00:55:41):
The oldest ones going to be four in March, so very soon. And the little one is seven months. So he just started to start to crawl up things and stand and so much to the amusement of the older one, because nothing is safe now anymore. Yeah, it’s a lot of fun. Yeah.

Peter O’Toole (00:55:59):
Boys, girls

Ralf Jungmann (00:56:01):
Two boys. Yeah,

Peter O’Toole (00:56:02):
Boys. Yeah. I have three boys. So

Ralf Jungmann (00:56:07):
In that sense, that’s true. I mean, in that, the useful thing is my sister. So my older sister has, has three boys as well. And so they inherited now a lot of, lots of the things from their cousins. Right. So for, for better others,

Peter O’Toole (00:56:20):
Which is always useful back, back onto more work related things. I, I, I, I tell you, I’ve asked this of anyone. What is your favorite conference?

Ralf Jungmann (00:56:31):
My favorite conference has for a long time, always been to foundations for nano science, F nano. So it’s a little sort of less nonconference in, in, in, outside of deno, no tech, but it always takes place in snowbird, in the us, which is sort of a ski resort outside of salt lake city in Utah. So, so that I, that I really like from the from the imaging side, it’s for sure Seeing is Believing EMBL uh at am. Cause I think that that captures both technology development, but also application sites really well. And so that, that’s, that’s one of my favorite conferences.

Peter O’Toole (00:57:10):
You, you mentioned the nano wants, start with it been a small meeting. So is that the networking or the content within it?

Ralf Jungmann (00:57:18):
I think it’s partly the content, but mainly the networking, I guess you they, that, I mean, nowadays, obviously not that many conferences I go to. I mean, I haven’t been to a conference in person for the last two and a half years, like many of us have. But yeah. So if I could, if you needed, if I needed to choose to that also yeah.

Peter O’Toole (00:57:40):
You going to any this year?

Ralf Jungmann (00:57:43):
Not planned yet, no.

Peter O’Toole (00:57:47):
Sorry. ELMI is coming up so that that’s I think that’s the only one physical one that I’ve actually definitely firmly in there.

Ralf Jungmann (00:57:55):
So that would for sure, be nice to to see faces again, not on the computer screen at some point.

Peter O’Toole (00:58:01):
I, I, I think there’s a, there’s a lot to be said for computers and I think the virtual meetings are being terrific, but I think it lives off existing networks to an extent, and it’s quite hard to really get to know a person. And I think

Ralf Jungmann (00:58:15):
That’s, I think that’s actually very true. And I had this discussion with a former PhD student of mine over, over the the last weeks is that for people at transition points in, in their career, it’s really a bad time. Right. to say, okay, you need to network at the end of your postdoc to get to know people in the field, right. To figure out where would be your next your next position and things like this. And having all virtual, all meetings virtual is okay to some extent, but the networking aspect. And so if the coffee chat aspects of things completely sort of lack in that sense. But I will hope, I, I mean, I hope it’ll get better again very soon.

Peter O’Toole (00:58:57):
I, I think of course I think it, I think it will. I, I, I, we are very close to the hour mark. I haven’t asked you, what is your favorite publication that you’ve all thought co-authored or co-authored for whatever reason.

Ralf Jungmann (00:59:11):
Okay. So let me think a little bit about it. My

Peter O’Toole (00:59:15):
Most. I can give you two how’s that two,

Ralf Jungmann (00:59:17):
Two is fine. Yeah. So it’s then the nano matters is 2010 paper for sure. So that’s the originally DNA paint paper from, for my PhD. So because most of the data, and I tell you why, I think it’s my favorite, one of my favorite publications of me, first of all, I’ve, I’ve done the experiments and written the paper to get C and stuff like this, but all of the experiment in that paper are mainly from one measurement. So it was, so we say, okay, now this works, let’s do it. Right. Let’s go in and record quite as many data as possible. And most of the things are from, from one, one measurement.

Peter O’Toole (00:59:56):
Right. So that sounds like the end of a Friday it’s working, carry on and you’ve got a whole public.

Ralf Jungmann (01:00:00):
Yeah. And so, so Christian basically slept over in my apartment because it was close to the university and he was living outside of Munich at the time. So yeah, that was, that was really good. And then the other thing that is sort of similarly is the 2014 paper from my postoc where we introduced this sort of exchange paint. I so the, the figure that sticks with this paper is the 10 digits, right? So the numbers on, on the, or, I mean, that’s a similar measurement bite to that.

Peter O’Toole (01:00:33):
And have you had any key inspirations in your life, whether it be scientific or personal, you know, who’s inspired you in your career.

Ralf Jungmann (01:00:44):
So the key inspiration to actually move into single molecule microscopy further than I did already in my PhD was really a video. So sort of nature methods of the year, 2008 super resolution microscopy. Right. And so I listened to Jennifer Lippincott-Schwartz and [inaudible], Stefan Hell, about this and sort of, I, I re-watched that video through the night, in the, in the summer before my, my postdoc started, I thought this is really, what I want to do in the future. Right. So This was that, that, that inspiration, for sure. Yeah.

Peter O’Toole (01:01:19):
So back to YouTube again, almost,

Ralf Jungmann (01:01:22):
Almost, yeah. Yeah.

Peter O’Toole (01:01:25):
It’s totally online watching Ralph. We are up to the hour and I, I, I think I usually ask sort of finally, you know, where do you think science is going? But I think you probably already mentioned that the big data or data science

Ralf Jungmann (01:01:40):
Data data science would be a big part, for sure. I think I’m, but that’s personally sort of preoccupied in the sense that I think combining sort of omic techniques with imaging in the future is something I’m really excited about. Right. So multi omics to, to that extent. And I think the techniques and microscopy techniques have developed so far over the last year. I mean, mobile price and stuff like this, obviously, but also after that, that you’re really at the point where you can see, okay, now you can actually use the tools to answer questions in biology that have not been possible before. So, so put them to use, I think in then will be exciting.

Peter O’Toole (01:02:24):
That’s cool. And a good, a good point to end on Ralph the McGyver of microscopy. I’ve just gotta get that name to stick thanks you very much. If you’ve enjoyed listening today, don’t forget to some, to which channel you’re doing. And actually you’ve heard about Petra Jennifer, Eric, and the like this podcast with them as well. So do get back and look, but Ralph, thank you very much for today.

Ralf Jungmann (01:02:50):
Thanks Peter. Talk to you soon.

Intro/Outro (01:02:53):
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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