JUSCOR Board members

Overview photo JUSCOR Board members

Members of the Board 2020-2021


Aurélie Zbinden

Aurelie Zbinden

Board position: President
Lab: Polymenidou lab
Nationality: Swiss
Scientific background: Biochemist
Fun fact: Loves to create crazy PhD hats
Favorite book: The catcher in the rye
Favorite drink: A glass of Nero d’Avola


Auri is a PhD student that tries to understand how native TDP-43 protein can become pathological aggregates in ALS and FTD. She has studied Biochemistry at the University of Zurich, where she already was active for more than three years in the student organisation Atamoi. She loves the lab life and is always up for some social events. In private, she likes to drink red wine, read books and listen to music. Auri has decided to become a part of the DQBM JUSCOR to make sure that the junior scientists at the DQBM have a really loud voice in the Department and in University politics.

Johanna Furrer

Johanna Furrer

Board position: Vice-President
Lab: Polymenidou lab
Nationality: Swiss
Scientific background: Neurobiologist
Fun fact: Broccoli-lover
Favorite book: Harry Potter
Favorite drink: Coffee


Johanna is a PhD student in the Polymenidou lab working on understanding the seeding properties of TDP-43 and trying to find immunotherapies for TDP-43-associated pathologies, such as ALS and FTD. She enjoys hiking in summer, skiing in winter and spending time with friends and family all year around. Johanna joined the DQBM JUSCOR because she thinks it is important that young researchers have a voice in the academic world. 


Tomas Demeter

Tomas Demeter

Board position: Finances and Grants
Lab: Polymenidou lab
Nationality: Slovak
Scientific background: Molecular Biologist
Fun fact: enjoys playing PC games
Favorite book: The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy
Favorite drink: White Russian


Tomas is a PhD student in Polymenidou lab working on understanding the roles of RNAs in TDP-43 and FUS proteinopathies. He has studied Genetics, Molecular biology and Virology at the Charles University in Prague. In his free time he likes to play PC and board games, watch movies and hang out with his friends and colleagues. 


Laura de Vos

Laura de Vos

Board position: Finances and Grants
Lab: Polymenidou lab
Nationality: Belgian
Scientific background: Biochemist
Fun fact: I have the sweetest border collie in the world!
Favorite book: The one I am reading
Favorite drink: a good Gin Tonic


Laura is a PhD student in the Polymenidou lab working on understanding how the regulation of oligomerization could play a role against the development of TDP-43 proteinopathies. She enjoys hiking, bouldering and camping with friends and her dog, skiing, cooking and having quality time with family and friends. Laura joined the DQBM JUSCOR because she wants to make members feel welcome and supported. Additionally, she absolutely values the voice of a young researcher in the academic world.


Nils Eling

Nils Eling

Board position: IT
Lab: Bodenmiller lab
Nationality: German
Scientific background: Biotechnologist
Fun fact: Brews his own beer
Favorite book: Animal Farm
Favorite drink: West Coast IPA

Nils is a Postdoc in the Bodenmiller lab combining experimental model systems with imaging and single-cell data analysis. He previously switched from molecular cancer research (MSc) to statistical data analysis (PhD) and back to cancer research (Postdoc). Enjoys traveling, hiking, rowing, running and playing video games. 


Priyanikha Jayakumar

Priyanikha Jayakumar

Board position: Events

Lab: Kümmerli lab
Nationality: Malaysian
Scientific background: Microbiology
Fun fact: Loves planning trips (with great emphasis on food)
Favorite book: 1Q84 (by Haruki Murakami)
Favorite drink: A bold red wine


Priya is a PhD student in the Kümmerli Lab and is interested in understanding how and why bacteria orchestrate their lives. It is indeed fascinating that bacterial cells keep their hands down until they know they are capable to provide an effective response and cope with the immune system. Outside the lab, she enjoys trying out new food, both eating out and cooking, travelling and has been into yoga in the recent years. 


Elena Tantaradini

Elena Tantardini

Board position: Communication 
Lab: Polymenidou lab
Nationality: Italian
Scientific background: Pharmacist
Fun fact:  ex volleyball player, wannabe singer and videogames addicted!
Favorite book: fantasy books in general
Favorite drink: Gin Tonic with a slice of cucumber


In January 2019, Elena joined the Polymenidou lab as a PhD student, where she tries to elucidate mechanisms of toxicity of TDP-43 and FUS in neurodegenerative diseases such as ALS and FTD. In particular, she is eager to learn how FUS and TDP-43 regulates RNA homeostasis in the axon and at the synapse.    


Désirée Schmitz


Board position: Political Representative
Lab: Kümmerli lab
Nationality: German
Scientific background: Environmental Scientist (majoring in Biogeochemistry)
Fun fact: Some people call me the baking queen
Favorite book: Pope Joan
Favorite drink: Ginger beer (the spicy, alcoholic kind)



Désirée is a PhD student trying to understand how multispecies bacterial infections function and differ from infections caused by a single bacterial species. She is fascinated by questions like “How do pathogenic bacteria interact within a host and how does this change the disease outcome”? Besides being in the lab, every good day starts with running through the woods for her, offers some delicious food (can be self-made), a workout at ASVZ, and ends with spending time with family and friends.