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Lotte V.W. Stagsted and Milena T. Tronsgaard receive the Kjeld Marcker PhD Award 2020

Once a year, the Department of Molecular Biology and Genetics awards one or more PhD Awards to PhD student(s) who has defended his/her PhD in the past year, and who has made an exceptional effort.

Lotte Victoria W. Stagsted (top) and Milena Timcenko Tronsgaard

The scientific staff of the PhD program committee assessed the candidates on their overall performance. The scientific performance during the PhD study is an important factor - including publications, independence and initiative in the scientific work - but other activities, especially those that contribute to the department/university in general and to the PhD students' work environment in particular, also plays an important role in the assessment.

Based on these criteria, it was decided that this year the Kjeld Marcker Award will be awarded to two outstanding PhD students who completed their PhD between the summer of 2019 and the summer of 2020, namely Lotte Victoria Winther Stagsted and Milena Timcenko Tronsgaard.

Lotte Victoria Winther Stagsted  

Lotte did her PhD under the supervision of Thomas Birkballe Hansen on “Biogenesis and functions of circular RNAs”. She is first-author on a research paper and a review, and co-author on a review in Nat.Rev.Genomics. Lotte has had a distinctive impact on our PhD programme. She served as co-chair of the MBG PhD association and contributed significantly to the improvement of the well-being and the working environment of our PhD students. This was not the least due to her activity in co-organizing three PhD conferences which included topics like stress handling, communication skill or a workshop on publishing. She also participated in modifying the PhD session associated with the Kjeldgaard lectures, which made them more active and thus more attractive.      

Milena Timcenko Tronsgaard

Milena did her PhD under the supervision of Poul Nissen on P4-ATPase lipid flippases. As a target for structural studies, these proteins had long been very challenging and approaches with crystallogtraphic methods had been unsuccessful. Milena changed this dramatically, and ultimately managed to determine cryo-EM structures at 2.8 to 3.7 Å resolution. The resulting atomic models gave revolutionizing, new insights into the mechanism and autoregulation of these enzymes – a study that was published as a full article in Nature.

At the same time, her work initiated cryo-EM studies at Aarhus University. Milena greatly contributed to the successful establishment of cryo-EM at MBG, a technique that has become a centre piece of structural analysis at out department.

Milena has further more an impressive CV of personal development and achievements. During her studies, she has been very active in different types of public dissemination, particularly within UNF, where she served many functions, finally as president for UNF-Denmark.