Lotte de Winde
I did all my education in the Netherlands. I did secondary school in Leiden, which is between Amsterdam and The Hague. For my university studies, I moved to Maastricht in the south of the Netherlands. I did a BSc in Molecular Life Sciences, and a 2-year MSc in Oncology and Developmental Biology. During my MSc, I did two internships at Tumour Immunology departments in Maastricht, and Antwerpen (Belgium). Here, I studied how immune cells can fight cancer. I did my PhD at the Tumour Immunology department in Nijmegen (NL) where I studied how immune cells in the lymph node can develop into a type of cancer called lymphoma.
The school system in the Netherlands is different than in the UK, so my qualifications are different and I don’t know how to translate them. Ask me a question about what subjects I did at school if you are curious!
During my BSc and MSc studies at the university, I worked in a theatre (checking tickets, behind the bar, in the cloakroom) and cleaned houses of elderly people to earn some extra money to do fun things. I did a 4-year PhD (this is common in the Netherlands), and graduated 3 years ago.
I am a postdoctoral scientist (postdoc in short).
I work at the MRC Laboratory for Molecular Cell Biology at University College London. Here, multiple different research groups study how the cells in our body work when you are healthy and what goes wrong when you are ill. There is also a group that builds new microscopes, so we can see every tiny part of a cell which helps us to understand the biology of our body even better.
The leader of my research group, and therefore my boss, is Dr. Sophie Acton. She is a very nice boss. She encourages us every day to do our best and helps us when we need it or have a question. In total, our research group consists of 3 postdocs, 2 PhD students, and 1 research assistant. And sometimes we have students doing an internship in our lab. Together, we are a great team, and I really love to work with them. Teamwork is very important for me in my job; I believe that it is necessary to do great science!
I am born in the Netherlands and came to London 3 years ago to do science. I am naturally very curious and I like to talk, which are good traits to have as a scientist.
In my research, I try to find out how our immune system works. I study the role of specialised glands in our body, called lymph nodes, which swell when you have a cold or are ill. This is important to activate an immune response.
My Typical Day:
I like to be at work early to start when it is still quiet in the lab. On a typical day, I first give new food to the lymph node cells, so they grow happily, and then I study them using a microscope. Often, I also meet my colleagues to discuss our experiments and results, so we can advice and help each other.
What I'd do with the prize money:
I would like to make a “build-your-own-lymph-node” activity that I can use at Science Festivals, so (other) children and their families visiting those events can learn the important role of the lymph nodes in fighting bacteria and viruses to keep us healthy.
How would you describe yourself in 3 words?
Social, organised, assertive
What or who inspired you to follow your career?
What was your favourite subject at school?
Biology and Chemistry
What did you want to be after you left school?
A paediatrician (= special medical doctor for children)
Were you ever in trouble at school?
If you weren't doing this job, what would you choose instead?
Primary school teacher
Who is your favourite singer or band?
Mumford & Sons
What's your favourite food?
Fries (triple-cooked or sweet potato)
What is the most fun thing you've done?
Paragliding in Nepal
If you had 3 wishes for yourself what would they be? - be honest!
I wish that I would 1) be a great cook (like people on Masterchef), 2) love to do sports, and 3) be a fun mom if I ever get children.
Tell us a joke.
I'm terrible in remembering and telling jokes...