Stefan Terjung (EMBL)

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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 Stefan Terjung from EMBL over in Heidelberg. And we discuss about the most exciting developments currently in the field.

Stefan Terjung (00:00:25):
Okay. Light sheet, super resolution techniques, faster, more sensitive, more correlative work,

Peter O'Toole (00:00:34):
And some really interesting sounding nights out.

Stefan Terjung (00:00:38):
And then we had a Halloween party in Russian discoteque that was also fun event, and it was close to sending you pictures from that.

Peter O'Toole (00:00:50):
Plus some a really questionable career advice he received.

Stefan Terjung (00:00:54):
Don't do biology. You will not get a job. Biologist are all unemployed. That's what they told me

Peter O'Toole (00:01:00):
And why that is definitely not the case.

Stefan Terjung (00:01:04):
Okay. One of the positions is currently not filled. So there will be a job opening in the next future. So might be that triggers a few applicants, so watch out

Peter O'Toole (00:01:15):
All in this episode of The Microscopists. Hi, I'm Peter O'Toole and welcome to this episode of The Microscopists. And today I'm joined by Stefan Terjung from EMBL Heidelberg. Stefan, how are you today?

Stefan Terjung (00:01:35):
Thanks Peter. I'm fine. And thanks a lot for this nice invitation, even though it's triggered slight imposter syndrome, looking at the past guests you had, but since it's always nice to chat with you, I thought I accepted. So I'm looking forward.

Peter O'Toole (00:01:53):
Well, it's interesting you say imposter syndrome, cause obviously you you're now comparing probably yourself against some of the Nobel laureates and the big rock stars of the development of microscopy. I would argue you are one of the rock stars of enabling microscopy I think that's equally important. And I think people forget how important the role of EMBL core and core and leading the way of core facilities that we've copied over in York and people have copied across the world. So actually, yeah, you're not an imposter. You, you are one of those megastar Stefan

Stefan Terjung (00:02:28):
You are as well. I would say Peter

Peter O'Toole (00:02:32):
Different. So you know, you are leading one of the, if not the most known microscopy facilities in the world. So that's the advanced like microscopy facility at EMBL, which is possibly one of the first core facilities.

Stefan Terjung (00:02:51):
Yeah. I think it's at least one of the very early ones. But so I'm, I'm, I would say core leading, so I'm operational manager and so Rainer Pepperkok is actually the head of the advanced light microscopy facility. And I would say we have a very shallow hierarchy. So I mean, they are all still relatively independent, I think. So we, we don't need to lead too much. That's actually the nice part. So it feels like most working on its own, that's actually pretty nice most of the time,

Peter O'Toole (00:03:28):
But, and how big is the team that's there?

Stefan Terjung (00:03:31):
Yeah, well we have Rainer but he's yeah, not on the managing side because he also has a research team and is also director of the other core facilities at EMBL now. Yeah. And then we are basically six staff members plus one postdoc, but okay. One of the positions is currently not filled. So there will be a job opening in the next future. So maybe that triggers a few applicants. So watch out. And on top there's the Center for Bioimage Analysis where Christian Tischer is now basically having a small team or starting to have a small team having image analysis, not only for like microscopy, but also electron microscopy, but he still, yeah. Certain to a certain extent joined in the [Inaudible]. And so depends on if you want to count it or not, but yeah, I would. So I would say we are six and a half because the postdoc is shared with the lung center at the university, plus the image analysis people

Peter O'Toole (00:04:49):
And that team is, that changes quite frequently. You people come in and go, come in and go, you came in and you are still there. What happened?

Stefan Terjung (00:05:03):
Yeah. That's maybe the other imposter syndrome call yeah, I, I think you, you had this in other interviews with other people. So typically we have for staff up to nine years at the EMBL, and then latest people have to leave. But there are exceptions and I'm still very happy that I'm one of the exceptions. So I passed in nine years and I'm actually this year, 19 years at EBML and it's on a rolling contract base. So I'm, I'm reviewed every four years. If everything is fine and actually I think that's a very good way to still have a certain dynamic and, and also keep the motivation running. But yeah, that means yeah, our stuff is not there forever, but on the other nine years is well, okay. Sometimes you have the feeling time is flying on the other hand, it's, it's not too short, like sometimes at university where it's like one or two years only, and then people already have to look for something, I at least need a new contractor. So, so I mean, okay here, it's typically also three years contracts, but the nine years if it works fine typically more or less. Yeah.

Peter O'Toole (00:06:24):
Yeah. And maybe it's not. So as you say, you know, academia in your first postdoc years, you, you get three years, five years and, but, but you end, you do end up settling somewhere and it's very rare for people to settle at EMBL in Heidelberg. And you are one of the settled ones. I gotta say. I didn't realize you're still on four year rolling contract. So how stressful is that your family there? Everything's there.

Stefan Terjung (00:06:50):
Yeah. I mean I'm not very stressed about it, so I hope that's not too bad because I think as long as I'm performing I'm, I mean, usually it's really fun to work here. And I'm very motivated as long as the facilities needed and not yeah, very new topics coming up that cannot help anymore. I think that should always work. And yeah, so I, yeah, had more, less two of these reviews now and okay. It's a bit of work on the other hand. You also I mean, I, I have to more or less write what I did in the last four years then, and I actually also like it a bit because you really look back and get an idea, okay. Actually that happened in these four years because otherwise yeah, you very often just have this, this rolling shutter feeling. so always, there's no big differences from one day to the next, most of the time. But if you look back like two years, four years yeah, there is actually a lot much, much happened. So, and therefore it's, it's not that bad. I think so. I, I think it's nice. And so our core facility are reviewed every four years anyway, and it's close too. So that's actually another good reason to go through publications, what happened, what's with the instruments. And so that part, I don't find that stressful anymore.

Peter O'Toole (00:08:31):
That's a relief cause it's, it's not nice. I'm very fortunate. I have an open contract and many, I think, many in the UK, once they become, once they get involved in the core facilities, they do get an open contract and career career progressions can be good in other places, not so good. So it's a bit hit and miss on, on that side. I I'll take you back in time. How, how did you even fall into this job? Cause it's especially 19 years ago, it's a very niche job. I, I started this job, I think 19, 20, 19, 20 years, 20 years ago. I should know that's how 20th anniversary for the facility. Mm-Hmm but when you were a child, what did you want to be?

Stefan Terjung (00:09:17):
? actually I think yeah, as a child, I, I do remember there was an open day at the police station and at that time there was the motorway police and they had a porsche and, and I fell in love and I thought, wow, I want to be waterway policeman driving around with this porsche. So yeah, that's what I, I remember.

Peter O'Toole (00:09:46):
I like, I, I like the idea of it. So what happened? how did you fall into science?

Stefan Terjung (00:09:52):
Well, actually sometime later, I mean, I don't think I would have become policemen and motorway police, but regarding the porsche. So my, my father was once invited to a company event and, and it was in a hotel in Austria or so. And he took my, my mother and me as well. And then one of the, of the employers of this company actually had a porsche. I liked so 9 v8 at that time. And I told my father, so he told him, and then he said, oh, let's just have a short ride with a nice car. And I mean, it failed for me, like sitting on the streets. I was not that tall yet, so I could barely watch across the wind screen. And then there was this car seven times going up to whatever height and I didn't like it. So after that I thought, okay, Porsche look nice. I like the design, but I was not so keen on driving them anymore. I didn't drive any myself

Peter O'Toole (00:11:06):
What car do you drive?

Stefan Terjung (00:11:09):
Oh, I have a ford, focus yeah, just a very simple yeah, that's a relatively low gas consumption. So not, not gas actually consumption.

Peter O'Toole (00:11:22):
Yeah. Yeah. So that's, we also have a Ford focus. So snap on that one. Yeah, my wife likes it cause the roof lifts back, which is quite nice. Not, it's not completely coupe it's just the glass back. So she's keen on that. Okay. So what got you into science?

Stefan Terjung (00:11:47):
Well I was in, in school, I was always interested. So my favorite subject was chemistry actually. And I also like biology quite a bit. Actually when I was a, a child, I also wanted to have a microscope and I, I got a very simple yeah, just transmitted light microscope, but there was actually a bit disappointed because it had only one Ocular lense yeah, I wanted to rather have pictures, but I didn't want to draw them. And I even tried to adapt my, my SLR camera to the, to the ocular, but only had this small in the center, because of course at that time, my physics was obviously not my best subject, so I didn't have appropriate optics in also. Yeah, but then the, the contrast was not so good on that microscope even though for, for hobby. It was actually already quite nice. Um but somehow I lost like track of that one. But yeah, I was, so my favorite was somehow chemistry, at least in school and yeah, but so I, I wanted to have it as a main subject, but there were not enough people in my, my yeah, in the class more or less. And then I did biology as a main subject in, in school and have chemistry as a science subject. And then when, cause I thought combination is nice. So I thought about studying biochemistry. But at that time it just started to be own subject. And most people told me, ah, I study chemistry, you will always get a job. It's, it's very secure, but don't do biology. You will not get a job. Biologists are all unemployed. That's what they told me. And I just started chemistry diploma and all the people who wanted to get a job didn't get any because that was the time where the suns chemistry accident and the line happened and, and told closed down of, of the chemistry more or less. And, and they had big problems, so they didn't hire anybody for a few years kinda. But yeah, I, I didn't like it so much. So I actually switched to biology, chemistry, but not diploma but rather [inaudible] college starts exams. So I could have become a high school teacher

Peter O'Toole (00:14:23):
That would've been a different career. And you sent me this picture

Stefan Terjung (00:14:27):
yeah, that's actually the microscope I was talking about, which I got as a child. But that's my son and here also at a certain time asked yeah. And microscopy and ah, is this one, can we have a look and we played a bit, well played or looked at some samples together. He came out to EMBL a few times, but I think it was a bit too early to really catch him. Yeah. And then, I dunno, at least he doesn't doesn't study physics or biology. So he does pharmaceutical sciences at the moment.

Peter O'Toole (00:15:07):
How old is he? Okay. Obviously a lot older than he is right here then

Stefan Terjung (00:15:11):
Yeah, exactly. He's turning 20 this year.

Peter O'Toole (00:15:15):
Okay. That's that's cool. And it's just, just the one child.

Stefan Terjung (00:15:20):
Yeah. Yeah. One

Peter O'Toole (00:15:24):
. So you nearly became a teacher. So that would been actually, would you compare part of your job? I would argue is teaching as well, or yeah, actually earlier days when you're probably more hands on than maybe you are now, there must been a lot of teaching involved and still with the courses, there must be a lot of teaching. Yeah,

Stefan Terjung (00:15:41):
Exactly. Because every introduction is more or less certain kind of, of teaching. Of course, as you said, we do courses so internally and also on international level and yeah, I'm still getting involved there even though it's, it's less and yeah. Also like it, that the colleagues also take over and yeah, I, I can relax in this aspects a bit. But yeah, I, I compare it to being a teacher in school and I think I like it more like it is now because especially in chemistry, most pupils in school are not that keen on learning chemistry. So that might be hard. But everybody coming to our courses is really keen on learning. So it's, it's more motivating, let's say, and it's only part of the job. So I, I think teacher is a principal, a nice job. I'm not so sure if it would be perfect for me. So I'm, I'm happy that I didn't become a teacher and, and I'm very happy with my job right now. But yeah, I'm transparent. It's, it's nice to be a teacher, but on the other hand, it's, it's also repetitive and, and quite hard because yeah, all the pupils being loud and that's not as bad with our classes most of the time, at least

Peter O'Toole (00:17:05):
, but I'm just thinking, thinking about conferences and how loud they can get, especially certainly some of them and actually sent me this. What, so this looks quite loud.

Stefan Terjung (00:17:17):
, that's not a class, that's actually from the ELMI in Dublin. And that was the social event with the, with the party afterwards. Actually on the ELMI meetings, I always like the atmosphere anyway. I mean scientifically, but, and, and somehow microscope is, are 99.9%. Very nice people in my opinion. So it's a really nice community, nice crowd. And yeah. At any meetings typically music starts, people start dancing. It's, it's unbelievable how nice the atmosphere then typically is. And that's of across the, the places that you can really yeah. Party on the one hand, but also get to know new people network. So I always enjoy it a lot.

Peter O'Toole (00:18:09):
Yeah. Work hard and play hard, but actually it is fairly so ELMI the European Light Microscopy Initiative has a meeting every year running into roughly its 22nd year. I think at the moment 20 around that number. I think we debate, we were talking about this earlier. I exactly Don't pin me on it. Maybe even 23. And, and Dublin was great fun, but actually it's one of the few conferences where actually people get up and start dancing very early on and carry on dancing until very late. And I, I, you get up and dance, we've danced together on that dance. But when you are out, would you normally dance

Stefan Terjung (00:18:52):
yeah, actually I, I do like it, but I don't do it as often as I maybe should. So sometimes we went out with the colleagues and then I do dance. Yes. also I do play volleyball with a very nice hobby team and we used to go out at least once a year yeah, just around Christmas. So to have a Christmas party. And then we also used to go out dancing afterwards. Didn't work out all the times, but, but yeah, most of the time, and then I nowadays do dance. I mean, maybe I don't want to be recorded, but I enjoy it. That's important.

Peter O'Toole (00:19:37):
I was going to say actually, so it's great. You said that you enjoy it because I think the vast majority of us, we, we are not reserved dancers at ELMI. There's quite a lot of full on movement. Maybe movement is a better term to use than dancing in a lot of cases on the floor, but it is great fun and it is a great atmosphere, but ELMI's fairly unique to not only does he have a great social side to it, which is what really forms the networks enables people to talk more freely. I, I, one of my best grant proposals came on the back of one of these nights at ELMI. And cuz you just enter less inhibited conversations about science and you can put new ideas out there and find the right people to work with. But it also has, you know, we were talking about someone earlier before, before today, before this podcast about people going to the dark side. So going out of academia and into industry, and of course ELMI embraces this quite nicely and also sent through nice picture, by the way is of the, or you, you describe it Stefan, maybe that's easier.

Stefan Terjung (00:20:43):
Yeah, actually exactly. This is a bit of a tradition at, at recent ELMI meetings. I think it started at the last ELMI meeting in Barcelona. So we have football match between companies and, and academia. So on that blue is other company people and red are the academics academy people and yeah, I think both of us are on there so, well at least I'm standing in the way somebody tries to take.

Peter O'Toole (00:21:20):
Yeah, no, we are both definitely there as is yeah. Plenty of other well known faces I think. But I think it's a really welcome addition actually, cuz it does bring down those barriers because you know, we, we joke going on the dark side, they're very much equally part of our community aren't they actually, without the people selling in industry, we have nothing to buy without the people in industry commercializing the development and developing their own products for us to use. There's nothing. So actually we're kind of the two sides of the same coin in many respects it's just, the way we get paid is, is different. I I guess, but so a lot, most of them will have PhDs. Most of them will have been researchers at some point and just decide to apply it to have benefit in a different way. And I think these football matches are just a really nice way to build the bridges, to make it more, Do you ever feel there's a wall between academics and commercial companies in approach approaching them. Or do you find it completely uninhibited just walk up and talk to someone who's trying to sell you something or potentially might be trying to sell something.

Stefan Terjung (00:22:31):
So I didn't completely get your question. So it's, if there's like sometimes the wall between companies.

Peter O'Toole (00:22:39):
Well, I, I certainly feel sometimes if there's an exhibition, I don't want go up and look at every stand cause I don't want to engage with someone who I don't know that well and I just worry, they're gonna try and sell something, which is such the wrong feeling to have. So I dunno what your feeling is around that.

Stefan Terjung (00:22:58):
Yeah. Well, I typically prefer to get a bit of an idea. Well, I mean, if they have like really good the equipment at the booth, then it's definitely more attractive than, than if they just have like brochures and, and try to sell something on the other end. Typically I, I try to really be yeah. Connective and, and open to, to companies because so in the facility we mainly have commercial or nearly commercial equipment. So we also depend on the companies if they don't have good equipment well we cannot offer good service obviously. Yeah. Or we would have to change to build it ourselves. But yeah, that would mean much more stuff. Effort of course.

Peter O'Toole (00:23:46):
No, absolutely. Right. They are essential to us and, and, and I think ELMI, cuz it obviously has the workshops as well, which makes it very interactive and engaging. And they're teaching us at that point. So again, they suddenly become teachers certainly in, I think with the workshops and you of course are very instrumental in ELMI. So you make sure it happens every year so you are kind of the person who is now behind most of the operations and just keeping an eye on it. You're gonna be too modest to accept that aren't you?

Stefan Terjung (00:24:28):
Yeah. Most likely, too honest, too modest. I should be honest. I mean, I don't do that much. It's like, okay. I, I know a lot of the ELMI meetings and, and help and the local organizers, I'm also typically trying to get the steering committee meeting, running and invite the people keeping track of the members and so on. Yeah, but in the end it's it's of course the local organizers who get chosen by the steering committee to, to run it. Of course I, I, yeah, can give them some feedback from last meetings or bring them in contact with their organizers, from the last meetings that they know how to do it. But I don't think I do that much. Peter.

Peter O'Toole (00:25:18):
I take to, I I've ran a couple of ELMI meetings and I know there's not been one that I haven't had to float to question past you for your advice, you know? And I think that says a lot, you're the glue that keeps it going. And actually you say getting that, steer making sure the steering committee happens, it's very bizarrely informal set up. Me. Yes but it works, but it needs to always be driving it, you know? And it's your newsletters that you put out regularly putting the steering group together. So actually I think you do, you may not have kickstarted it, you know, may was that yeah,

Stefan Terjung (00:25:54):
Definitely not. Yeah, because at the beginning I was not involved yet.

Peter O'Toole (00:25:59):
But certainly now I think you are, you are the glue that you're the go-to person to, to ask any advice, any questions and you'll always direct people in the right. So, so your influence again, going back to that imposter syndrome at the start, your, your teaching, not just people at EMBL, which is one the leading or the leading molecular biology labs in Europe, you are also teaching on an international level and inspiring people to go on, to improve their science and even become better and even dedicated microscopists going forward. You've got your influence with ELMI and making sure it happens. And that without question has inspired many people to go on to have successful careers when in their PhDs in early postdoc days, they may not know where they're going, but the army meeting shows there are different pathways, different roots, and a lot of excitement in science. So I see not such, not such an imposter

Stefan Terjung (00:27:00):
Thanks A lot, Peter,

Peter O'Toole (00:27:02):
Take the I'm going take the embarrassed. I'll I'll, you're two modest to accept a lot of that, but it is true. What was, so I, I know what your first microscope was, cuz I've seen it. What is your favorite microscopy technique?

Stefan Terjung (00:27:15):
Ooh, this is a difficult question. I have to say.

Peter O'Toole (00:27:25):
A tough one, isn't it?

Stefan Terjung (00:27:28):
Yeah, because it really depends on, on, on what you want to do. So for the one thing it's, it's maybe lightsheet, if you want to image embryo or with low flow toxicity of a long period and also relatively fast. But, but then if you want to multi and get more details, then, then you go for super resolution. It's it's really, I, I cannot choose any technique,

Peter O'Toole (00:28:00):
See for me, FRAPP nice and easy Flourescence Recovery After, Patterened Photobleaching, just, I find it's still amazing how fast particles move in biology.

Stefan Terjung (00:28:12):
Okay. That's that's true. But yeah, I mean, I, I did a bit of FRAPP as well, but yeah. I mean, if you want to know about diffusion speeds or maybe binding coefficients, of course. It's, it's a very nice technique.

Peter O'Toole (00:28:29):

Stefan Terjung (00:28:30):
But it's very to this.

Peter O'Toole (00:28:32):
Yeah. It's just the images it's just watching biology it's in equilibrium and then you see it moving and it's just, yeah. It's mine for me. Absolutely brilliant moving onwards. When has been probably the most challenging time in your career to date, I'm not saying you're gonna get more challenging times. That sounds wrong, but of what's been the most challenging time you've had in your career. Maybe that's a more positive way to word it.

Stefan Terjung (00:29:00):
Yeah, let me think. So. I mean, one time it was at least time demanding a lot was the time when I still did my PhD. So I, I did my PhD at the University of Heidelberg at that time at the botanical Institute. And now it's belonging to the center of organisms studies, I think. And actually I was visitor at, at the ALMF before I started as staff member. And then at that time Timo Zimmerman and Jens Rietdorf convinced me Stephan, please start with us. We need to,ua member in the team. And I said, yeah, I would like to, but uh still have this PhD to finish. And then finally we agreed, I start 50% at the ALMF. Umnd then finish my, my PhD in, in the rest of the year. So basically three quarter of the year. Umnd in the end, of course I did work a bit more than the 50% at, at ALMF and still had to somehow finish my PhD yeah working daytime at EMBL. And then when I came home, u,ah. Started to write thesis and sometimes I went to bed three o'clock and that was the time when my son woke up again. Cause at that time he was like six months, u,bit older. Um, yeah, that was, well, I, it took a long time. Let's say it. I didn't find it that stressful because I liked all of that. And for me, the good thing was I, I needed to really finish the PhD. It was clear. Okay, that's the time you have to do it now. And, and that helped me to also finish. I, I think I would have taken longer maybe what, this kind of pressure.

Peter O'Toole (00:30:58):
So I have a, a reflection question really? So your son was three months old. You're balancing two jobs, essentially working all day, working all through the night. Do you feel as though you just, for that intense period, that short, intense period, did you, did you miss out on not seeing your son as much as maybe you'd like to have done?

Stefan Terjung (00:31:24):
So if I missed, I didn't completely get,

Peter O'Toole (00:31:28):
Do, do you feel as though maybe you put a lot of effort into work and maybe didn't see as much of your son when he was at that very young age that you would've like? Oh,

Stefan Terjung (00:31:35):
Okay. I mean, I, I try to actually be there as much as possible. And I mean the advantage of course, of, of finishing the PhD is also, I mean, you are a bit flexible, so I, I try to work when he was in bed obviously. And that's why it was also partially late. No, but I don't think it was such a big problem. So that part and yeah, I mean, it was not every day like that, obviously, because some days I didn't go to EMBL and then I could really work completely. And I mean, I did also do Confocal experiments with my, my plans, at EMBL Like, I mean, it was a bit synergistic as well, so yeah, I mean, it was not that bad, but at least it was more than 40 hours working time per week in that time at least yeah

Peter O'Toole (00:32:34):
And so you also mentioned the fact that it was Timo and Jens that were encouraging you to, to take this job at the ALMF. And actually I went on a course in 2001 and that was taught by Timo in Jens and that was very influential in my own career. And Timo, I believe has rejoined EMBL and runs a facility of a kind at EMBL. What's the difference between what he's running and what you are running.

Stefan Terjung (00:33:01):
Yeah. So, I mean, you have another potential interview partner there, I would guess. yeah, so he is a team leader now at the imaging center, which was just established at, at EMBL. And I mean there, the ideas basically as I mentioned, we have mainly commercial light microscopes, but there's typically quite some time between yeah. Developing a new system, like let's say a new step by Stephan [inaudible] or min flux, for example, and then commercialization. Okay. That was maybe a bad example because min flux is already commercialized to a certain extent. But yeah, the ideas basically that, that systems, which are not yet commercially available gets yeah. Already streamline that they are easier to use and then made available to the visitors and also internal and the people and principal. And that means of course different ratio of stuff to, to instruments. So, I mean, we have like five people per in instruments per stuff while there's rather one to one or even two staff members per, per instrument, or so, dependent on how, how it's done and so on

Peter O'Toole (00:34:27):
Because of the complexity of the instrument and how to apply the sample to event. And I guess even keeping the instrument running aligned abd so forth.

Stefan Terjung (00:34:37):
Yeah, exactly. So yeah, in Timo's team, there are, there are optical, not designers, engineers who can really build the microscope and, and team up also potentially with the people in house. So for example, Jonas Reis group built single molecule, super resolution microscope. And as far as I got the also moved this over to the imaging center I hope I got it right list, or you have to ask Timo more about that. But then of course the, the optical engineer can do it, but still ask the people who did it originally in the best case. And then there's also application scientists, like maybe let's say me who can really help running the instrument. And yeah, the imaging center is more focused to visitors than, than we. So for us it's more if multiple EMBL groups need a certain light microscopy equipment then we would try to, to integrate it in the facility. Um but, and if they have it, they are open for visitors. So visitors can come then and, and use it, get with our support obviously. But the imaging center is yeah, more, even more targeting to outside visitors, but at the same time open to internal users. But as far as I got it, the internal users have to apply on the same route. So it's more difficult to, to get that right. I mean, here, it's just like, if you need it, it's, it's there, you can use it. And in the imaging center will be a bit more complicated for the internal ones, but still working would be if they couldn't use it at all,

Peter O'Toole (00:36:38):
I look forward to seeing it. I asked you what your most challenging difficult times were, what what's been the most fun time of your career,

Stefan Terjung (00:36:51):
All the meetings yeah, also sometimes when we go out with the, with the team I mean, yeah, for example, Julie was, was leaving to Beon and then we had a Halloween party in a Russian discothèque. That was also fun event. It was close to sending you pictures from that. Yeah, but there's, there's a lot of fun things. So I mean Rainer once said actually working is like holidays and I, I know what he means. It's, it's very similar to early days, most of the time there's exceptions. Yeah, but most of the time I really enjoy the job. So, you know, a lot of events, which I really like.

Peter O'Toole (00:37:45):
So that comes to the question when you retire, what would you like to do?

Stefan Terjung (00:37:50):

Peter O'Toole (00:37:52):
, that's a long way off if anyone's actually listening to this Stefan is not old, just as quickly say I've asked what you wanted to be as a child, what you are now, what would you want to be in the future?

Stefan Terjung (00:38:05):
Well, yeah, it's still a few years to go. And I don't feel old , but okay. Sometimes I start feeling older. If I see the PhD students here at EMBL starting but yeah I didn't think so much about it yet. So what my wife and I, like a lot is in general being at the sea and I mean, sometimes we said, Hmm, maybe small house at the coast somewhere. So that could be something at least for the summer period or so, but yeah, it's more one idea.

Peter O'Toole (00:38:45):
Does that explain these pictures that you sent?

Stefan Terjung (00:38:48):
Yeah. That, that fits a bit to this picture. Yeah. So I like snorkeling in general, so that was, I think at holidays on yeah, very nice there. I, I had to do a lot of image processing on that one, so I did have a nice underwater case of a dig for digital camera actually. Yeah. So it was not the best ever, but okay. It took a few nice pictures, but I had to, take much more to get few nice ones but yeah, that's something I could imagine doing when I'm retired, at least at the beginning, not when I'm too old,

Peter O'Toole (00:39:33):
This a similar picture. So another set, this certainly looks underwater to me.

Stefan Terjung (00:39:37):
Yeah, exactly. So I left, so at left from my view left from your head is now the octopus in the center. And that's one of my favorite animals in general. I mean, zebra octopus and I was really happy that I saw this and he managed to take more or less nice picture, even though it's hard to see it, but they're really master of disguise. So yeah, I, I really like these animals, so I, I kind of nearly stopped eating octopus and, and Viv and so on in, in the canteen, not completely, but most of the time, because I like them so much.

Peter O'Toole (00:40:23):
So thinking of food then what's your, what is your favorite food?

Stefan Terjung (00:40:32):
Well, I, I like a lot of food. One thing I really like is Kaiserchmarrn,

Peter O'Toole (00:40:40):
Which is,

Stefan Terjung (00:40:42):
Yeah, that's Austrian pancake, like, but thicker and it's also with almonds or nuts and sweet. And then yeah, you either have some and, and it's also very fluffy. So you have like the egg white in them which makes them quite quite fluffy and yeah, I like it with vanilla sauce, but it's more typical with either. Apple, So if you cook the apple, yeah. Or yeah, plum or something like that.

Peter O'Toole (00:41:21):
Okay. And what is your least favorite food you were to go to? Okay. So if we were to organize an ELMI, you were to be taken out and you've got set dinner and they put said, what is your nightmare dish to have in front of you?

Stefan Terjung (00:41:34):
yeah. So I'm, I'm relatively flexible. I mean, yeah, it depends. So sometimes like buying, so what is it? Snails are not really my favorite I'm. I mean, I'm not vegetarian, but I also don't really like, like big steaks also. So a small piece of meat is okay. Even though I try to avoid it well for the environment and I, I just don't like it so much most of the time, but yeah, like big Rump steak, especially if it's rare in the center, that's something I'm not too keen on.

Peter O'Toole (00:42:22):
Okay. We'll make sure that's off the menu when we go to the next conference. Okay. So tea or coffee, watch your.

Stefan Terjung (00:42:29):

Peter O'Toole (00:42:30):
Coffee, wine, or beer.

Stefan Terjung (00:42:35):
Both. And I think it depends a bit on, on the environment, so, yeah, but it's then in some cases I prefer the beer and sometimes the wine it's not so beer,

Peter O'Toole (00:42:46):
Chocolate or cheese,

Stefan Terjung (00:42:49):
So both , but not at the same time, first cheese and then the chocolate as a dessert.

Peter O'Toole (00:42:56):
Okay. So this is, you are gonna say both sweet or savory.

Stefan Terjung (00:43:05):
Well, more savory, I would say.

Peter O'Toole (00:43:07):
Okay. Would you say you are a Maxamist or a minimalist type person? Like lots of stuff or very basic little stuff.

Stefan Terjung (00:43:18):

Peter O'Toole (00:43:20):
Maybe it's easy to ask you. Are you a tidy? You're a messy person. I think that often reflects.

Stefan Terjung (00:43:25):
Okay. there have to say I'm more messy. I, and then what am I Maxamist or minimalist, if

Peter O'Toole (00:43:36):
If your messy I'd go maxamist, cuz you just got lots of stuff at that point.

Stefan Terjung (00:43:40):

Peter O'Toole (00:43:41):
How can a minimalist ever be messy? Cause they've got no stuff to get messy have they.

Stefan Terjung (00:43:45):
That's that's a good point. Yeah. Yeah. Then

Peter O'Toole (00:43:57):
There you go PC Or MAC

Stefan Terjung (00:44:06):

Peter O'Toole (00:44:07):
Mcdonald's or burger king?

Stefan Terjung (00:44:10):
None of them.

Peter O'Toole (00:44:11):
What is your favorite takeaway then?

Stefan Terjung (00:44:16):
Well in Heidelberg we have Dean and David. I don't know if that's a larger as I don't think it's that larger. I think it's only in Germany, but what they do is they have really fresh salads and, and wraps and, and they also do curry's. So I like this quite a lot. Also because they, I mean it's fresh, but they also have yeah. Different combinations, which you wouldn't maybe do on your own or it's a new taste, so

Peter O'Toole (00:44:50):
Okay. TV or book

Stefan Terjung (00:44:54):
I'm trying to read more because in principle I like it, but I end up sitting in front of the TV more often than I would like to. I have to admit.

Peter O'Toole (00:45:06):
And what is your TV vice? What is your, you know, so you've got admit to what you don't want to admit to watching

Stefan Terjung (00:45:13):
let me think. So. Yeah. So in, in the past, what I watched together with my wife was sex in the city and desperate housewife. Does this count

Peter O'Toole (00:45:29):
Yeah. No, that definitely can't. But I like the way you blamed it on your wife saying I watched it with my wife. So you didn't say you watched it by yourself. I watched it. You blamed it on someone else and you just coerced into it.

Stefan Terjung (00:45:39):
Yeah. I mean, that was like, we could find a common denominator demo list. So we yeah. Both liked it enough to, to watch it and yeah. Could, I mean, it wasn't diverse to watch. I have to.

Peter O'Toole (00:45:54):
What's your favorite film?

Stefan Terjung (00:45:58):
Favorite film? Hmm. Actually in the past, due to the pandemic, I haven't been too much in the cinema, but yeah, one I liked was actually Hidden Figures. I think that was even before the pandemic. So that one, I liked quite a bit. Forrest Gump is also definitely on the list and I would say a Fish called Wanda also one. I like, even though I didn't see it for a long time, maybe I would change my mind now.

Peter O'Toole (00:46:33):
Yeah, no is a long time ago. I, I can't remember the whole film.

Stefan Terjung (00:46:38):
Yeah, exactly. That's the problem. So I do remember I liked it a lot and I watched it at least two or three times. Yeah. But I, I couldn't say really what happens in, in it. But okay. If I would see it, I would remember, I guess, yeah.

Peter O'Toole (00:46:56):
Okay. Star wars or star Trek,

Stefan Terjung (00:47:00):
More star wars, I would say.

Peter O'Toole (00:47:02):
Okay. And I actually what have, I, I should have asked this for everyone. What's your favorite Christmas film?

Stefan Terjung (00:47:12):
I'm I'm not so, I mean, that means the film containing something about Christmas or being shown

Peter O'Toole (00:47:21):
Christmas time. Yeah. Although you would watch over Christmas.

Stefan Terjung (00:47:26):
I mean, I don't, he typically, I mean, what we did the last years is invite the whole family. So my parents, my parents-in-law, the family of my brother is not time watching TV at that time. And so it's, I don't remember any Christmas movies. I have to say

Peter O'Toole (00:47:46):
It, it, it sounds like you have your own national lampoons Christmas vacation every year. If you're bringing all the relatives from both sides together, that sounds very brave actually does it work well?

Stefan Terjung (00:47:59):
Yeah, it's exhausting, but it's so nice, but yeah, it shouldn't be too long.

Peter O'Toole (00:48:07):
So what do you think back back to microscopy is going to be the next big thing in microscopy?

Stefan Terjung (00:48:15):
Cool. Yeah. That's a difficult question. I think I mean, microscopy is, is developing so fast and, and very often areas, I, I don't really expect it so much. So just for example, to the building, we are in, it was finished 2010 and just before there were, of course the first single molecule, super resolution papers out like, like time, for example. And when we were planning, we thought, well, there's these techniques, but until this comes into a core facility, we'll take ages. So we don't need to really prepare for that. and yeah, we did regret it because we did have one like two or three years afterwards. I think , I mean, it still works, but yeah, would've been nice to predict it. I don't know. I mean, it's faster, more sensitive maybe also combining so doing clay more efficient also

Peter O'Toole (00:49:29):
Yeah, from light microscopy side maybe more colors.

Stefan Terjung (00:49:33):
Yeah. More colors would be nice. I agree. So we using now more size seven, for example because then you can use more colors already.

Peter O'Toole (00:49:46):
It's interesting. Isn't it? If you ask anyone, we all say more sensitive, faster, you know, getting that sensitivity, speed and resolution, but if we can look at more colors, you can, you can find out more about what's really going on at the sample level.

Stefan Terjung (00:50:02):
Yeah. Especially if you could really lable the interesting proteins easily with the, with the color. So if it would be a more narrow emission event and, and you could set it even easier that that would be something to, to go for. But obviously it's not so easy. No. Yeah. But a bit, bit cautious about predicting something like that because yeah. I do remember one company ages ago promoted a new microscope before they even launched it. And I really had to feeling my goodness, what are we doing with all our old microscopes? Because only this new one, maybe the one everybody wants to use, obviously it didn't happen because we still have also the other types and so on. Yeah, in the end it really depends on applications and, and how well it fits. So it's hard to really predict and we typically try to be open and see what the users really need. So if I have a good idea, it it's nice, but it doesn't mean that everybody wants to use something like that. And I couldn't build it myself.

Peter O'Toole (00:51:13):
No, I, I you're absolutely right. It's it is impossible to predict and there's so, sounds odd, but microscopy is developing on so many fronts and helping solve so many different biological questions that it, it, it, we are really lucky to be in the field over this period where it's grown and grown significantly. I don't think I envisaged that when I started my role

Stefan Terjung (00:51:42):
Now. I completely agree. Yeah, exactly. I mean, when I started then yeah, the, the green fluorescent and proteins were coming and really gave light microscopy boost. And then there was some time I thought, okay. I mean, now we are on a plateau. There's not so much happening, but okay. Light sheet, super resolution techniques, faster, more sensitive, more correlative work.

Peter O'Toole (00:52:11):
Yeah. There's still a long way to go. There's certainly still a long way to go. You sent me some more pictures. I, I, I didn't ask what they were. So this one looks like a lot of people in a lab. I love.

Stefan Terjung (00:52:23):
Yeah, that was . I wanted to say before Corona, but, so that was actually a trend in microscopy 2020. And it ended on Friday and on Saturday, the German lockdown started and yeah, it was organized by German, Bioimaging. And then I was also involved in, in the planning and the committee there, and I think Saturday or Sunday, before it started, we also had a, a take to the discuss, should we cancel it or not? Because yeah. Corona kind of started also in Germany and yeah, we really discussed a lot and thought, well, still officially allowed. And if we cancel, it would be really hard for the, for the society. And now I'm lucky that they did it, but it was a bit of, of risk. I have to admit

Peter O'Toole (00:53:24):
What science used to look like, see this, this picture will go down in the archives. This is what the world used to be like.

Stefan Terjung (00:53:32):
Exactly. And yeah, so, I mean, it's, it's as spring school. So we had multiple instruments supported by, by lots of companies. And then workshops yeah. Bit like ELMI but, and, and they're actually also more inspired by the in, in France actually. Uso they they're bigger, but that was the first trends in microscopy like that. So we first,uwere hoping we can redo it this year, but,ufinally we postponed to next year because in March it was still a bit too risky, even though officially it would've been allowed, but,uyeah, you need to also get the application soon enough and people still have to come and like to come. So, and the, we decided to postpone

Peter O'Toole (00:54:22):
So many people in lab coats that that's, that's a rare site sometimes in, for biology. Anyway, not for chemistry so much. You also sent me this picture, which well, where are you?

Stefan Terjung (00:54:37):
Yeah, that was our last big holidays before Corona, more less. So that was May, 2019, I think. And we went to New York and okay. The hotel is, was in New Jersey and that was the view we had at, at breakfast. So during the, the pandemic, I very often thought back off this holidays and, and thought how nice that we did it 2019 and didn't plan it for 2020. And yeah, it was really nice holidays with a nice start by breakfast with this view,

Peter O'Toole (00:55:18):
Did you get just, is you, do you get to travel much?

Stefan Terjung (00:55:24):
Well, I mean, I, I try to not fly too much. So privately we don't fly a lot, I would say. And yeah, I mean, work wise before Corona, I, I try to fly maybe one or two times per year, but if possible, even avoid it. So if, if possible, I'd rather take the train and privately, I mean, for holidays, we very often take the car and go to Brittany in France. Maybe Italy be Netherland. Because I think in Europe, there's so many nice places to go and while we have a dog and we typically like to take her . Yeah, exactly. So that's the painting of our dog, Sheila about and yeah, that's why we typically don't fly on holidays. I mean, because yeah, then it's this dog either you have to leave it behind or it's too difficult.

Peter O'Toole (00:56:31):
So, so that's one of your, your other passions is your pet as well. And you, you also sent Yeah. One.

Stefan Terjung (00:56:38):
Yeah, actually, maybe I, I can add something to the picture from before because actually it's from a painting. My wife did because she actually started to be a, a painter, so she's painting on order basically. So and yeah, I, I really like her style. Yeah. And I thought I take a picture of our dog as a nice example.

Peter O'Toole (00:57:05):
So your wife's go is obviously very talented. Artist a, so if you're listening to this, it's worth watching and getting into the 55th minute or whatever it is on, on, on the recording, cuz the picture is stunning. It really is. So what does she do? Is that her job now? Or

Stefan Terjung (00:57:22):
Yeah, it's, it's, it's her job indeed. Yeah.

Peter O'Toole (00:57:25):
And so she draws mostly animals that she draws.

Stefan Terjung (00:57:29):
Yeah. She focuses on animals. And then yeah, usually it's dogs or horses could be cats also, but, but most of the time it's dogs or, or horses actually.

Peter O'Toole (00:57:42):
Wow. I'm very yeah.

Stefan Terjung (00:57:45):
Yeah. And that's something I, I couldn't do. I'm always impressed and, and yeah, it's, it's, it's really nice how she catches the, the, yeah. How the animal is more or less in, in her own style

Peter O'Toole (00:58:01):
It's so vivid as well and that the light, the brightness of it as well. So it's, it's real, but it's got a lightness with draws you to the image as well, which is, yeah, I I'm no artist myself. Wow. This tree makes it look like I've got a really funky hairdo.

Stefan Terjung (00:58:15):
It's a good style, Pete, you could keep it.

Speaker 2 (00:58:18):
Okay. Least at least if I had that as a hairstyle, I'd have some hair, which would be an advantage go. So Stefan, where is this picture?

Stefan Terjung (00:58:25):
Yeah, that's more or less the artistry I sometimes do. So I like taking pictures in [inaudible]. but that actually was when I was running. so that's between DOSIM and I, on the way I, I run frequently and yeah, it was really very nice lightning condition. So because the, the light came from the back, but yeah, you see, there was kind of thunderstorm before and yeah, this is actually one tree, at least one stem, but somehow the right part has yeah, maybe it's two trees is grown

Peter O'Toole (00:59:05):
Roughly together

Stefan Terjung (00:59:07):
And, and yeah. Somehow I fell in love with this one. So I have lots of pictures of this one. could hold a calendar, but this one, I like a lot because the light is more nice there. And then, yeah. So this contrast between flowers and, and leaves, I, I like a lot.

Peter O'Toole (00:59:27):
So is that just on your camera phone or do you actually take, How often do you get, how often are you getting out? Running at the moment?

Stefan Terjung (00:59:38):
Yeah, I'm trying three times a week. But recently, sometimes it was one or two times only. Yeah, either because I didn't have so much time or I thought I'm potentially getting sick also, which I didn't, but yeah, with corona I'm a bit more by potentially corona let's say I'm a bit more yeah. Reluctant to overdo it. Let's say like that.

Peter O'Toole (01:00:10):
Oh, you you're more sensible than I am. Yeah. I think if I thought I was coming down with it, I'd try and get a long run just to get bank the miles before we get to, but then I'd probably be more ill, which is a really silly thing to do. Yeah. I have a cover cuz we are actually coming up to the hour. So I have a couple of other, very quick questions. Do you have any bad habits?

Stefan Terjung (01:00:38):
Bad habits. I mentioned being messy.

Peter O'Toole (01:00:43):
Yeah. You can't say that. Cuz you, you had to, you even thought if you were messy or not, so you gotta have more bad habits than that.

Stefan Terjung (01:00:50):
Whew. I, I guess I have bad habits maybe should ask my wife

Peter O'Toole (01:00:56):

Peter O'Toole (01:00:59):
Do a quick text. well, what's my bad habits. Ah, so you're just too modest. That's why your bad you're just too modest. that's that's not really a bad habit. It's

Stefan Terjung (01:01:10):
Just a bad habit. Yeah. Then, then I'm guilty.

Peter O'Toole (01:01:14):
Okay. And what about your pet hates? Is there something you really dis you know, someone's doing something called, what is one of your pet hates?

Stefan Terjung (01:01:23):
So, so that means not hating pets, but

Peter O'Toole (01:01:27):
No something, something that you something that annoys you.

Stefan Terjung (01:01:31):
Ah, okay. Who, let me think. Mm. I mean, one thing I really don't like is if smokers throw their, the, the rest of the cigarette just on the ground in nature. So, so that's something I, I don't like at all.

Peter O'Toole (01:01:49):
That's a very good. Have you ever confronted, have you ever confronted someone who's done it

Stefan Terjung (01:01:58):
Actually, most likely not because in the past it, I didn't realize that it's as bad as it is because I also thought long time ago. Yeah. I just rot and it's no problem, but now I know it, it stays there for, for ages it's even toxic. And yeah. So don't see people doing it that often, or it's like somebody throwing it out of the car window. Yeah. And then I cannot really confront the person because they, they just drive away. Yeah. But that's definitely bad habit throwing the cigarette out of the car window, even though you have the ashtray the car, I think problem.

Peter O'Toole (01:02:43):
Wow. Well, that was a good answer. Anyways, Stefan, we are up to the hour. Mark Time really does go very fast. You, so for joining me today you know, I, and just keep up the good work. You know, you inspired lots, you're still inspiring people keep going with it. And actually for all those who watched or listened today, you know, it is one of the rock stars of microscopy that really does match up with the other rock stars for different reasons. And I don't think those reasons should be overlooked. So Stefan, you're a rockstar. Thank you very much.

Stefan Terjung (01:03:24):
Thanks a lot, Peter. It was really a pleasure to talk to you enjoyed it, but I think you are also rockstar, shooting star

Peter O'Toole (01:03:35):
oh my goodness. That looks like I've it's I look like humm blaming Bambi there jumping before, but I think I did score didn't I'm sure I scored. Was this a penalty? Not very scored. Yeah. If, if it was a penalty to shoot out anyway so yeah,

Stefan Terjung (01:03:50):
I, I don't remember if that was a penalty shoot out, but it could be, sometimes it ended like that. if pleasure to talk to you or is a lot of, and looking forward to see your latest in June at the ELMI meeting,

Peter O'Toole (01:04:04):
I hope. Yeah. For, are you, are you gonna play the football match?

Stefan Terjung (01:04:09):
I mean, if I'm as fit as I'm now I would try and, and I think there is a football next plan. So I would be in

Peter O'Toole (01:04:16):

Stefan Terjung (01:04:18):
I hope you too. Otherwise be very hard for us

Peter O'Toole (01:04:23):
Again, everyone. Thanks for watching. Listening. Please do go watch the other podcast that are out there, and don't forget to subscribe to your baby channel. Stefan, see you soon.

Stefan Terjung (01:04:33):
See you soon

Intro/Outro (01:04:35):
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

Stefan Terjung (EMBL)