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ETH Zurich announces 2024 NOMIS–ETH Fellows

ETH Zurich has announced the three postdoctoral fellows who will join the Centre for Origin and Prevalence of Life (COPL) at ETH as part of the NOMIS–ETH Fellowship Program. David Schnettler, Taylor Priest and Sean Jordan will begin their NOMIS Fellowships between July and September this year. The ETH announcement follows.

2024 Cohort of the NOMIS-ETH Fellows

We are very pleased to announce the 2024 Cohort of the NOMIS-​ETH Fellows. Between July and September three postdoctoral fellows will join the COPL thanks to the generous support that we receive from the NOMIS Foundation.

A very warm welcome to David Schnettler, Taylor Priest and Sean Jordan. All three are excited to start their activities and are grateful for the support that they receive from the NOMIS Foundation via the Fellowship Programme.

David Schnettler

David Schnettler is a (bio)chemist turned protein enthusiast. After studies at the University of Constance (Germany) and Ecole Normale Supériere (France), he specialized on enzyme mechanisms and evolution during his PhD at the University of Cambridge (UK) where he used droplet microfluidics to evolve enzymes with new functions. His doctoral and post-​doctoral research has been centred around how proteins evolve to acquire new functions and how this process can be steered to discover new biocatalysts. Now, he will apply the tools of protein engineering to questions at the origin of life and aims to experimentally recapitulate the prebiotic emergence of a minimalist ‘proto-​polymerase’.

Dr. David Schnettler will conduct his research in the Department of Biosystems Science and Engineering (D-​BSSE) in the Bioprocess Laboratory led by Prof. Sven Panke. He is grateful for this unique opportunity made possible by the NOMIS-​ETH Fellowship Programme and is excited about joining ETH’s Centre for Origin and Prevalence of Life to contribute to its mission.

Taylor Priest

Taylor Priest is a microbiologist and microbial ecologist who is passionate about understanding the ecological and evolutionary processes that have shape microbial life on Earth. During his PhD at the Max Planck Institute for Marine Microbiology in Bremen, Germany, he studied the diversity and function of microorganisms in polar ocean ecosystems and how they have adapted to such pronounced environmental conditions. More recently, Dr. Taylor Priest joined the Microbiome Lab at ETH Zürich, where he has been focused on researching the mechanisms that drive diversification in microorganisms, to better understand how evolution progresses. Now, Dr. Taylor Priest aims to investigate evolution from a different perspective: that of mobile genetic elements.

Dr. Taylor Priest’s research will combine DNA sequence data and innovative computational approaches with field sampling and experimental analyses to explore mobile genetic elements across Earth’s diverse biomes. Under the mentorship of Assoc. Prof. Dr. Shinichi Sunagawa and Asst. Prof. Dr. Marie Schoelmerich at ETH Zürich, he aims to unravel the diversity of these elements, decipher the genetic material they shuttle across environments, and discern their evolutionary trajectories and influence on the evolution of microbial life forms.

Sean Jordan

Sean Jordan is a planetary scientist and astrophysicist, originally from Manchester, UK, and more recently based at the Institute of Astronomy in Cambridge. He is interested in how we can apply our models of the planetary processes that we can study in detail in the Solar System, to help us interpret observations of exoplanets in orbit around distant stars.

Sean studied Natural Sciences at the University of Cambridge specialising in Astrophysics, and continued there to embark on his PhD. During this time, he has examined a range of multidisciplinary problems including the prospect of extremophilic life in the cloud droplets of Venus, the discovery of photochemical sulfur-​dioxide on the gas-​giant exoplanet WASP-​39b, and how a molten planetary interior could be shaping the observed atmosphere of elusive sub-​Neptune exoplanet K2-​18b. In his current research, Sean is investigating how we can use observations of atmospheric sulfur-​dioxide to learn about the climate and surface conditions of rocky worlds orbiting small M-​dwarf stars.

Dr. Sean Jordan will carry out this research under the mentorship of Prof. Sascha Quanz, who leads the Exoplanets and Habitability group in the Institute for Particle and Astrophysics. Sean is grateful for the exciting opportunity made possible by the NOMIS Foundation.

Read the full ETH Zurich announcement: 2024 Cohort of the NOMIS-ETH Fellows


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