Meet the members of the digital life excellence program

left to right: Marta Irla; Jenny Ostrop; Krishna Agarwal; Nello Blaser; Jennifer Hazen; Boukje Ehlen (grant consultant); Raffael Himmelsbach (program coordinator).

​Digital Life Norway aspires to advancing research in biotechnology that harnesses the powers of digitization and mathematical modeling. To succeed, different academic disciplines that study life processes need to converge. Supporting the careers of future research leaders is critical for the realization of this vision. And this is why the Digital Life Excellence program exists.

The program currently supports five especially promising young researchers in the Digital Life Norway Research School over a two-year period on their journey toward establishing their own research groups. An important element of the program is international mentoring. With the support of the programme, each participant will choose an international mentor. In addition, the excellence programme offers career development activities and guidance in order to contribute to the best possible professional development and merit for the participating young researchers.

On September 10–11 the program’s five members met at NTNU in Trondheim for a two day workshop on developing research networks and grant writing. This is now an opportunity to introduce them.

Jennifer Hazen is an experimental neuroscientist at the University of Oslo. She is a postdoctoral researcher in the laboratory of Dr. Marianne Fyhn within the Centre for Integrative Neural Plasticity (CINPLA), which aims to join experimental, computational and theoretical approaches to understand the brain.  Jen has formal training and extensive experience in biochemistry, molecular biology, stem cell biology, and genomics and aims to use these techniques, in collaboration with computational neuroscientists, to understand how the brain encodes and stores information, and it how draws upon this information to direct vital functions, such as defensive responses to predators. 

Jenny Ostrop is a postdoc at the Centre of Molecular Inflammation Research (CEMIR) at NTNU in Trondheim. With a background in myeloid innate immunity, she has expanded her research interest on intestinal epithelial biology. The gut epithelium is a rapidly renewing tissue with a complex spatial organization. The recent development of intestinal organoids allows to study the intestinal epithelium in vitro in a near-physiological 3D model. Jenny’s current research focuses on the development of quantitative tools to study epithelial homeostasis, regeneration and dynamic responses to infection/inflammation in organoid models in basic research and precision medicine. 

Marta Irla has completed her PhD under supervision of Prof. Dr. Volker F. Wendisch at the Faculty of Biology at Bielefeld University, Germany in the field of metabolic engineering of methylotrophic Bacillus methanolicus. She is currently continuing her work on this bacterium as a postdoc in the group of Prof. Trygve Brautaset at NTNU in Trondheim, Norway. Her major research interests concern translation of genome-scale data into development of industrially relevant production strains. 

Nello Blaser is a postdoctoral research fellow at the Department of Mathematics at University of Bergen working on topological data analysis. His research interests are centered around topological methods in statistics and machine learning with a focus on applicability and practical usefulness of methods. Nello is particularly excited about applications in the biomedical sciences, where he is also looking for inspiration about new questions that can be solved with mathematical methods.

Krishna Agarwal joined UiT in 2017 as a Marie Curie Fellow and with the ambition of creating her own research group on label-free nanoscopy through ERC starting grant. The ambition is close to fruition as her ERC application was funded this year. Through this project, she aims at creating new tools that can support imaging of life-critical processed in living cells at 3D resolution of 50 nm with minimum invasiveness and over long durations. These tools exploit the inherent physical properties of the sub-cellular structures for nanometer scale imaging instead of employing the state-of-the-art but invasive fluorescent labels. She does not completely write off fluorescent nanoscopy though, and will continue applying MUSICAL (her invention for fluorescent nanoscopy) for fluorescence nanoscopy of live cell system.


Raffael Himmelsbach

Tlf: +47 73559024


Research School Forskerskolen

Publisert: 04. Oct 2018 - kl. 10:42
Sist oppdatert: 04. Oct 2018 - kl. 11:24