A Personal Touch of Geert van den Bogaart

Bogaart, van den Geert.jpg

Please learn more about colleagues in our "Personal Touch" series setting employees in the spotlight. A light-hearted manner to learn about the colleagues you know and those you don't!.

This week: Geert van den Bogaart






1. Name, nationality, current function, department & theme?
Geert van den Bogaart, Dutch, assistant professor, Department of Tumor Immunology, Theme Cancer development and immune defense.

2. When you were a child what did you want to be when you grew up? Can you tell us something about your childhood years. 
It has always been my childhood dream to become a scientist and unravel the secrets of nature. Maybe I watched too much television as a kid.

3. What was your previous academic training, where did you study and why did you choose that study/those studies? 
I studied Biology and did my PhD in Biochemistry, both in Groningen. I believed (and still believe) we are at the dawning of the age of biology and many important breakthoughs in the life sciences are just ahead of us.

4. The RIMLS motto is ‘to understand molecular mechanisms of disease’. What does this mean for you?
I am fascinated by how little we know. For many diseases, if not most, we have very little understanding of the underlying mechanims and for many medicines we have little clue of how they precisely work. I suppose it is comforting to know that we won’t be without a job soon.

5. Which international scientist inspires/inspired you the most? Please give a motivation why.
I cannot single out one individual. I work and have worked with many great scientists and I learned and continue to learn a lot from them. However, you have to pursue your own ideas and find your own way in science.

6. Which research discovery that you have made has made you most proud?
In 2011, I disovered a new way for the organization of cellular membranes. I am pround at this study beause it is a truly multidisciplinary combination of biochemistry, cell biology, organic chemistry and computational physics. It is my best cited paper with over 200 citations.

7. Given unlimited finance what experiment would you perform? 
Invest in light sheet microscopy. This is a new and upcoming technology allowing for long imaging experiments with very little photodamage. RIMLS should take part in this important emerging technology.

8. What does your working area (desk, office) look like and what does it say about you (or your research)? 
I moved from an office back into the lab. I am too young to lock myself up in an office and want to be in the middle of the action, and hope my students won’t discover this attempt to micromanage them.

9. Nominate a colleague to be in the spotlight and what would you like to ask him or her? 
I nominate Martijn Verdoes. He recently obtained an ERC starting grant and a tenure track fellowship from the Institute for Chemical Immunology. Martijn now has to spend a lot of money within a short period of time; a ‘luxery’ problem of peak funding. I would like to know how he plans to deal with this potential problem and where he does see himself in 10 years.

10. You are nominated by Maxim Baranov and he asked  What is your answer to this question?
"I would like to ask Geert van den Bogaart – my supervisor – about his recipe for success at winning so many research grants and always staying positive and optimistic no matter what."

The most important advice I can give is to not fall into the ‘high risk, high gain’ marketing nonsense from funding organizations. Funding board will consistently look for ‘low risk, high gain’ so this is what you have to incorporate in your proposals.  
Optimism is the single most important quality for a career in science. When I look at my successful peers and senior scientists, they are a very diverse group of people with many different personalities, but they are all optimists.

11. What type of person are you, quick insights:
a) Mac or  PC:
PC. I prefer substance over style.
b) Theater or Cinema:
Theater of course (cinema only in case of art-house movies)
c) Dine out or dine in: 
Depends on who is cooking.
d) Ferrari or Fiat:
Italian cars? What’s wrong with Opel?
e) Schopaholic or chocoholic:
f) Culture or Nature:
Nature (but Science, PNAS or Cell will also do)

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