In the Zernike Institute Advent Calendar, we are presenting 24 short spotlights in December. In these specials, we highlight PhD students, postdocs, support staff, and technicians of our research groups and team - providing a glimpse in their typical day at work. In Episode 21 meet Maurice Dekker, PhD student in the Micromechnics group of prof. Patrick Onck.
In the Micromechanics group of Patrick Onck, I’m working on coarse-grained molecular dynamics simulations of disordered proteins. I’m part of an interdisciplinary consortium that studies how proteins can guard the phase state of other proteins in our cells. Several of these proteins are related to the nuclear transport cycle, which is the main focus of my research. The transport of biomolecules between the cell’s cytosol to the nucleus is completely governed by the nuclear pore complex, one of the largest protein assemblies in our cells, containing a highly selective permeability barrier that only allows specific molecules to translocate. Although experimental techniques have made great advancements in determining the structure of these nuclear pores, the highly dynamic permeability barrier (and therefore the transport mechanism) remains unresolved. Using molecular dynamics simulations, we try to elucidate the dynamics and mechanism of the nuclear transport cycle.
At the same time, we’re providing supporting simulations for the experiments of our collaborators at the UMCG and TU Delft. This can sometimes be challenging, as our simulations are generally at different length and time scales than the experiments. However, when our simulations do align with the experimental results and are able to provide new insights into the experiments, this always brings a moment of joy.
In the weekends I’m active as a gymnastics judge, on a regional and a national level. Recently, I got the opportunity to judge my first international game!
Contact: Maurice Dekker
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