Spotlight on Postdoc: Juliane Hirnet

in Homepage Spotlights, Student Spotlight
March 11th, 2014

Juliane Hirnet
Postdoctoral Fellow
Viglianti Lab, Department of Microbiology

Juliane Hirnet

What brought you to BU?
I did my PhD work in Germany in a Russian-German collaboration project, during which I spent some time in a Russian lab. After finishing the PhD I wanted to do a postdoc in an English-speaking country. I was very open regarding the geographical location (mostly US and UK) and applied at several universities, including BU. My PhD thesis was about polioviruses and I wanted to stay in the area of virology, so when I heard about a postdoc position in Prof. Viglianti’s lab in the Department of Microbiology at BUMC, I applied. He liked me and here I am.

What kind of research are you involved in?
My current project is investigating HIV escape mutants from rosiglitazone treatment. Rosiglitazone is an approved drug used to treat diabetes, but it also has restrictive effects on HIV replication.  Using the mutants I try to uncover the mechanism with which rosiglitazone effects HIV. We also recently started a new interesting project looking into interactions of gingivitis-causing bacteria and HIV infections.

You recently started the post-doc blog, can you tell me about it?

postdoc blog
As the comic above demonstrates postdocs are often invisible at research institutions, the postdoc blogs gives postdocs an opportunity to read and write about things that are important to them, which are often very different from the topics important to PhD students or faculty. I also hope that PhD students and faculty read it and maybe raise awareness of postdocs, so we don’t stay “ghosts”.

Since the current funding situation isn’t very good, I have been looking into alternative careers and science writing was something I am interested in, the postdoc blog is also a good way for me to practice writing and learning about publishing and editing. Currently it is mostly me doing the writing, but every postdoc at BU is certainly invited to contribute.

Are you involved in many activities on campus?
I am a member of the Postdoc advisory committee, which meets every three months to discuss postdoc issues with administrators and faculty. Currently we are working on a mentoring program for postdocs.

What do you enjoy doing outside of BU?
Postdocs work a lot and when we don’t work we think about work…I also enjoy traveling, back to Europe to see my family and around New England on weekend trips.

Do you have any advice for current students?
It is crucially important to start thinking about the future early, just getting the PhD, even a brilliant one, is no longer enough to secure a job or funding. Start applying for postdocs even before you start writing your thesis and go to as many networking events as possible.