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No success without a great team

Diversity is strength! We are happy to integrate and be inspired by people with different background.

Diversity is Strength! 


Dr. Christoph Drees - Lab Manager

Christoph has background in cell biology, and obtained his PhD at the University of Osnabrueck in 2018, where he developed a microscopy system, spectroscopic assays and biofunctional upconversion nanoparticles for the interrogation and manipulation of molecules at nanoscale. After continuing his work in Osnabrueck as a PostDoc, he joined the Walther Lab in May 2022 as a Senior Scientist/Lab-Manager to expand the group's biological portfolio and to support super-resolution microscopy. Together with Melanie, he is responsible for the cell lab.



Avik joined Walther Lab in 2017 after earning his Ph.D. from the University of Münster, Germany in 2015 followed by a postdoctoral stay at the Northwestern University, USA. His research interests span a broad range of topics focusing largely self-assembly and complex system. Currently, he is an independent Alexander von Humboldt Postdoctoral Fellow developing metabolic processes in DNA-based protocells and investigating temperature-driven self-assembly in ssDNA-based nanostructures.


Dr. Aritra Sarkar

Aritra is a Alexander von Humboldt Postdoctoral FellowAritra completed his masters in chemical science from Indian Institute of Technology, Guwahati in 2015, after which he joined as Subi J. George group as a Ph. D. student. He completed his Ph. D. in November 2020 with a thesis aiming at developing design strategies for multicomponent supramolecular polymerization and mechanistic investigation of supramolecular polymerization. From February 2021 he is working as a postdoctoral researcher in the Walther lab, where he will study transient covalent bonds with a target to integrate them into DNA-polymeric materials for homeostatic system engineering. 


Dr. Lorena Baranda

Lorena Baranda is originally from Spain. She completed her PhD in February 2022 under the supervision of Francesco Ricci at the University of Rome Tor Vergata. Her PhD thesis was in the framework of the Marie-Curie ITN “DNA-Robotics” and it focused on DNA-templated reactions controlled by proteins.
She joined the Walther Lab in May 2022 as a postdoctoral researcher to work on strategies for transmembrane communication using DNA nanoscience tools.


Dr. Brigitta Dúzs

Brigitta joined the Walther Lab as a postdoc in 2021 November and is now an Alexander von Humboldt Postdoctoral Fellow. She studied chemistry at Eötvös Loránd University, Budapest, Hungary. She completed her Ph.D. in 2021 under the supervision of Prof. István Szalai on nonlinear reaction-diffusion pattern formation in chemical systems. She has a background in pH autoactivated and other chemical oscillators operated in continuous-feed out-of-equilibrium conditions, which can be used to create dissipative structures, e.g., sustained space-time-periodic chemical signals and highly-ordered stationary Turing patterns. Now her interest focuses on adaptive functional (DNA-)hydrogel devices, where chemical signal propagation meets dynamic mechanical materials.


Dr. Piet Swinkels

Piet is originally form The Netherlands, where studied Molecular Life Science at Wageningen University. After receiving his MSc degree in 2017, he started a PhD at the University of Amsterdam under supervision of Peter Schall. He successfully defended his thesis in the summer of 2022, which dealt with experimental soft matter physics, specifically the fascinating self-assembly behaviour of so-called “patchy” colloidal particles. He joined the Walther Lab late 2022 as a postdoc, where he intends to work on printing technologies in microfluidics for different applications.

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Dr. Soumya Sethi

Soumya Sethi is originally from Chandigarh, India . She completed her PhD in March 2022 from Kyoto University, Japan under the supervision of Prof Masayuki Endo . Her PhD thesis focuses on Photo-controllable DNA based extracellular matrix like scaffold to control cell morphology and behavior.
She joined the Walther Lab in May 2022 as a postdoctoral researcher to work on strategies for Cell -DNA based extracellular material interactions .

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Dr. Marcos Masukawa

I received my Bachelor in Molecular Sciences from the University of São Paulo, Brazil, where I studied the cationic lipid DODAB and polarity sensitive fluorophores using spectroscopic techniques. During my Bachelor I have done short research projects at Weizmman Institute, Israel, studying the structure of the bacterial ribossome, and Durham university, UK, studying the mechanical properties of lipid bilayers. I have obtained my master in the Tokyo Institute of Technology, doing research on microfluidics and surfactants. I have done my PhD at the same university, studying DNA self-assembled structures and their interactions with polymer emulsions. In the Walther Lab, I intend to explore the application of DNA smart materials in molecular biology.

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Dr. Davide Campagna

Davide is originally form Italy, where he received his BSc and MSc in Chemistry at the University of Milan. He then moved to Aachen to pursue his doctoral studies at the Leibniz Institute for Interactive Materials under the supervision of Dr. Robert Göstl, working in the field of mechanochemistry, more specifically trying to design and make novel types of mechanoresponsive molecules for the controlled activation of reactive amine groups in polymeric materials. He joined the Walther Lab in May 2023 as postdoc to work on novel approaches to implement primitive learning functionalites in polymer materials based on the reconfiguration of multi-responsive units.

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Dr. Derek Kiebala

Derek completed his Bachelor’s degree in Integrated Science and Chemistry at Northwestern University in Chicago, his hometown. In the group of Prof. Samuel Stupp, Derek investigated the self-assembly of perylene diimides as part of a soft hydrogel material for hydrogen production. Subsequently, Derek joined Dr. Miguel Angel Pujana at the Oncology Institute of Catalonia to research alternative drug treatment strategies for endocrine therapy-resistant breast tumors. Derek then completed his Master’s in Organic Chemistry with Magna Cum Laude distinction at KU Leuven in Belgium, where in the group of Prof. Wim Dehaen he carried out research in dipolar cycloaddition. After completing his Ph.D. investigating supramolecular mechanophores and mechanochromic materials in the group of Prof. Christoph Weder, he joined the Walther group in July 2023 to develop strain-adaptive hydrogels using DNA controllers.


Claudius Lupfer

I received my master’s degree in chemistry from the University of Freiburg. My master thesis in Walther group was focused on the development of tailored DNA-polymer conjugates. I am now working on my PhD thesis within the DFG Cluster of Excellence livMatS on the development of new trainable and mechanofluorescent materials.


Wei Liu

I received my Master’s degrees from Beijing University of Chemical Technology, China. Now I am a PhD candidate in Walther group and my topic is about the fundamentals and applications of colloidal structures formed through phase-segregating DNA structures.


Cecilia Oluwadunsin Akintayo

I studied chemistry at Clausthal University of Technology and i'm now enrolled in the "Master of Sustainable Materials – Polymer Sciences" program at the University of Freiburg. Cecilia is now working on her PhD thesis in the framework of the DFG Cluster of Excellence livMatS and is interested in mechano-adaptive DNA hydrogels.

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Oliver Skarsetz

I received a Double-degree in the International Master program in Polymer Science between the University of Freiburg and Strasbourg. I am now a PhD candidate in the Walther group working on programmable auxetic metamaterials. I run the 3D printing infrastructure in the group. I am part of the Zeiss-funded iPROM Cluster.


Daniel Hoenders

Daniel Hoenders studied chemistry in Aachen and is now working on his PhD in the framework of light-swtichable and light-adaptive nanocellulose materials.


Sjoerd Engels

I received my Bachelors and Masters degrees in chemistry from Radboud University in the Netherlands, where I focused on molecular materials and polymer chemistry. I joined the Walther group in December 2020 as a Marie Curie VITRIMAT project, focusing on bioinspired nanocomposites involving vitrimeric phases. 


Joshua Krehan

I received my master’s degree in chemistry at the University of Mainz. After completing my master thesis at the Max Planck Institute for Polymer Research with a focus on polymeric micelles for drug delivery applications, I joined the Walther group as a PhD student in March 2021. My current research interests include the development of smart carrier systems with encapsulated pH-effects and pH-modulation systems. 


Wenqian Yu

Wenqian studied between Uni-Freiburg and Uni-Strasbourg in an International Master programme in Polymer Science (IM-PolyS) after obtaining bachelor degree in applied chemistry in Nanjing Normal University. She is working on a PhD project in the realm of bioinspired nanocomposites.


Swapnasopan Datta

I was born in West Bengal, India. I did my Bachelors in Chemistry (major) with Physics and Mathematics as ancillary subjects from St Xavier's College, Kolkata (University of Calcutta). After completing my graduation, I went on to pursue my Masters (MS) in Materials Science at the JNCASR (Jawaharlal Centre for Advanced Scientific Research), Bangalore. My MS project involved the synthesis of stimulus responsive molecules. I have joined Walther Lab as a PhD student (2021) and my area of interest is the study of DNA based Reaction Networks away from Equilibrium inside Protocells. 


Giorgio Fusi

Giorgio is originally from Varese, Italy. He completed his Bachelors and Masters degree in Chemistry at Lancaster University in the UK, with a focus on supramolecular and materials chemistry. Giorgio joined the Walther group in September 2019 as a PhD student, working on stimuli-responsive, adaptive and programmable hydrogel materials with a view to soft robotic applications. He is part of the ETN CREANET.

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Charu Sharma

I received my Masters degree in Chemistry from Indian Institute of Technology Delhi (IIT Delhi) and my Masters thesis focussed on developing novel methods for the synthesis of organic compounds employing Photoredox Catalysis. Now i am working on my PhD thesis in the framework of European Training Network (ETN) and is interested in the autonomous and dynamic feedback driven self-assembly of bio-hybrid materials.


Johann Fritzen

I received my Bachelor’s as well as my Master’s degree in chemistry at the University of Mainz. In 2021 I joined the Walther group for my Master’s thesis, where I was working on chemically driven supramolecular polymerization and out-of-equilibrium systems. In April 2022 I am starting my PhD studies, where I will be working in the field of DNA nanotechnology.


Weixiang Chen

I received my Bachelor degree in Macromolecule Materials and Engineering from Shandong University in 2019 and my Master degree in Polymer Sciences from University of Freiburg in 2021, with research experience on the field of polymer crystallization. In August 2021, I joined the WaltherLab as a PhD student. My current research topics focus on the self-assembly behavior of various building blocks in the hydrodynamic soft confinement.


Ricarda Schmidt

After completing my binational Bachelor Regio Chimica, I joined the Walther group during my Master studies in Chemistry and did my thesis investigating DNA-based mechanophores in synthetic materials.

For my PhD, I continue working on advanced mechanofluorescent materials systems at the intersection of biocompatible, biobased and synthetic polymers and active materials.


Maria de Roy

Maria received her binational master’s degree in Sustainable Materials and Polymer Sciences at the University of Strasbourg, and the University of Freiburg. For her master’s thesis, she has worked with vanillin-based vitrimers and Polymer-Induced Self-Assembly at the Aachen-Maastricht Institute for Biobased Materials in the Netherlands. She joined the Walther group in October 2021 as a Ph.D. student, working on mechano-adaptive DNA materials.  

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Kohei Nishiyama

Kohei completed his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in Chemistry at Hokkaido University in Japan. His master’s thesis focussed on developing motor protein-based microsystems programmed with DNA reaction cascades. He joined the Walther Lab in April 2023 as a Ph.D. student, working on spatiotemporal pattern formation organized by DNA reaction networks.

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Nikta Alvandi

I received my master’s degree in Nanobiotechnology from the Shahid Beheshti University, Iran. My master’s thesis was focused on drug delivery to breast cancer cells by fluorescent nanocarriers. I joined the Walther Lab as a Ph.D. student (2023), working on biointeractive DNA nanostructures.

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Leo Werner

I received my Bachelor's degree in biomedical chemistry at the Johannes Gutenberg-University Mainz in 2021, working on electrochemical dibromination of terpenes. I joined the Walther Group in April 2023 for my master thesis, I will be working on photo perturbed gels using reversible modulation of enzyme activity.

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Lea Duttenhofer

I received my Bachelor’s degree in chemistry at the Rheinische Friedrich-Wilhelms-University in Bonn, where I worked on the total synthesis of Lysolipin I. At the Kyushu University in Japan I spent a six months research stay focusing on the synthesis of fluorescent substrates for biomedical applications. In May 2023 I joined the Walther Lab for my master thesis. I will be working on the mechanism of mRNA transfection by lipid-polymer emulsions.


Lydia Braun and Romina Pilz

Lydie and Romina are our two capable technicians, who keep the whole operation afloat! 

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Melanie Miller

Melanie joined the group in June 2022 and is the technician responsible for the cell lab.


Renata Widera

Administrative Assistant to Andreas Walther and the whole team

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