Theresa is intersted in the embryonic development of the nervous system and uses zebrafish as a model system. In her PhD project she focussed on a the Brain-specific homeobox (Bsx) transcription factor described multiple functions it plays during neuronal differentiation. She found that Bsx is crucial for differentiation of all cell types in the pineal gland, a small neuroendocrine center in the diencephalon, most well known for its role in regulating circadian functions. During zebrafish embryonic development the pineal complex also exerts another important function. Between the first and second day after fertilization cells in the embryonic pineal gland anlage migrate to the left. Ther they form the parapineal gland which is necessary for a subsequent asymmetric differentiation of the habenula, a structure which is associated with multiple important neuronal functions including pain processing, learning, anxiety and stress responses. Upon loss of Bsx the circadian hormone melatonin cannot be produced in the pineal gland. Furthermore, the parapineal does ot form and as a consequence the habenula develops symmetrically. There, together with her PhD mentor Wolfgang Driever, published these findings in the journal Development. You can find the article here and the press release from the University of Freiburg here.
You can find a full list of Theresas publications here.
In 2011 Theresa received a EuroLife Scholarship for Early Career Researchers which allowed here to carry out her Master thesis research on a potential role of membrane-associated guanylate kinases with inverted structure (MAGIs) in psychiatric disorders at Karolinska Institute in Stockholm, Sweden.
From 2013 to 2015 theresa received a fellowship from the graduate school GRK1104: From cells to organs - molecular mechanisms of organogenesis to pursue her PhD research on the transcriptional regulation of neuronal subtype specification in the zebrafish forebrain at the University of Freiburg, Germany.
In 2016 Theresa was awarded the Poster Prize on the 3rd Tri-regional stem cell & developmental biology meeting in Strasbourg, France for her Poster on the Brain-specific Homeobox (Bsx) transcription factor in neuroendcrine and pineal complex development.
From when she was still an undergrad student Theresa became involved in tutoring. She worked as a teaching assistent for the Molecular Biology Basic Lab Course at University of Innsbruck in 2009 and again in 2012. During her time as a research associate in Wolfgang Driever's lab she supervised both bachelor and master thesis students.
In 2018 she became a lecturer at University College Freiburg where for the first time she was teaching a course (6 ECTS) which she conceptualized, read and examined herself. The course was entitled "Genetics and Molecular Biology: Genealogy of a Science" and covered modern-day basic knowledge of the research field of genetics to a great extend through the context of scientific discoveries over the last 150 years, from Mendel's rules of heredity to targeted nucleases. You can find a short description of the course content here (p.48).
Starting in her fourth semester at University of Innsbruck, Theresa became involved in academic self-administration. She became elected student's representative for Philosophy in 2007 and head of the students union of the school of humanities in 2009. The same year was also elected as students' representative for Biology. During her time at University of Innsbruck she had seats in search committees for professorships, curriculum commissions, habilitation committees and faculty councils.
During her PhD at University of Freiburg she was student speaker of the graduate school GRK1104: From cells to organs - molecular mechanisms of organogenesis from 2014 to 2015.
Theresa made her baby steps in science at the University of Innsbruck, where she studied Biology with a special focus on Molecular Biology. There, she was awarded a Bachelor's degree in early 2010 after handing in a thesis on the establishment of a genetically encoded Calcium indicator (GECI) for monitoring beta-cell activity in live zebrafish larvae.
In fall 2010 she started a Master's degree in Molecular Medicine at Trinity College Dublin which she completed in 2011 with a thesis on membrane-assciated guanylate kinases (MAGIs) in neurogenesis and neurodevelopmental disorders, a research project she carried out in Lars Olson's Lab at Karolinska Institutet, Stockholm.
From 2013 to 2020 she was a research associate and PhD student in Wolfgang Driever's lab at the University of Freiburg where she worked on the transcriptional control in neuronal differentiation. She was awarded the PhD in March 2020 with the highest possible grade (summa cum laude).
Since March 2020 she continues to work part-time (50%) in Wolfgang Driever's lab, where she contiues to do research in zebrafish neurodevelopmental genetics and is involved in teaching Biology students at undergraduate and graduate levels. In parallel, she works part-time (50%) for the research group of Ekkehard Lausch at the pediatric genetics department of the University Medical Center Freiburg, where she works on genetic causes of skeletal malformations.