Katharina holds graduate degrees in Biotechnology and in Chemical Engineering, having graduated from the Ecole Superieure de Biotechnologie de Strasbourg and from the Department of Chemical Engineering at MIT. Her doctoral work in advancing mathematical methods for the sensitivity analysis of oscillating systems, with particular application to biological systems such as the circadian clock, led to a more detailed functional understanding of the design of molecular networks. Other areas of interest included new approaches to parameter fitting, especially relevant to feature-rich but data-poor biological systems.
Prior to joining Applied Biomath, Katharina worked as a Visiting Research Fellow at New England Biolabs, Inc., and as a Computational Software Engineer on the algorithms team at Rhythmia Medical (now Boston Scientific). At New England Biolabs, she participated in the process design for the production of a protease from bench scale experiments to market release. At Rhythmia, she solved electrophysiology cardiac mapping problems, using techniques from finite-element methods, computational physics and inverse problems. Her design of a simulation environment was helpful in directing R&D efforts towards the most promising avenue, and for the efficient planning of human and animal studies.
What is your role at Applied BioMath?
“I am a modeler, but I have recently enjoyed being more involved in project planning and grant proposals. I’m currently interested in learning more about onboarding new modelers effectively and making sure they feel happy, supported, and productive at Applied BioMath.”
What do you love most about working here?
“I love the flexibility. I have, what I think is a rare combination of being supported in my decision to work part time without being considered “less than” in any way, other than work hours. I’m offered opportunities, and I’m asked about development opportunities that I can aim for, going forward. This open-mind attitude and flexibility at ABM are two of the things I would never trade.”
What is the most rewarding part of your job?
“Making a lasting difference. When a project gets completed successfully and the company has follow-up work, that has a direct impact on everyone. It’s a form of validation that you have done a good job—that you have helped the customer, which eventually means helping patients, but it also leaves a lasting impact in what Applied BioMath can do down the road.”
What was your specialty prior to ABM?
“I worked on the algorithms team of Rythmia Medical where we studied how to make an electrical map of a patient’s heart chambers, to guide a surgeon treating arrhythmias. It was a gratifying time, because we were working on a system that went first-in-humans, so to experience its early trials and then see it becoming fully operational is very cool.”
What made you get into the field of life sciences?
“I remember being very fascinated by all that was going on in the life sciences just around the turn of the millennium, around the time the first human genome was being sequenced. I was studying process engineering at the time. There was so much hope and so many new ideas emerging that I decided to switch my studies to biotechnology.”
What do you like to do in your spare time?
“I spend a lot of my time with my children, and I love all things outdoors. I enjoy gardening, hiking, and mountain biking. I am passionate about nature and the environment, so a lot of what I do in my free time relates to my love for the planet. I volunteer a lot of time to sustainability efforts in my town as well.”
Do you have a motto or personal mantra you live by?
“I have always been guided by a line by Mary Oliver. It asks, ‘Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?’ But this particular year, I’ve chosen to follow the phrase ‘Let your faith be bigger than your fear.’ I don’t mean faith in a religious dogma kind of way, but to have faith in humanity and a better future.”
If you won the lottery, what is the first thing you would do?
“I would build a zero-footprint house in Maine. I would like to live there full time, eventually, as I retire or get closer to retirement. That would be exciting to me.”
What’s something most people don’t know about you?
“I like country music! I don’t listen to a ton of it, but I do enjoy it. I also like traditional folk music.”
What inspires you every day?
“I think it goes back to nature and a sense of gratitude and appreciation for all that I have.”