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Meet The Team

Soojin Ryu

Prof. Soojin Ryu, PhD

Principal Investigator

I was born in Seoul, Korea, but grew up in New York City. I got my bachelor’s degree from Harvard and my Ph.D. at the University of California, Berkeley at the laboratory of Prof. Robert Tjian, before moving to Freiburg, Germany, for my postdoc at the laboratory of Prof. Wolfgang Driever. In Freiburg, I started working with zebrafish and have been continuing to work with zebrafish ever since. After my postdoc, I was a group leader at the Max Planck Institute for Medical Research in Heidelberg before moving to Mainz as a professor. Starting 2020 I’ve taken a position as a professor of neurobiology at the University of Exeter, while keeping a part-time affiliation with the Unimedical Center Mainz. I am fascinated by how stress hormones alter our behavior and the brain and would like to understand how stress resilience can be developed and fostered. 

Min-Kyeung Choi

Dr. Min-Kyeung Choi

Post-doctoral Scientist

I was born in Busan, Korea. I got a bachelor’s and a Ph.D. degree from Konkuk University, Seoul, in animal biotechnology and genomics. Subsequently, I had a chance to get a postdoc position in the same University with the Korean national fellowship. During my Ph.D. period, I mainly focused on discovering innate immune genes in animal genomes and characterizing tissue or disease-specific gene expression with its associated DNA methylation patterns. I joined the lab of Prof. Ryu in March 2018 as a postdoc to figure out the epigenomic and molecular mechanisms underlying regulating the cell fate and plasticity during the developmental stages under stress using the zebrafish model. 


Dr. Helen Eachus

Post-doctoral Scientist

I am originally from Manchester, UK and studied for my Bachelor’s degree and then Ph.D. at the University of Sheffield, UK. My interdisciplinary Ph.D. project, supervised by Dr. Penny Watt, Professor Marysia Placzek and Dr. Jon Wood was an investigation of the effect of disc1 on the stress response in zebrafish. Subsequently I took a position as a post-doctoral researcher at the University of Sheffield, where I worked on two projects. The first project, in the lab of Dr. Vincent Cunliffe, was regarding the epigenetic embedding of stress responses in the zebrafish brain, whilst the second project, supervised by Dr. Nils Krone, focused on the characterisation of a zebrafish model of 21-hydroxylase deficiency. In 2019 I joined the lab of Professor Soojin Ryu, where I am working on identifying novel molecular mechanisms that underlie acute responses to stress.


Dr. Elina Jacobs

Post-doctoral Scientist

I was born and grew up in Luxembourg, and moved to the UK for my studies. I completed a BSc with Honours in Neuroscience at the University of Edinburgh, and then moved to UCL for the Wellcome Trust Neuroscience PhD programme. In my PhD, supervised by Profs Kenneth Harris & Matteo Carandini, I looked at cortical states during decision making in mice. As a systems neuroscientist, I became drawn to zebrafish as a model because of the possibility of obtaining cellular resolution recordings of the whole brain during behaviour in larvae. After a short postdoctoral position in the Isogai Lab at the UCL Sainsbury Wellcome Centre and a collaborative project with Martin Meyer’s group at King’s College London, I joined the Ryu lab with the aim of investigating the neural physiology of stress states in zebrafish larvae.

Alexander Cook

Alexander Cook

I was born in Nottingham in the UK, and attended Nottingham Trent University to study physiology and pharmacology B.Sc. Subsequently, I moved on to a master’s degree in neuroscience at Keele University, during which, I carried out my research project at the University Medical Center Freiburg, Germany, concerning olfactory function in an animal model of depression. In April of 2017, I joined Professor Ryu's lab with an IMB International Ph.D. Programme Scholarship where I develop a zebrafish model of stress resilience to identify novel molecular resilience mechanisms.

Siyong Kim

Siyong Kim

I was born in Seoul in South Korea, and achieved my bachelor's degree in Biomedical Engineering and Brain-Cognitive Sciences at the Korea University in Seoul. After that, I worked in the Center for Bionics of Korea Institute of Science and Technology (KIST) for a year while preparing my graduate school. I started the research project for my master's degree at Seoul National University in Korea. In October of 2017, with an IMB International Ph.D. Programme Scholarship, I moved to Mainz in order to elucidate the molecular mechanisms underlying resilience to stress by using zebrafish in Professor Ryu's lab.


Johanna Kaspareit

I was born in Karlsruhe in Germany and studied biosciences at the University of Heidelberg. During my bachelor’s thesis, I had the opportunity to work with zebrafish at the Institute of Toxicology and Genetics at KIT in Karlsruhe. When I moved on to a master’s degree in biomedicine at Johannes Gutenberg-University of Mainz, I first joined Professor Ryu’s lab as a student assistant. Having enjoyed working with fish in the past, I decided to stay in the lab for my master’s thesis. In 2020 I was accepted into the PhD program of Mainz Research School of Translational Biomedicine. I am interested in the stress-related behaviour of zebrafish larvae.


Dr. Anna Tochwin

Research Assistant


Kathrin Domdera

Animal Caretaker

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