Former Lab Members

Empar Figueres Sierra 🇪🇸 – Research Technician – email

Empar is originally from Valencia, Spain. She has been in Switzerland since 2012 and completed her studies (Biology Laboratory Technician) at the University of Neuchâtel in June 2018. She then joined our lab as a research technician for 12 months. Taking care of common tasks, such as maintaining the insect cell facility, she was also involved in different projects working with Arabidopsis thaliana.
After 4 years working in an academic setting, she had the opportunity to work with an international tobacco company, Philip Morris at Neuchâtel. She now works as research technician for the department of Gene Expression where she performs RNA and DNA extractions from human and animal cells manually or with robots. She is also involved in projects with Tobacco plants.

Javier is originally from Madrid, Spain. He studied Biological Science at UCM in Madrid, Spain. Javier did his PhD at the CBGP in Madrid, Spain, working on root phototropism and growth in Arabidopsis. After his PhD, Javier did a bridging Postdoc at the CBGP, studying the accumulation of different zeatin isomers during phosphate starvation response in Arabidopsis. He joined Julia´s group at the Department of Plant Molecular Biology at UNIL in January 2018 to work on the molecular structure and function of cell wall sensors. Javier left the University life to work for a Biotech company.

Sebastian studied molecular biology at Heidelberg University, where he obtained both, his Bachelor (2013) and Master (2015) degree. During his studies he focused on plant biology with a special interest in cell-wall signaling. His main project was to characterize a malectin-like domain containing receptor-like protein, with a putative function in cell-wall maintenance. After his master, he decided to stay in the cell-wall signaling field and joined Julia Santiago`s lab as a PhD in 2016. His project focused on the impact of LRR-RKs on cell-wall modifications during floral organ abscission in Arabidopsis thaliana, using genetics and cell biology paired with advanced protein biochemistry. Sebastian successfully graduated in October 2021 and he currently works as a Biotech consultant.

Born and raised in Bordeaux, France, Steven studied plant biology at the university of Montpellier. In 2013, he joined the ENS-Lyon plant reproduction and development laboratory where he did his master thesis on auxin signaling in Arabidopsis with Teva Vernoux. He then started his PhD on seed development in Gwyneth Ingram lab. There he focused on intercompartmental signaling aspects of seed development, uncovering a signaling pathway responsible for the formation of a novel structure at the interface between the embryo and the endosperm, the embryo sheath. In 2017, he joined the lab to study signaling events responsible for cell wall integrity sensing in Arabidopsis, combining structural biology, biochemistry and cell biology. During his postdoc Steven was awarded with an EMBO long-term fellowship. Steven is now a Research scientist CNRS at the University of Toulouse working on dissecting the role of extensins.

Octavia studied Biology at Babeș-Bolyai University in Cluj-Napoca, Romania. She did her Master in Molecular Biotechnology at the same University, in collaboration with Oscar Vicente’s lab at IBMCP in Valencia, Spain, working on isolation and characterization of the vacuolar Na+/H+ antiporter NHX1 from three species with different tolerance to salinity. In 2016, Octavia joined our group in the Department of Plant Molecular Biology at the University of Lausanne, Switzerland. During her PhD she worked on dissecting the specificity of peptide recognition by LRR receptors in the control of epidermis development. She graduated in March 2022 and she is currently a postdoc in the lab of Tonni Grube Andersen at the Max Plant Institute for plant breeding research in Germany. She has been awarded with several postdoc fellowships including an EMBO long-term fellowship.