Stéphanie Portet

Research Stay at RWTH Aachen University Kármán Fellow at RWTH Aachen University in 2014
Information about our research alumna

Stéphanie Portet is a current associate professor at the Department of Mathematics, Faculty of Science at the University of Manitoba, Canada.

During a three month research stay at the Institute of Molecular and Cellular Anatomy (MOCA) with Professor Rudolf Leube and Professor Dorit Merhof in 2014, she investigated the development of imaging models of intermediate filament networks in biological cells. One result of her research stay was the publication together with research alumnus Anotida Madzvamuse and Professor Leube about keratin dynamics and validation of her work.


Interview with Stéphanie Portet

Stéphanie Portet Copyright: University of Manitoba

Can you explain in a few sentences what your main research field is all about and its importance in a broader context?

I am a biomathematician working on applications in cell biology. I develop, study, and analyze mathematical and computational models to investigate biological problems. My main interest is in the modelling of cytoskeletal networks, in particular intermediate filament networks. Mathematical modelling is a powerful and non-invasive investigative tool in cell biology.

How did you get interested in a research stay as a Theodore von Kármán Fellow at RWTH Aachen University, especially at MOCA and LfB?

Professor Leube and Windoffer are internationally renowned experts in the intermediate filament fields; their work and expertise in imaging are essential for the understanding of the organization and function of intermediate filament networks in cells. To develop, calibrate, and validate my models, discussions with experimentalists and confrontations of model responses to experimental data are essential. It is why my collaboration with Professor Leube, the head of MOCA, and his group was and remains essential for my work.

Could you please summarize your stay at RWTH Aachen University – What was your most rewarding experience as a Theodore von Karman-Fellow?

I was hosted during three months at MOCA. I interacted every day with experimentalists and intermediate filaments experts. I was able to develop, in close collaboration with biologists, scenarios for mathematical models and compare the model responses to experimental data. Via these daily interactions with experts I was able to refine the model assumptions.

Which tangible outcomes of your stay are most important?

One result of my stay was a publication: Keratin Dynamics: modeling the interplay between turnover and transport - S. Portet, A. Madzvamuse, A. Chung, R. Leube and R. Windoffer (2015)

Moreover, I extended my knowledge of the biology of intermediate filaments. Finally, I had the opportunity to validate my collaboration with Anotida Madzvamuse, another former Theodore von Karman-Fellow whom I had met in 2013 when he was visiting RWTH Aachen University.

Is this your first visit to Aachen? What were your impressions?

It was not my first visit; I came to Aachen several times to visit Professor Leube and his group. My first visit was in 2010. Aachen is a brilliant and vibrant city, where I feel home. The university is a very important part of the city.

Is there something you think German academia could learn from academia in Canada or France or vice-versa?

I have experienced and benefitted already several times from the involvement of German institutions in the support of visiting scientists. These programs, such as the Theodore von Karman Fellowship at RWTH Aachen University, are one of the strengths and characteristics of the German system.

You have multiple alumni identities in France, Canada, and Germany. What do you think of alumni networks or networking in general?

My work necessitates interdisciplinary approaches; collaborations are needed. To establish and develop collaborations, networking is necessary.

Exploratory Research Space at RWTH Aachen