Stefanie Duvigneau successfully defended her PhD thesis!

Research focused on Structured population balance modeling of biological processes

May 11, 2023

The PhD program is known to be a challenging yet rewarding experience that can lead to future success. Stefanie Duvigneau recently completed her PhD thesis defense on March 27, 2023, after being an active member of the IMPRS program from January 2016 to August 2022. During her PhD, she worked in the research group of Prof. Achim Kienle “Automation/Modelling” and developed multiscale models for two biotechnological processes.

One of the processes she worked on was the production of influenza A vaccine (IAV). Her thesis focused on developing a model-based workflow for assessing appropriate combinations of different gene modifications in human cell lines to increase product yield. Stefanie used a high-dimensional population balance to predict favorable gene combinations for multiple overexpression, and the results showed that genetically modified host cell lines could be used to optimize the IAV production process.

The second process she worked on was the microbial production of polyhydroxyalkanoates (PHAs), which are alternatives to petroleum-based plastics. She presented two multiscale model approaches for the production of PHB and PHBV and validated the models through bioreactor experiments. The models could predict polymer properties through chain length distribution and composition, making them valuable for assessing PHA production.

Stefanie acknowledged her supervisor, Prof. Achim Kienle, and her Postdoc mentor, Prof. Robert Dürr, for their support and guidance during her PhD. She also noted the importance of collaborating with peers with different scientific backgrounds, which helped her gain different perspectives on her research and bring new ideas to fruitful scientific results.

In terms of advice to future PhD students, Stefanie emphasized finding a good mentor close to the research topic and taking advantage of advanced training opportunities to develop both scientific and soft skills. She plans to apply the skills and knowledge gained during her PhD studies to her future career and research endeavors and support new PhD students with scientific and non-scientific advice.

Overall, the IMPRS program offers a unique opportunity for interdisciplinary research, collaboration, and skill development, which can set students up for future success.

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