What was your first thought after you were told that you would receive the Foundation Award?
This must be a joke! Normally, when someone calls and says that you have won something, they are mostly just phishing calls and it is better to hang up quickly. After a very nice conversation with the foundation's notary - Mr Burgemeister – I however was quickly convinced that I had indeed been selected for the Hans-and-Ruth-Giessen-Foundation Prize.
In what way will this prize and the money support you in your academic career?
For me, the prize is an optimal step towards an independent academic career. I was lucky to have Rolf Müller as a very open-minded supervisor, who always supported me in pursuing many of my own ideas during my doctoral research. The prize money is the first money that I can spend completely on my own and it is therefore a good opportunity for me to see what you have to budget for in research.
What will you buy with the money?
Firstly, I would like to use the money for a stay abroad, during which I would like to study neglected tropical infectious diseases in more detail. More specifically, I am interested in diseases caused by helminths (=worms). Since this is currently somewhat difficult, due to Corona, I will probably first use part of the prize money to publish my research results as open-access, which unfortunately is not free of charge in most journals.
Do you plan to set up your own research group in which you can specifically research tropical infectious diseases?
Definitely! Having my own research group in this area is my biggest dream and I really hope that the future holds this for me.
You are moving soon, what exciting things will you be doing?
In the new year, I will be working on another type of soil bacteria - the actinomycetes - at The Scripps Research Institute (TSRI) in Florida. Here, I will continue with the discovery of new natural products and their development towards potential drugs. I am very excited about the new chemical structures I potentially find there and what daily life in a different lab is like. As one of my favourite hobbies is travelling, I am of course also looking forward to exploring another continent and meeting many interesting people. In general, natural product research is a field where you never get bored. Because every new bacterial strain is "like a box of chocolates; you never know what you are going to get".
Prof Rolf Müller about Chantal’s award:
“As the supervisor of the doctoral thesis, I am very happy for Chantal and proud of her and her superb dissertation. She is an excellent scientist and certainly deserves this prestigious award. I am sure that this award will help her in her future career and I wish her all the best personally and for her research"