I am a physicist and received my PhD from TU Dresden and the MPI of Cell Biology and Genetics (Dresden) for research on the movement of motor proteins along microtubules. I developed optical methods to enable the nanometer-precise tracking of single motors in-vitro using gold nanoparticles. Linking in-vitro and in-vivo worlds fascinates me. Therefore, I joined Staffan Persson’s lab at the University of Melbourne, where I worked on the regulation, movement, and spatio-temporal organization of cellulose synthases in Arabidopsis thaliana cells. Currently, my research aims to understand how cells (or the molecules within them) generate highly ordered and periodic patterns of the plasma membrane, the cytoskeleton, and the cell wall, both in-vivo and in-vitro.

Annika Saß

Originally from Rostock, Germany, I moved to Berlin for my bachelor studies in biology at Humboldt University. I continued with a master in molecular biology and biochemistry at the University of Potsdam. In parallel, I worked at the MPI for Molecular Plant Physiology (Potsdam) where I investigated the role of autophagy during deacclimation in Arabidopsis.

In my PhD, I aim to decipher cytoskeletal proteins that influence the orderly patterning of secondary walls in the Arabidopsis vasculature. Using novel genetic and computer analysis tools, I aim to understand the molecular mechanisms of pattern formation and determine what selective benefits and functions these patterns provide to plants.


Knowing how things work was the reason I decided to become a researcher. I grew up in Greater Noida (India) where I was surrounded by a variety of plants. I received bachelor and master degrees in biotechnology at Gautam Buddha University. During my studies, I worked with green algae (Chlorella pyrenoidosa) and researched how volatile organic components produced by bacteria and cyanobacteria affect the growth and metabolism of the algae.

In my PhD, I am investigating how secondary wall patterning is established in the vasculature of Arabidopsis. I focus on the plasma membrane (considered to be the site of origin of pattern formation) and aim at identifying the proteins that influence pattern formation using novel genetic tools and image analysis.