Structural Task Force

Meet the Team

Andrea Thorn

Group Leader
Rudolf-Virchow Center, Würzburg University
Andrea is a specialist for crystallography and Cryo-EM structure solution, having contributed to programs like SHELX, ANODE and (a little bit) to PHASER in the past. Her group develops the diffraction diagnostics tool AUSPEX, a neural network for secondary structure annotation of Cryo-EM maps (HARUSPEX) and enables other scientists to solve problem structures. Andrea is very passionate about structural biology and good at bringing people together. This is (among other things) why she is the main coordinator of this project.

Tristan Croll

postdoctoral research associate
Cambridge Institute for Medical Research, University of Cambridge
Tristan is a specialist in the modelling of atomic structures into low-resolution crystallographic and cryo-EM density, and developer of the model-building package ISOLDE. His focus in the project is on correcting the various errors in geometry and/or chemical identity that tend to occur in less well-resolved regions, with the overall aim of bringing the standards of model building at 3 Angstroms close to that expected in atomic-resolution maps. For applicable models (i.e. primarily those of lower than 2 Angstrom resolution) he is inspecting and (where necessary) rebuilding in ISOLDE, ensuring that every single residue has been visually checked and validated against its map.

Yunyun Gao

Postdoc in the Auspex project
Rudolf-Virchow Center, Würzburg University
Yunyun is a method developer for strategies of analysing data from biomacromolecules. Before joining Thorn group, he had been working on SAXS/WAXS of polymers and proteins. He is interested in improving objectivity and reliability of data analysis. Yunyun is currently extending the functionality of Auspex. He is the repository manager and Auspex handler for the Coronavirus Structural Taskforce.

Sam Horrell

Post-Doctoral Research Associate
Diamond Light Source, Oxfordshire, UK
Sam is a structural biologist working on method development around structural biology at Diamond Light Source, in particular ways of better understanding how enzymes function through the production of structural movies. Sam is working through deposited structures related to SARS-CoV and SARS-CoV-2 with a view to providing the most accurate protein structures possible for future drug design efforts. Sam is a keen scientific communicator, having participated in a number of science slams and public lectures on the healing power of crystals (drug design through crystallography), and is now live streaming his work on corona virus structures on twitch.

Gianluca Santoni

Serial Crystallography data scientist
European Synchrotron Radiation Facility, Grenoble, France
Gianluca is an expert in protein crystallography data collection and analysis. After a PhD in structure-based drug design, he has worked as a postdoc on the beamline ID23-1 at the European Synchrotron Radiation Facility (ESRF) and has developed the SSX data analysis software ccCluster. His current interests are the optimization of data collection strategies for multi-crystal data collection and the automatization of data processing.
Gianluca is also the scientific coordinator for the ISPyB project, aimed at giving access to experimental metadata and autoprocessing results to users of synchrotron lightsources.
He's taking to this project his expertise in data mining and analysis, and his sense of humor.
Agnel Praveen Joseph

Agnel Praveen Joseph

Computational scientist
Science and Technology Facilities Council, UK
Dr. Agnel Praveen works as a computational scientist in the CCP-EM team, at the Science and Technology Facilities Council, UK. 

He is interested in approaches to interpret and validate maps and atomic models derived from Cryo-EM data, and looks also into computational methods for the interpretation of cryo-ET data. In collaboration with five other sites in the UK, he is involved in the development and implementation of a user-friendly interface in a CCP-EM software package for validation at different resolution ranges.

In the task force, Agnel is mostly involved with the validation of Cryo-Em structures.
Dale Tronrud

Dale Tronrud

Research scientist
Dale Tronrud has both solved protein crystal structures and developed methods and software for the optimization of macromolecular models against X-ray data and known chemical structural information. 

He has had a long-standing interest in enzyme:inhibitor complexes and photosynthetic proteins, focusing on the Fenna-Matthews-Olson protein. In addition, he has also been involved in the validation and repair of many PDB models. 

Getting the chemistry right has been critical to all these projects. And this is exactly what Dale also does in the task force. He also occasionally teaches the other members some the secrets of crystallographic refinement.

Richardson Lab

Richardson Lab
Duke University, Durham, North Carolina, USA
The long-term goal of the Richardson lab is to contribute to a deeper understanding of the 3D structures of proteins and RNA, including their description, determinants, folding, evolution, and control. Their approaches include structural bioinformatics, macromolecular crystallography, molecular graphics, analysis of structures, and methods development, currently focussed on the improvement of structural accuracy. In this project, they check and improve the molecular geometry of the corona virus molecules.

Sabrina Stäb

Biochemistry M.Sc. student
Rudolf-Virchow Center, Würzburg University
Sabrina is studying biochemistry (M.Sc.) and works as a research assistant in the Thorn lab in Würzburg. During her bachelor thesis on "Crystallization and structure solution of high-quality structures for MAD experiments", she was able to gain a lot of experience in the field of crystallography and now brings this experience to the project. When she doesn't have to stay at home because of corona, she likes to spend her free time with friends or in the forest picking mushrooms.
Picture of Ferdinand Kirsten

Ferdinand Kirsten

Biochemistry B.Sc. Student
Rudolf-Virchow Center, Würzburg University
Ferdinand joined the Thorn lab recently and will do his Bachelor-Thesis on solvent exchange and interactions in macromolecular crystallography this summer.
Still new to the world of crystallography and structural refinement, he tries to help wherever he can, with a main focus on literature and genome research as well as structural refinement with Coot.
Even if he´s more of the “I like to touch stuff and work in the lab” -type, in this desperate time of skype calls and home office he might find his hidden passion for bioinformatics...
Kristopher Nolte

Kristopher Nolte

Biochemistry B.Sc. Student
Rudolf-Virchow Center, Würzburg University
Kristopher joined the Thorn Lab as part of his bachelor thesis.
In this thesis he will refine aspects of the diagnostic tool for graphical X-Ray data analysis (AUSPEX) with the help of machine learning.

But since the corona crisis halted all our lives he contributes to the task force by using his knowledge of bioinformatics and programming to collect, organize, update all Coronavirus-relevant data from the protein data bank (PDB).

Apart from this he will investigate the proteins of SARS-CoV-2 through bioinformatic tools and will share his results on inside corona.
Luise Kandler

Luise Kandler

Biochemistry B.Sc. Student
Rudolf-Virchow Center, Würzburg University
Luise is a B.Sc. student in biochemistry, and joined the Taskforce during the Corona lockdown.

She will do a B.Sc. thesis in the Thorn lab over the summer, focussing on computer applications.

In the task force, she mainly uses her biochemical knowledge for literature research and enjoys searching the best possible visualization of molecules from the corona virus. Nevertheless, Luise currently learns Python and works with Coot to discover this new exciting world of structural refinement and crystallography.
Picture of Pairoh Seeliger

Pairoh Seeliger

probably the Unseen University (but noone really knows)
Parioh Seeliger is the (volunteer) admin wizard of the Task Force. 

She takes care of media requests, handles any logistical issues that come up and makes sure our science doesn’t sound too complicated in our German outreach efforts. She self-describes as "a jack of all trades with a University education in German studies and business administration, as well as making a mean peppermint tea".
Nicole Dörfel

Nicole Dörfel

Media designer
Nicole Dörfel ensures that we and our work are looking good! 

She is the illustrator, media designer and the artistic soul of the Task Force. She works her magic both in print and digitally - her focus is general media design. 

In the Task Force, she is mainly responsible for graphics, photo editing, design of all our promotional and outreach material. She also designed our logo.

Holger Theymann

Web programmer – a zieltraum project
Holger keeps this site running. He makes data from scientific databases appear in nice tables. He also has an eye on keeping the site fast, safe and reliable.

His experience as a software developer, systems architect, agile project manager and coach enable the task force to get the whole process well organised and he is even teaching the members how to write better blog posts. 

When he is not busy implementing our new ideas for this webpage, he instructs and coaches people on how to to achieve their goals and how to stay happy while doing so. He also invented his own method for self management.  

Right now, Holger learns a lot about structural biology - although this for once is not a goal he would have picked for himself...
Coronavirus Structural Taskforce