Meet Team MSP

The Maastricht Science Programme (MSP) at Maastricht University (UM) is a multidisciplinary bachelor's programme with a focus on scientific research: students are thought how to design and perform experiments, collect and analyze data, present results to the scientific community and, most importantly, how to 'live the lab life' by engaging in multiple projects carried out by the many research groups within the university. Beyond that, students choose what field of science they want to specialize in by creating a fully personalized curriculum from a wide array of courses spanning all of the natural sciences. This approach to education creates a learning environment where students with interests in and knowledge of different fields of science come together and collaborate in a truly interdisciplinary manner. This year eleven of the most creative students from MSP decided to team up with the goal of joining (and winning!) the iGEM competition for the first time in the history of UM! In this page you can get acquainted with our team of talented students and supervising professors.
team member image Name

Abraham Grosman

Field of study Biotechnology & Biogerontology 

Abraham is a third year, Mexican/Polish student at the Maastricht Science Programme. He has pondered science since a wee babe, and he has noticed that his life will be too short to be able to study and comprehend everything he would like to. Therefore, Abraham is very interested in the nature of aging and why nature goes from a chaotic universe of  disorder to the complex order that is life and why this life must expire so quickly, in the blink of an eye to the universe. Abraham essentially wants to study everything, but he found that the best way to get close to this goal would be to study aging (biogerontology), by applying his knowledge of different subjects like quantum mechanics to understand the possibility of random mutations in DNA, or how to electrospin polymer scaffolds to reinforce a heart to pump stronger and healthier, all to slow down aging but at the same time learn from more subjects broadening his perspective. Abraham likes to dream big, but he knows by preventing aging many issues will come but by broadening one’s perspective as wide as one can, humanity can push forward.

 Enjoys playing Ukulele and attempting to sing, dancing to any music is a passion


Ruben Tammaro

Field of study Molecular and Computational Biology and Neuroscience

Ruben is a second year, Italian student at the Maastricht Science Programme. Through the course of his life, Ruben has grown to become deeply fascinated by the extremely complex yet beautifully harmonious architecture of Nature. The fact that everything that exists and that he can perceive is merely a finely-balanced combination of atoms interacting with and reacting to each other puzzles him completely every time he stops and ponders about it which, to the detriment of his productivity, happens quite too often. It is this mixture of curiosity, wonder and respect for Nature that has led him to choose a career in science: if he can contribute even slightly to advancing humanity's understanding of the almost paradoxical process through which Matter organizes itself to create Life in all of its forms, then he can consider himself to be happy. 

From time to time he likes to throw, smash and spray paint on top of things in an effort to make those objects more beautiful. Usually the opposite result is achieved but he still enjoys the cathartic process that comes with it :) 


Julian Schneider

Field of study Biology

Julian is a second year student at the Maastricht Science Programme. He is from Germany and took a gap year in New Zealand. He then decided to come to Maastricht to study. He has many interests, with the biggest two being science and politics. Because science, and especially Biology, was more fun during high school, he decided to study Biology in all facettes at MSP. He still follows his other interest currently being a member of the Permanent Delegation of the United Nations Student Association Maastricht. Although his future after MSP is still completely unclear, he hopes to be able to follow up with a multidisciplinary master combining science and politics. In the MSP iGEM team he hopes to discover new perspectives on synthetic biology, its applications and its societal implications.

Selling oil paintings door to door on the other side of the world? Been there, done that.


Amelie Brunner

Field of study Molecular Biology and Microbiology

Growing up, Amelie was always running around in the forest observing and documenting the wildlife. This raised a lot of questions in her mind that needed to be answered. Her curiosity went on when she first encountered genetic fingerprinting in 8th grade, giving insight in the world on a whole new level. She instantly knew she wanted to answer all her questions on a molecular base and figure out what holds the world together in the innermost. Which lead her to MSP, where she could choose flexible out of a range of courses. Her main focus lays in the field of biology like microbiology, toxicology, genetics and molecular biology. But also chemistry and mathematics. Gaining a broader scientific knowledge, giving a base to pursue her career in the interdisciplinary field of optogenetics. The opportunity to participate in iGEM helps her to develop her skills and bringing her closer to the goal of becoming a scientist.

Besides microbes, Amelie has a fascination for curiosities like exotic beetles. She also teaches herself how to tattoo with her golden skull tattoo machine.


Lucie Chenain

Field of study Neuroscience, Biology, Mathematics 

While growing up, Lucie asked a lot of questions about the nature and phenomena of the world surrounding her. This curiosity and will to understand the way the world functions lead her to subscribe to scientific magazines for kids that she would read over and over. Fascinated by the human mind and body, she decided to come to MSP and focus on neuroscience and biology, with a bit of mathematics in the middle. She took the synthetic biology course and discovered a fascinating interdisciplinary field that offered an alternative way to tackle current issues and scientific challenges. In her eyes, the field is a revolutionary new way of thinking.  With her desire to be useful by working for a scientific social matter and progress in science, Lucie was eager to be a part of the MSP iGEM team. In the future, she intends to specialise in the field of neurobiology and cognitive neurosciences. 

Lucie is a massive sudoku player who only wears glitter socks and finds beauty in weird spoons. 


Anne Birke

Field of study Biomedical sciences, Biotechnology

Anne was always passionate about discovering biological processes and therefore she became a bachelor student at the Maastricht Science Programme. Here she is specializing in the field of biomedical sciences. She is highly interested in the combination of biotechnology and genetics to get an insight into the development of approaches to solve the puzzles of autoimmune diseases, but also microbiological organisms attract her attention. Furthermore, she likes a structured workflow and to plan and organise projects. In the iGEM team, she appreciates the exchange of ideas and knowledge between the group members and is very excited to go on the “iGEM journey” with her team, by doing research together and meeting other teams from all over the world.

Anne likes to race against time. Whether if it’s on her racing/mountain bike or by working at the ambulance service caring for patients until they arrive at the hospital.


Elle Bethune

Field of study Synthetic and Astrobiology

Elle has had an obsession with space for as long as she can remember. Elle grew up in rural New Zealand before moving to Edinburgh, Scotland at age 15, and has always tailored her studies towards science. She chose to study at MSP because of the flexibility and range of courses that were on offer, believing that a broader scientific background is essential before specialisation. Although she has taken a range of courses in biology, chemistry and mathematics, she is still as determined as ever to pursue a career in astrobiology and eventually, to become an astronaut and go to space. Since beginning at MSP, Elle has developed an interest in applying the tools of synthetic biology to the field of astrobiology and believes her experience with the iGEM team will give her the necessary experience to do this. 

Elle grew up surrounded by cats, dogs, chickens, sheep, cows and horses, and has acquired quite a few horse-related injuries, including a titanium ankle. She has fostered over 86 shelter kittens so far, but her cat Mr Spock will always be her favourite.


Stan Goertz

Field of study Molecular Biology, Ecology

Stan has a passion for anything that lives, let it be big and fluffy or small and also fluffy. After being done exploring the macro-organisms, Stan considered it is time to focus on microbiology. He started taking a look at bacteria by identifying the nitrification cycle in his aquarium and found out the many interesting ways these microbes can be used for research. Combining his high school love of genetics with the newly obtained passion for his findings under the microscope, lead to Stan discovering synthetic biology. The iGEM project was the chance for him to kickstart his recently acquired passion sky-high.  He firmly believes that the future of science is found in synthetic biology and can not wait to get the project started.

Even though Stan was born as a premature baby of not even 2 kg, he currently STANds 1.96 tall


Flóra Kovács 

Field of study Human physiology, Microbiology

When Flora learnt how baking powder rises the cake in the oven, she discovered that she had a passion for sciences and she enrolled to the Maastricht Science Programme in order to encounter questions and to find the answers herself. Her main interests lie in the advances in biotechnology, the future of medicine and human biology on a cellular level. Exploring the biological systems of the body from the nervous to the immune and endocrine system with its diseases is her fundamental interest. She took a course called Synthetic Biology which she barely knew it existed until she caught herself genetically modifying organisms and making bacteria do “funny things” in the lab. Driven by the past lab experiences, courses taken and the immense possibilities of Synthetic Biology, she decided to join the iGEM competition. She is enthusiastic about working in a team, loves discussing the latest scientific findings and reading articles related to her field of interests.

Flora grew up watching The Magic School Bus and How it’s made on Discovery channel. No wonders where her curiosity to explore science comes from, not to mention her series addiction. In her free time she loves experimenting in the kitchen with cooking and baking.


Fenna Kadir

Field of Study Molecular Biology, Mathematics, Programming

Fascinated by genetics and synthetic biology, Fenna knew she had to be a part of the 2019 iGEM team. iGEM presents a unique opportunity to learn new skills, experience working on a more long-term project and hopefully help the world in a small way. Now working together with this amazing group of talented diverse people, her excitement has only increased. Some of her main interests are genomics and transcriptomics, because of the endless possibilities it brings. And how our (future) knowledge in those areas will hopefully improve people’s lives.

Loves painting and drawing even though she is terrible at it


Justyna Piotrowska

Field of study Molecular Biology, Regenerative Medicine

Justyna has a passion for detail, especially when it comes to cells. One of her main interests are cell signaling processes, particularly in stem cells. The other interest is the pathology of diseases, especially the contagious infections. She is very enthusiastic about both fields which makes it difficult for her to decide which path to follow in the future. Studying at Maastricht Science Programme gave her an opportunity to postpone the “big decision”. In the IGEM group, she finds the most intriguing parts of science: the brainstorming and solving riddles during stimulating conversations with a group of friends

Even though she was paralyzed until she was 6 months old, Justyna’s biggest love in life and main activity is climbing and hiking in the mountains. If she had the power to transport MSP to a small village, high in the Alps, she would not hesitate to do so.