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Staff Scientists

Staff scientists collaborate with research groups to devise innovative solutions to research questions.

Staff scientists

Staff scientists are fully trained researchers who provide domain-specific skills, expertise and experience not usually present within research groups. Staff scientist positions at ISTA are independent of a particular research group, and thus staff scientists are free and encouraged to work with any research group and Scientific Service Unit (SSU) on campus. They are administratively associated with an SSU and often assist in the development of the respective SSU. Their support and collaboration with research groups is critical to the success of numerous projects at ISTA because of their ability to devise innovative solutions to research questions. In addition, their continued presence prevents the loss of knowledge as other scientists leave the Institute and accounts for the stability of institutional structures.

Staff scientists receive a fixed-length contract at the beginning of their employment and are evaluated after five years. If successful, staff scientists may receive permanent contracts. Staff scientists on campus have diverse backgrounds and focus on different research topics, but are united in their curiosity and creativity, their openness to collaboration, and their desire to find effective solutions to scientific or technical problems.

Current Staff Scientist on Campus


Mary Muhia

Mary Muhia collaborates with various groups at ISTA to offer expertise in designing and implementing behavioral studies in animal models. She develops and establishes rodent paradigms to evaluate behavioral functions, including motivation and emotion, cognition, and sensory processes.
Mary ( is affiliated with the Preclinical Facility.


Daniel Balázs

Structure exploration can aid researchers in shedding light on reaction and degradation mechanisms, the behavior of complex systems, or the details of intra- and intermolecular forces, provided the experiments are designed for the task. He advises research groups on such experimental designs, performs in situ measurements and analyzes X-ray scattering/X-ray diffraction data for multiple research groups, mostly in the physical sciences.
Daniel ( is affiliated with the Lab Support Facility.


Walter Kaufmann

When scientists at ISTA are interested in applying electron microscopy in their work but are unsure how to go about it—for instance, what techniques to use or which analysis to employ—they talk to Walter Kaufmann.
Walter ( is affiliated with the Electron Microscopy Facility.


Peter Koppensteiner

Peter Koppensteiner collaborates with numerous research groups on campus, offering experimental and theoretical expertise on a wide range of physiology-related questions. His methodological repertoire comprises both functional and structural techniques in acute brain slice preparations, such as patch clamp recordings (often in combination with opto- and chemogenetics) and “Flash and Freeze” electron microscopy. Importantly, Peter supports the development of cutting-edge physiology techniques at ISTA, such as “Flash and Freeze-fracture” (Shigemoto group) or “MADM-Cloneseq” (Hippenmeyer group).
Peter ( is affiliated with the Preclinical Facility.


Christoph Sommer

Christoph Sommer is an expert in image analysis, especially in creating software to automate image analysis. His work focuses on the interface of computer science and biology, where he develops and establishes new technology for computer-aided image and video analyses.
At the moment Christoph is not available for hosting internships.
Christoph ( is affiliated with the Imaging & Optics Facility.


Jack Merrin

Microfluidics involves the experimental manipulation of fluids and objects, such as live cells, at small-length scales. Staff scientist Jack Merrin develops novel and innovative systems to study diverse biophysical phenomena together with various groups at ISTA.

At ISTA, I make microchips to study cells and organisms from bacteria, yeast, immune cells, zebrafish, Arabidopsis, and C elegans. The well-equipped cleanroom makes this possible. Life as a staff scientist is dynamic because I frequently start new challenges and projects.

Jack ( is affiliated with the Nanofabrication Facility.


Robert Hauschild

Robert Hauschild brings expertise in imaging, optical engineering, automation, and image analysis to ISTA. He collaborates with scientists from different fields to develop innovative solutions for unique microscopy problems, including designing and building new equipment and software.

I develop, build and modify experimental setups for all scientists who want to use optical imaging, microscopy or spectroscopy in their research. I also write software to help them analyze and understand their images better and automate the data acquisition.
What has always helped me in my work is the capacity to communicate and translate messages across people with different backgrounds: to grasp the problem, find ways in which I can help, and explain my ideas and solutions to everyone involved. This was instrumental when I set up the Imaging and Optics Facility at ISTA, and pervades my daily work as a staff scientist. By building and modifying microscopes, automating workflows and image acquisition/analysis, I can help other scientists perform their dream experiments. Providing them with tools that enable them to do the science, they could otherwise not have—that is what I love about my work.

Robert ( is affiliated with the Imaging & Optics Facility.


Satish Arcot Jayaram

Satish Arcot Jayaram is experienced in providing comprehensive support to research groups that would like to apply the technology of genome engineering to generate transgenic rodents. He likes to collaborate with labs that perform comparative genomics, especially for genes of unknown function.

I think that with everyday challenges and a nourishing environment, life as a staff scientist at ISTA is exciting with creative thoughts.”

Satish ( is affiliated with the Preclinical Facility.

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