Former members

We thank all previous lab members for their contributions

Koutsouveli, Vasiliki
Dec 2013- Oct 2014: Associate Research Fellow at Center of Genomics and Bioinformatics (Universidad Mayor), Santiago, Chile. May 2015- Dec 2015: Associate Research Fellow at Hellenic Center for Marine Research (HCMR), Institute of Marine Biology, Biotechnology and Aquaculture Crete, Greece. May 2015- Dec 2015: Associate Research Fellow at Hellenic Center for Marine Research (HCMR), Institute of Marine Biology, Biotechnology and Aquaculture Crete, Greece. 2016-2020: PhD in reproductive biology of deep-sea sponges with ecological and evolutionary aspects, SponGES project. Natural History Museum, London-UK/ Uppsala University, Sweden. Since Feb 2021-Present: Postdoctoral Researcher at Geomar, Kiel.

Busch, Kathrin
PhD student 2016 - 2020 in the Hentschel lab at GEOMAR Helmholtz Centre for Ocean Research, Kiel.
Thesis: "Biodiversity of deep-sea sponge microbiomes in the ecosystem context". 2021-2022 Postdoctoral researcher leading an independent research line for data science, digital twins, data visualisation and information design for deep-sea sponge microbiomes at GEOMAR Helmholtz Centre for Ocean Research, Kiel. Since December 2022 Research Fellowship at the Bedford Institute of Oceanography in Halifax/Canada. More information at:


Emery, Clara
M.Sc. Bio-informatics and Genomics. PhD student 2019-2022 at GEOMAR Helmholtz Centre for Ocean Research Kiel): A machine-learning approach for detection of mobile replicons in metagenomics. Helmholtz School for Marine Data Science (MarDATA), a proposal for a Helmholtz graduate school on information & data science. Current position: Förde Digital GmbH, Kiel. Research interests: Machine learning, deep learning, Development of new algorithms, Metagenomics from ocean, Marine biology, Open source, collaborative work

Slaby, Beate
PhD student 2013-2017 at the Graduate School of Life Sciences of the University of Würzburg (2015-2017 located at GEOMAR Helmholtz Centre for Ocean Research Kiel). Thesis: "Exploring the microbiome of the Mediterranean sponge Aplysina aerophoba by single-cell and metagenomics". 2017-2019: Postdoc in the Horizon 2020 EU project SponGES. 2019-2022: Postdoc and coordinator of program-oriented funding (POF) IV Topic 6 at GEOMAR. RESEARCH FOCUS: 'Omics' of uncultured microorganisms, interaction of microbes with marine sponges, bioinformatic methods. Since May 2022: Research coordinator for Helmholtz program-oriented funding in the GEOMAR directorate.

Clefsen, Ina
Ina started working as a technician in our RU Marine Symbiosis in August 2017. Her main areas of laboratory activity & methods were:
- microbiology: incl. isolation and cultivation of different bacteria and sponges
- Amplicon Pipeline, PCR amplification, sequence analysis
- Methods molecular biology: DNA Extraction, Gel Elektrophorese, PCR. Since July 2022 she is working at the UKSH Kiel: Hämatologie Labor Kiel der Klinik für Innere Medizin II

Schmittmann, Lara

PhD student 2018 - 2021 at GEOMAR Helmholtz Centre for Ocean Research, Kiel, within the International Max-Planck Research School for Evolutionary Biology. Thesis: "Establishing the breadcrumb sponge Halichondria panicea as an experimental model for sponge symbioses" carried out in the Hentschel lab, GEOMAR, Kiel. January 2022 - June 2022: Postdoctoral Researcher in the Deep-Sea Biology Group at GEOMAR (RD3, RU EV, Advisor: Henk-Jan Hoving). Since April 2022: Postdoctoral Researcher at GEOMAR Helmholtz Centre for Ocean Research, Kiel, Research Division 1: Ocean Circulation and Climate Dynamics, RU Dynamics of ocean circulation (Advisor: Prof. Arne Biastoch). The project aims at understanding how marine diseases disperse with ocean currents.


Pita, Lucia
April 2018-September 2021: GEOMAR postdoctoral researcher/Group leader. October 2017-March 2018: CRC1182 postdoctoral researcher. June 2015-September 2017 Alexander von Humboldt postdoctoral fellowship. CURRENT POSITION: “La Caixa “ Junior group leader at the Institute of Marine Science (ICM-CSIC), Barcelona, Spain. RESEARCH FOCUS: The molecular mechanisms of animal-microbe-environment interactions, with particular attention to animal immunity. Investigating sponges to find the toolkit that allows animals to engage in microbial conversations in a changing environment.

Roik, Anna
Postdoc 2017–2021. Project PI of ‘The coral microbiome Project’, ‘Future Ocean‘ DFG Cluster of Excellence Fellow. Since March 2021 Microbiome Ecologist at Helmholtz Institute for Functional Marine Biodiversity University of Oldenburg (HIFMB)
RESEARCH FOCUS Microbiomes, molecular ecology and ecophysiology, shallow-water corals physiological plasticity and stress responses, deep-sea corals physiological plasticity, ecosystem functioning of coral reefs and abiotic-biotic interactions, 16S amplicon profiling

Jahn, Martin Thomas
PhD student 2015 - 2019 Graduate School of Life Sciences (University of Würzburg & Helmholtz Centre for Ocean Research GEOMAR Kiel). Thesis: "Physiology, syntrophy and viral interplay in the marine sponge holobiont" carried out in the Hentschel lab, GEOMAR, Kiel. Since February 2020: Postdoctoral researcher at the Zoology & Biochemistry departments, University of Oxford. RESEARCH FOCUS Bioinformatics, Imaging, Molecular Biology and Microbiology

Sottorff Neculhueque, Ignacio

PhD student 2015-2019. Ignacio studied marine biotechnology with a specialization in natural products chemistry in the Universidad de Concepcion, Chile (2009). Then, he moved to California, USA, to undertake a MSc. for Marine Chemical-Biology at SIO working for Prof. Dr. William Fenical. He continued his education in marine microbiology and natural products with a DAAD-project at GEOMAR Kiel supervised by Prof. Dr. Johannes F. Imhoff. Current position: Lab head of Trace Organic Chemicals in the Environment / Prof. Dr.-Ing. Jörg E. Drewes, Chair of Urban Water Systems Engineering Technical University of Munich. 


Wu, Yu-Chen
PhD Student 2015-2019 Hentschel lab, GEOMAR, Kiel
Since 2020: Projectmanagement Biotechnology at CRM-Coastal Research & Management, Kiel
RESEARCH FOCUS Molecular biology, biotechnology

Batani, Giampiero  
PhD student 2017-2019. His Ph.D. thesis was carried out in the lab of Prof. Torsten Thomas at the University of New South Wales, Sydney, Australia and in Prof. Ute Hentschel Humeida’s lab at GEOMAR Kiel.: Fluorescence in situ hybridisation for the localisation and culturing of marine bacteria. Current position: Postdoc in the group of Dr. Rino Rappuoli at Fondazione Toscana Life Sciences in Siena.


Franke, Andrea
Postdoc 2017-2019. Sept. 2019–Dec 2019: Project manager  EU project "EuroSea" GEOMAR Kiel. March 2017–Dec 2018: Scientific coordinator Strategic Research Initiative "Ocean Health" Cluster of Excellence "The Future Ocean" GEOMAR Kiel. Current position: Fisheries and Marine Biologist at Helmholtz Institute for Functional Marine Biodiversity University of Oldenburg (HIFMB)

Rix, Laura
Postdoc 2016-2018
Current position: Postdoctoral Research Fellow at the School of Chemistry and Molecular Biosciences, The University of Queensland, Australia
RESEARCH FOCUS Role of microbial symbionts in sponge tolerance to environmental change

Horn, Hannes
PhD student Graduate School of Life Sciences (University of Würzburg) 2013 - 2017
PhD student Geomar Helmholtz Centre for Ocean Research Department of Marine Microbiology 2015-2016
Supervisor: Prof. U. Hentschel. Thesis: "Analysis and interpretation of (meta-) genomic data from host-associated microorganisms"
Current position: Senior Bioinformatician | Data Scientist Molecular Health GmbH, Heidelberg, Deutschland
RESEARCH FOCUS Bioinformatics, Microbiology

Cheng Cheng
PhD student Graduate School of Life Sciences (University of Würzburg) 2012-2016. Since March 2018 patent professional at Prüfer & Partner and is undergoing training as a European Patent Attorney. Accordingly, Cheng mainly handles patent prosecution and opposition matters before the European Patent Office RESEARCH FOCUS Pharmaceuticals, Biotechnology, Biochemistry, Medicinal chemistry, Metabolomics, Immunology, Natural products


Moitinho e Silva, Lucas
PhD student 2010-2014 Universität Würzburg / Thesis: Exploration of microbial diversity and function in Red Sea sponges by deep sequencing
Scientist: Institute of Clinical Molecular Biology (IKMB), Kiel University
RESEARCH FOCUS Microbial diversity and function

Kamke, Janine
PhD student 2009-2013 University of Würzburg / Thesis: Investigation of the diversity, abundance and vertical transmission of bacteria in marine sponges. Current position: marine and coastal water quality scientist at Waikato Regional Council, Hamilton, New Zealand

Hildebrandt, Eva
PhD-Student 2009-2013 Universität Würzburg / Thesis: The influence of trichomes and cuticular lipids on Arabidopsis thaliana leaf-associated bacterial communitiesInitiative Junge Forscherinnen und Forscher e.V., Würzburg

Glöckner, Volker
Deputy Chairman of the Würzburg District Group BUND Naturschutz in Bayern E.V., IT Manager BUND Naturschutz Marketing GmbH 91207 Lauf

Tabares, Paula
PhD-student 2007-2011 Universität Würzburg. After finishing her studies in Chemistry in Colombia, she moved to Germany 2007 for her PhD studies under the supervision of Prof. Ute Hentschel- Thesis: identification of marine sponge derived secondary metabolites with immunological activity. Since May 2018 Paula joined the Experimental Stem Cell Transplantation Laboratory as postdoctoral fellow, the Beilhack Lab, IZKF Forschergruppe für Experimentelle Stammzelltransplantation, Zentrum für Experimentelle Molekulare Medizin ZEMM – Würzburg, Germany

Angermeier, Hilde Gabriele
PhD-Student 2007-2011 Graduate School of Life Sciences University of Würzburg - Thesis: "Molecular and ecological investigations of Caribbean sponge diseases". 2016-2018 (after a postgraduate Master's degree in International Health): Robert Koch Institute. 2018-2020 ECDC’s European Public Health Microbiology training program at Institut Pasteur in Paris, France. Since October 2020 part of the human virology unit at the department for Public Health Microbiology of the Bavarian health SARS-CoV-2 diagnostics


Abdelmohsen, Usama Ramadan
PhD-Student 2006-2010 Universität Würzburg / Thesis Antimicrobial Activities from Plant Cell Cultures and Marine Sponge-Associated Actinomycetes
Current position: Associate professor Minia University, Al Minyā, Egypt, Department of Pharmacognosy
RESEARCH FOCUS Marine natural products against viral and bacterial infections

Dr. Naseem, Muhammad
PhD student University of Wuerzburg, Germany 2009. Thesis:  Molecular Plant Physiology “The role of cytokinins in plant immunity”. Current Positio since 2018: Assistant Professor Department of Life & Environmental Sciences, College of Natural and Health Sciences, Zayed University Abu Dhabi. RESEARCH FOCUS Biological Concepts, Signal Transduction, Stress Physiology, Host-Pathogen Interactions, Environment and Sustainability, Network Biology, Systems Biology and Bioinformatics

Siegl, Alexander Matthias
PhD student 2005-2009 Julius-von-Sachs-Institut für Biowissenschaften University of Würzburg. Thesis: Single cell based methods for the characterization of sponge-associated bacteria. Since 2018 Freelance microbiological consultant, resident in Seeg im Allgäu (VAT ID No.: DE326358490). Since 2019 Microbiologist R&D at optiferm GmbH in Oy-Mittelberg

Pimentel-Elardo Sheila
PhD student 2004-2008 University of Würzburg, Thesis: Novel anti-infective secondary metabolites and biosynthetic gene clusters from actinomycetes associated with marine sponges (2008). Since 2010 Research Associate at NODWELL LAB, Department of Biochemistry, University of Toronto, Canada
RESEARCH FOCUS Marine natural products and the microbiome of marine invertebrates

Bayer, Kristina
PhD-Student 2004-2008 University of Würzburg
Thesis: Physiology, phylogeny and metagenomic analyses of ammonia-oxidizing bacteria and archaea in the Mediterranean sponge Aplysina aerophoba. Current position since 2015: Senior research scientist at GEOMAR, Marine Symbiosis. RESEARCH FOCUS Sponge-Microbe Symbiosis, Quantification and Visualization of Microorganisms, Symbiont Function, Microbial Genomics, FACS-Sorting.



Thoms, Carsten
Postdoctoral Researcher 2007–2008 University of Wuerzburg, Research Center for Infectious Diseases (ZINF)
Since May 2017 Head of the Strategic Research Management at Otto-von-Guericke-University Magdeburg
RESEARCH FOCUS Marine biodiversity, marine ecology, marine natural products research, coral reefs

Kozytskaya, Svetlana
Postdoctoral researcher 2005-2007 University of Würzburg:  Anti-biofilm from marine sponge associated microorganisms

Grozdanov, Lubomir
2004 Doctorate University of Würzburg. Postdoctoral Researcher 2004–2007 University of Würzburg: Metagenomic approaches to secondary metabolite discovery.
2007-2009 R&D diary Microbiologist. Since 2009 working in clinical research.


Scheuermayer, Matthias       
PhD student 2002-2006 University of Würzburg. Thesis Phylogeny, Secondary Metabolism and Biotechnological Potential of Marine, Sponge-Associated Microorganisms

Wehrl, Markus
Phd student 2002-2006 University of Würzburg. Thesis: Bacterial uptake, selectivity and internal processing of marine sponges (Porifera) Universität Würzburg
Current position: Head of Department, Department of Hygiene and Microbiology, wfk - Cleaning Technology Institute e.V., Krefeld,



Fieseler, Lars
2005 Doctorate University of Würzburg. Lecturer and researcher in food microbiology at ZHAW School of Life Sciences and Facility Management, Switzerland. Since 2013 Professor for Food Safety and Quality, since 2011 Head of the Microbiology Unit at the Institute for Food and Beverage Innovation (ILGI) of the ZHAW. RESEARCH FOCUS Food Microbiology, Isolation and characterization of bacteriophages, pathogens and spoilage bacteria, biocontrol, detection of food borne pathogens


Christine Gernert
Tine started working as a technician in October 1998 when Ute Hentschel came back from the US and started her own research group at the University of Würzburg. She helped to set up the research group and established novel methods in the new research field of sponge microbiology. Until our movement to Kiel in 2015, she literally was the backbone of the working group. Tine works now in the group of Prof. Dr. Bernhard Schuldt at the Department of Botany II - Ecophysiology and Vegetation Ecology, Würzburg.