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Josy ter Beek

Where are you from? 
I come from Leiden in the Netherlands.

How did you get interested in science? 
There were many different things that aroused my interest in biology, physics and chemistry.

I was very curious as a child and always wanted to know why something was the way it was. I was fortunate enough to grow up in an environment that encouraged all my questions. My mother was a chemistry teacher and sometimes I went to her school where she showed cool experiments. I was also in "Professorspost". Once a year I received a small book full of facts and descriptions of fun experiments to do at home.

What is your current research area?
In my research, I study bacteria that are so small that we need a microscope to see them. They grow everywhere, including within us, in our intestines  they help us digesting food. But they can also make us sick. Fortunately, we have good medication against them, so-called antibiotics. Unfortunately, more and more bacteria are developing defense mechanisms against these drugs, so-called antibiotic resistance. Some bacteria can pass on their resistance to other bacteria via a complicated transport system. It is this system that my research focuses on.

What is some result that you think is really cool? 
I think it's really fascinating that we can now use electrons instead of light to look at the building blocks of life in even more detail under the microscope. The development of this technology was the subject of the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 2017. 

What would you like to do in the future?
I love my job and just want to keep doing exciting research and getting lots of (small) breakthroughs. These breakthroughs give so much energy and make me have the strength to continue even when things do not work out. In addition to research, I also want to continue to inspire and train young people to become researchers.

Is there any unsolved problem or topic that you would really like to take on?
If I could start with something completely new, I would like to find out why people get migraines and how we can stop it, because I and several others in my family suffer from the disease. Very little is known about migraines and the available migraine medications are actually developed for other diseases. Unfortunately, there are far too few studies of the diseases, such as migraines, that mainly affect women. But I hope that the next generation of researchers will change that!

Do you have a hobby?
I love to run through the forest or in the mountains, and started orientering when I moved to Sweden (even though I still get lost sometimes).

You can find out more about Josy on her website: https://josyterbeek.wordpress.com