Meet Tim Zeiske, Head of Data Science, Innovation & Automation Lipids

29.11.2022 · 4 min. read

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Q&A with Tim Zeiske, Head of Data Science, Innovation & Automation Lipids

Hi Tim, tell us a little about your background

I got my undergrad in Biophysics & Biochemistry at Humboldt University in Berlin and the Univeristé Paris VII. After that I moved to the United States for my PhD in Biochemistry and Molecular Biophysics at Columbia University, NY. 

My project was a mix of computational and experimental work, which meant I spent about half my time in the wet lab and the other half in the dry lab. During my PhD I focused on examining protein and DNA structures and how proteins bind to DNA using a combination of computational and experimental methods including X-ray crystallography, NMR spectroscopy and Molecular Dynamics simulations.

After finishing my PhD, I founded a number of successful data-centric software companies and worked as a data scientist and software developer in the US, Germany, Spain and Asia for about four years, prior to joining Insempra. 

What brought you to Insempra? 

Climate change has always been on my mind and during my PhD I had actively been looking for ways to make a real impact with my skill set. I actually even started an online shop for palm-oil-free products, after understanding the detrimental impact palm oil has on the environment. 

While exploring what to do after graduating, I went to a university event on non-academic careers for scientists, where I met Shashwat Vajpeyi. We agreed on the spot that the non-academic careers the event was presenting (mainly in finance) were not the way we wanted to go and started discussing ideas together. Shashwat later became co-founder of our start-up Carbocycle together with Melanie Valencia.

After working on our concept, we introduced CarboCycle at the 2016 Columbia venture competition, where we won the first prize in the “Global Technology Challenge” category. That really was the kick-off for the pilot project at the University, which we launched by fermenting the University cafeteria food waste.

Tim Zeiske (left) and Shashwat Vajpeyi (second from the left) accepting first prize in the Global Technology Challenge

When Covid broke in 2020, I was travelling in Asia and ended up taking one of the last flights out back to Berlin, where during lockdown, Max Mundt, Insempra’s VP of Business Development and I met virtually, via an introduction through a common friend in the Berlin Startup scene. That was when the first conversations started about collaborating with Insempra and bringing our technology into an environment, where we could actually scale it to an industrial level. In early 2021 Insempra acquired CarboCycle, which led Melanie, Shashwat and I to move to Munich from Ecuador, India/New York and Berlin to continue our work together. 

What’s your role at Insempra now?

Originally, I started by setting up the Insempra lab and lab processes. Now that we are up and running, I am more focussed on reviewing the experimental data we generate by collecting and analyzing any data that we generate in-house or with external partners to help develop new strategies and experiments and build predictive models. I also work on improving the efficiency of the day-to-day in the lab by automating lab and analytical processes via custom software that I developed, which allows our scientists to enter and analyze data from our fermentations. 

Which company values resonate with you the most?

I love that we can be innovative and creative and that we have really been able to develop a platform at Insempra to turn our big ideas into reality – working on something that I truly believe has the potential to change the world. 

What’s unique about working for our organization?

Being surrounded by smart minds, to be able to bounce ideas off each other – with scientists who are bold and not afraid to challenge the status quo and take risks. There’s a lot of freedom to try out new ideas, which is pretty unique. 

What’s the most exciting thing you are working on right now?

I’m actually working on a number of really exciting things at the moment… Our team is currently creating software solutions that improve the day-to-day work of my colleagues in the lab, which is very rewarding. 

Thank you Tim! 
If you have any questions for Tim, reach out to him via LinkedIn

Posted by Nicole Laurence

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