Research student, chairman of the Scientific Doctoral Student Council, motorcycling enthusiast, pianist and drummer in a piping band. Sebastian Ibstedt’s solution for making enough time: Sleep fewer hours at night.
In the break room at the Department of Cell and Molecular Biology, Sebastian Ibstedt’s fellow doctoral students grin when they hear that he will be featured in Science Faculty Magazine: “Now you’ll be famous!” He smiles at them, grabs his coffee, and steps out into the spring sunshine outside.
“My colleagues probably think I’m a little eccentric,” he explains. “For example, I started practising polyphasic sleep two years ago. It involves sleeping fewer hours at night, with a few short naps in the morning. This morning I got up at four o’clock. Not much research has been carried out into the effects of polyphasic sleep on the body, so it might send me mad,” he adds with a laugh.
Sebastian certainly puts the extra time to good use. In addition to being a postgraduate student, he has also been chairman of the Scientific Doctoral Student Council since autumn 2013 and devotes much of his time to improving conditions for doctoral students.
“It’s rewarding being able to have an influence, and you learn a lot about how things work behind the scenes. One issue that I think is important is the worrying fact that many doctoral students experience unhealthy levels of stress. There’s a great deal that can be done here to improve the work situation.”
After four years studying molecular biology in Lund, Sebastian applied to the University of Gothenburg and studied physics and theology, and after completing his master’s programme in systems biology he was awarded a doctoral position at what was then the Department of Cell and Molecular Biology. He celebrated by taking his motorcycle test.
Sebastian’s research relates to yeast. He studies heavy metal toxicity from cellular and evolutionary perspectives.
“We know that many metals have a negative impact on organisms, but what actually happens within the cell is often unclear. I want to understand how the three-dimensional structure of the proteins is affected by metals and other toxins. By investigating why certain proteins are more sensitive to metals than others, we hope to learn more about what characterises sensitive proteins in other organisms and environments, too.”
He is also interested in understanding the genetic causes of the variation in sensitivity between different metals and other toxins in naturally occurring yeast strains. The evolutionary mechanisms for how variations arise in a population and mean that certain individuals are favoured is also relevant in terms of understanding how cancer cells originate.
“If there are many related objectives for this research, there are even more possible applications. These feel like meaningful questions, from both an environmental perspective and a health perspective.”