Principal investigator

Picture of Michael Westberg

Michael Westberg

Assistant Professor

PhD in Biophysical Chemistry

I am a biophysical chemist fascinated by the interplay between proteins, small molecules, and light. My research aims at understanding and controlling these molecular interactions to design protein-based tools with new functions and applications in chemical and synthetic biology. In 2013, I received a MSc degree (Fulbright scholarship) from the University of Chicago after working on mapping ultrafast energy transfer of light-harvesting complexes with Greg Engel. In 2017, under supervision of Peter R. Ogilby, I received my PhD in biophysical chemistry from Aarhus University. During my PhD studies, I continued my focus on photoactive proteins and redesigned plant photoreceptors to create efficient singlet oxygen photosensitizing proteins that have found use in several chemical biology applications. From 2018 to 2022, I was a Novo Nordisk Foundation visiting postdoctoral scholar in the labs of Possu Huang and Michael Z. Lin at Stanford Bio-X, Stanford University. Here I broadened my skillset in protein engineering and chemical biology. Particularly, I used computational protein design to design optogenetic tools and develop small protease inhibitors as antiviral drugs. With this interdisciplinary background and a Villum Young Investigator grant, I am establishing a multidisciplinary research group at Aarhus University. Our lab will use protein design to explore intricate molecular mechanisms and create new tools in basic science and technology.

Current team

We are recruiting at all levels! See below.

MSc students

Pending profile picture

Gessica Panzardi

Erasmus+ master student

Open positions

What we offer

By joining a new lab, you will receive attentive and firsthand mentoring. We strive to build a diverse team and a culture of team science - succeeding together is vital for the lab. Your learning is paramount, and our projects allow you to gain expertise in both experimental techniques and computational methods.

The lab is located at the Department of Chemistry and is affiliated with the Interdisciplinary Nanoscience Center (iNANO) at Aarhus University. Within these facilities, and via collaborators all within the centrally located campus in Aarhus, we have access to a diverse collection of state-of-the-art equipment needed to perform our interdisciplinary science. This also provides a strong local community and networking opportunities for aspiring scientists. For example, we take active part in the AU Structural Biology & Biophysics Initiative and participate in cross-departmental interest groups.

Prospective PhD students and Postdocs

We are actively recruiting PhD students and postdoctoral scholars.

We are looking for individuals with an interdisciplinary mindset, a passion for learning, and preferably experience in chemical biology, biophysics, biochemistry, molecular biology, molecular medicine, neurobiology, biotechnology, nanoscience or related fields within physics, chemistry, and biology. If interested in working with us, send a brief email to Michael stating your research interests and attach your CV.

Specific calls

The call for a PhD position for the project "Design of chemoswitchable binders" in now online with a deadline of 1/8/24.

Don’t hesitate to reach out for other roles.

MSc Students
We are continuously recruiting MSc students from chemistry, nanoscience, biotechnology, molecular biology, and molecular medicine programs at Aarhus University for short-term (10-20 ECTS) projects or MSc thesis projects. We also accept international exchange students incl. ERASMUS+ students, preferably for a period of at least 3 months. In all cases, contact Michael to learn more.

BSc Students

BSc students are generally recruited in the fall through the departmental BSc student placement processes. BSc students from chemistry, nanoscience, biotechnology, molecular biology, and molecular medicine programs at Aarhus University are always welcome to contact Michael to learn more about the group.