Field: Chemistry / Immunology
Organisation: School of Chemical and Physical Sciences, Victoria University of Wellington
Dr Mattie Timmer is a lecturer at Victoria University of Wellington (VUW) in the School of Chemical and Physical Sciences. He leads the VUW arm of Immunoglycomics.
In science, you develop the skills to find all the answers to all the questions that you ever had.
Like many teenagers at school, Mattie had his ‘wayward’ moments but he was fortunate to have a couple of good teachers who recognised his potential and put him on the right path! Having overcome this ‘exploratory’ phase of life, Mattie’s passion for problem-solving returned. When he left school, he enrolled in a chemistry degree at Leiden University (The Netherlands, where he lived). He enjoyed the challenge of exploring the structures of molecules. Mattie’s fascination with the molecular structure of carbohydrates in particular led him to complete an MSc and later a PhD at Leiden University. Following this, he went to Switzerland, where he met Dr Bridget Stocker who informed him that New Zealand was a great place to be. Mattie obtained firstly a postdoctoral position at VUW, then an academic position 1 year later.
Mattie has always had an interest in organic chemistry, in particular, carbohydrate chemistry. He enjoys developing new synthetic strategies that can be used to prepare molecules in ‘better’ and novel ways. He enjoys investigating the use of these molecules in the treatment and understanding of diseases such as cancer, asthma and tuberculosis. In collaboration with Dr Bridget Stocker, he runs the VUW arm of the VUW/MIMR Immunoglycomics programme.
Mattie is responsible for developing and overseeing research projects of students, teaching at the university, giving research presentations, writing grant applications and preparing manuscripts for publication. The area of work he likes the most relates to problem-solving. He also really enjoys spending time in the laboratory when his schedule permits.
He also enjoys bird watching and hiking – and of course, being Dutch, cycling is a must (along with beer and cheese!).
This article is based on information current in 2010.