One of my earliest scientific questions asked at the age of four was “Dad, can I reach the Moon by climbing up a super long ladder?”. My dad, an experimental physicist, smiled and started telling me a story about the Universe. The passion for scientific stories and home-based experiments developed my curiosity and inquisitiveness into science. Constant questions “why” and “how”, brought me to a decision that I want to become a scientist, hence I continue my journey in academia.

Research

My scientific interest includes biochemical and biophysical aspects of lipid metabolism. My research enables me to investigate lipids organization on the molecular and cellular levels as well as their interaction with proteins. Results acquired by biochemical approaches enable me to understand the premier step of the phospholipid synthesis pathway on a molecular level. Additionally, my biophysical studies revealed detailed descriptions of lipid and lipid-protein organization in plasma membrane on the cellular level. Besides, the development of microscopy approaches and analysis methods brought tools, which can be broadly exploited in the lipid field study on the scale from the single molecular level through the single cell towards the entire organism.

Several years, which I have spent in bio-laboratories in Europe, Australia, and North America brought unforgettable experiences and memories into my academic and personal life. My projects required building up the skills related to the scientific performance as well as the organization including 1) designing and performing experiments, 2) application of biochemical and biophysical methods including chromatography, microscopy, and spectroscopy approaches, 3) data acquisition and analysis and 4) data presentation. From a personal perspective, I obtained confidence in precise message delivery, collaboration, solving strategic issues, proposing potential solutions, time and task management, budget management as well as propagating teamwork.

My future path is directly related to continuing my career in academia. Through my research experience, I became a competitive scientist and the skills and knowledge that I have gained will open doors for starting an independent research career.

Post doctoral Research

Being trained as a biophysicist, I have decided to gain a better understanding of the molecular mechanism of lipid homeostasis and lipid based diseases. Hence, I joined Dr. Carman laboratory at Rutgers University for my post doctoral training where I learned principles of enzymology and biochemistry. Conducting research at the outstanding research environment at Rutgers University also gives me the opportunity to teach and mentor undergraduate students in the laboratory. The major goal of my postdoctoral project is to investigate the interaction of the Pah1 PAP, with phospholipid membranes. To achieve this goal I established and optimized the assay which employs liposomes to mimic biological membranes.

Pah1 PAP activity depends on the bulk concentration of PA and phospholipid composition of liposomes
Kwiatek & Carman, 2020

Pah1 PAP activity depends on the surface concentration of PA
Kwiatek & Carman, 2020

Liposomes composed of various phospholipids and sizes are mimicking the composition and curvature of natural membranes, respectively. The application of the liposome model system allowed me to systematically measure PAP activity during its interaction with the PA incorporated into the liposomes. I found that Pah1 PAP activity was dependent on the bulk and surface concentrations of PA. This important result implicates that the enzyme operates in the hopping and scooting mode along the nuclear/ER membrane in vivo, which bring a potential explanation for the enzyme distribution in the cell membranes. Findings from my postdoctoral work were published in two research articles, one review article and one abstract. Posters and oral talks were presented at nine national and international meetings. Additionally, I was awarded the Carman Prize in Lipids for Outstanding Research Achievements, the poster award from Theobald Smith Society- American Society of Microbiology, and two travel grants.

The importance of my post doctoral work has been broadly recognized in the lipid biochemistry field, by being twice commented as articles in the ASBMB (American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology) Today Magazine.

Doctoral research

After receiving MSc, I decided to travel around the World and gain further academic experience in another country. For several following years, Sydney, Australia becomes my new home where I continued my scientific adventure. Obtaining the founding award University International Postgraduate Award, University of New South Wales, Australia, allowed me to pursue a Ph.D. project at Dr. Gaus laboratory “Novel approaches to study membrane organization: investigation of dependence between signal transductions and cell membranes organization in eukaryotic cells”. The major aim of my Ph.D. was to investigate the lateral organization of the plasma membrane of mammalian cells. Specifically, I was examining the biophysical properties of lipid domains and how separation into ordered and fluid domains influence protein diffusion. Protein-lipid interactions and the formation of protein complexes were also a subject of my research.

Characterization of the environmentally sensitive dyes
Kwiatek et al., 2013

To achieve my goals, I have developed new fluorescent imaging approaches to quantify membrane fluidity and lipid phase separation in cell membranes. My results have enabled a detailed description of membrane organization, temporal stability of lipid domains, and protein preferences towards lipid order or disorder domains. My Ph.D. research findings were published in six research articles , one review article and were presented as oral or poster presentations at seven national and international meetings. Additionally, I was awarded two travel grants.

Undergraduate and the Master’s research

Research team, from the left: Marcin Zawrotniak, Agnieszka Pierzyńska-Mach, Paulina Rybak, and Joanna Kwiatek

I was studying biophysics at the Jagiellonian University (UJ) in Poland where my undergraduate study and master’s degree research were combined within a five-year program. In my early years at UJ, I was introduced to laboratory work where I learned precise planning in conducting my experiments. I became a leader of a student team that received a research grant from the Dean of the Biochemistry, Biophysics, and Biotechnology Department. This first-hand experience in an independent project sparkled my eyes towards the application of super-resolution microscopy into biological studies.

Hence, I decided to explore this research avenue and conduct my master’s degree project at the Dr. Dobrucki laboratory . The major goal of my research was to investigate the influence of CW STED beam on various biological objects and to optimize the measurements conditions including the laser power of STED beam for live cell imaging in order to avoid damage of the investigated objects. This work resulted in presenting research at five conferences including a large international meeting Focus on Microscopy. In addition, one first author article was published in the post-conference journal and I was awarded the 1st price for the best oral presentation at the Modern Experimental Methods in Physics and Chemistry conference. After discussions with my mentor about career opportunities available to a master’s level researcher, I decided to pursue a Ph.D. in biophysics.

MSU 1.1 fixed cells, mitosis, proflavine staining, CW STED
Kwiatek et al., 2011

publications

PEER REVIEWED RESEARCH ARTICLES

YearTitleDOI
2020Kwiatek J. M., G. M. Carman. 2020. Yeast phosphatidic acid phosphatase Pah1 hops and scoots along the membrane phospholipid bilayer. J. Lipid Res. 61: 1232-43. (IF=4.5)10.1194/jlr.RA120000937
2019Hennessy M., M. E. Granade, A. Hassaninasab, D. Wang, J. M. Kwiatek, G.-S. Han, T. E. Harris, G. M. Carman. 2019. Casein kinase II-mediated phosphorylation of lipin 1 phosphatidate phosphatase at Ser 285 and Ser-287 regulates its interaction with 14-3-3 protein. J. Biol. Chem. 294: 2365-74. (IF=4.2)10.1074/jbc.RA118.007246
2018Ma Y., A. Benda, J. Kwiatek, D. M. Owen, K. Gaus. 2018. Time-resolved Laurdan Fluorescence reveals insights into membrane viscosity and hydration levels. Biophys. J. 115: 1498-508. (IF=3.6)10.1016/j.bpj.2018.08.041
2018Nicovich P. R.*, J. M. Kwiatek*, Y. Ma, A. Benda, K. Gaus. 2018. FSCS reveals the complexity of lipid domain dynamics in the plasma membrane of live cells. Biophys. J. 114: 2855-64. (IF=3.6) *equal contribution10.1016/j.bpj.2018.04.050
2017Ma Y., E. Pandzic, P. R. Nicovich, Y. Yamamoto, J. Kwiatek, S. V. Pageon, A. Benda, J. Rossy, K. Gaus. 2017. An intermolecular FRET sensor detects the dynamics of T cell receptor clustering. Nat. Commun. 8: 15100. (IF=12.1)10.1038/ncomms15100
2015Magenau A., D. M. Owen, Y. Yamamoto, J. Tran, J. M. Kwiatek, R. G. Pardon, K. Gaus. 2015. Discreet and distinct clustering of five model membrane proteins revealed by single molecule localization microscopy. Mol. Membr. Biol. 32: 11-8. (IF=1.6)10.3109/09687688.2014.990997
2013Kwiatek J. M.*, D. M. Owen*, A. bu-Siniyeh, P. Yan, L. M. Loew, K. Gaus. 2013. Characterization of a new series of fluorescent probes for imaging membrane order. PLoS. One. 8: e52960. (IF=2.7) *equal contribution10.1371/journal.pone.0052960
2012Yaffe Y., J. Shepshelovitch, I. Nevo-Yassaf, A. Yeheskel, H. Shmerling, J. M. Kwiatek, K. Gaus, M. Pasmanik-Chor, K. Hirschberg. 2012. The MARVEL transmembrane motif of occludin mediates oligomerization and targeting to the basolateral surface in epithelia. J. Cell Sci. 125: 3545-56. (IF=4.5)10.1242/jcs.100289

REVIEW ARTICLES

YearTitleDOI
2020Kwiatek J. M., G.-S. Han, G. M. Carman. 2020. Phosphatidate-mediated regulation of lipid synthesis at the nuclear/endoplasmic reticulum membrane. Biochim. Biophys. Acta Mol. Cell Biol. Lipids 1865: 158434. (IF=3.4)10.1016/j.bbalip.2019.03.006
2014Kwiatek J. M., E. Hinde, K. Gaus. 2014. Microscopy approaches to investigate protein dynamics and lipid organization. Mol. Membr. Biol. 31: 141-51. (IF=1.6)10.3109/09687688.2014.937469

conference proceedings

YearTitleDOI
2020Kwiatek J., G. Carman. 2020. Membrane Phospholipid Composition Governs Pah1 Phosphatidate Phosphatase Activity. FASEB 34 (S1), 1-1. (IF=4.9)10.1096/fasebj.2020.34.s1.00473
2011Kwiatek J., A. Pierzyńska-Mach, P. Rybak, M. Zawrotniak, J. Dobrucki. 2011. Visualization of living cells by light microscopy STED CW. Conference proceedings –I National Conference of Biophysics Students. ISBN 978-83-61026-50-1

awards

YearAward
2021The best poster award, Science: Polish Perspectives Conference, Switzerland- on-line
2020ASBMB Postdoctoral Travel Award, American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, USA
2019Carman Prize in Lipids for Outstanding Research Achievements, USA
2019Poster award, Theobald Smith Society- American Society of Microbiology Symposium, USA
2019Travel Grant , Rutgers Center for Lipid Research, Rutgers University, USA
2014Postgraduate Research Support Scheme- Travel Grant, University of New South Wales, Australia
2013Travel Grant, EMBL Australia, Australia
2012-2016University International Postgraduate Award, University of New South Wales, Australia, 150 000$ AUD

Carman Prize in Lipids for Outstanding Research Achievements
from the left: Dr. Carman, Joanna Kwiatek

conferences

DateConference
05.2021Science: Polish Perspectives Conference, Switzerland- on-line, poster
04.2021Experimental Biology 2021 Conference, USA- on-line, oral, session chairman
02.2021Theobald Smith Society- NJ branch of American Society of Microbiology, Symposium, USA - on-line, poster
11.2020New Jersey Institute for Food, Nutrition, and Health Research Day, USA - on-line, oral
09.2020EMBO Workshop Chemical Biology 2020, Germany - on-line, oral
07.2020ASBMB Lipid Research Division Seminar, USA - on-line, oral
07.2020Experimental Biology 2020 Conference, USA - on-line, oral, session chairman
11.2019Rutgers Center for Lipid Research Symposium, USA, poster
07.2019Gordon Research Conference on Molecular and Cellular Biology of Lipids, USA, poster
04.2019American Society of Microbiology Symposium, USA, poster
11.2018Rutgers Center for Lipid Research Symposium, USA, poster
11.2018Lipid Diversity and Human Disease Symposium, USA, poster
04.2015WE-Heraeus-Seminar: Advanced Microscopy of Membrane Biophysics, Germany, poster
03.2015EMBO Practical Course: Single molecule and single cell fluorescence, Germany, poster
06.2014Weber Symposium, USA, poster
04.2014Focus on Microscopy Conference, Australia, oral
02.2014Centre for Vascular Research Seminar, Australia, oral
11.201315th EMBL PhD Symposium, Germany, oral
03.20133rd Sydney Imaging Group Symposium, Australia, oral
04.2011Focus on Microscopy Conference, Germany, oral
02.2011XXXVIII Winter School of Biochemistry, FBBB Jagiellonian University, Poland, oral
12.2010Modern Experimental Methods in Physics and Chemistry Conference, Poland, oral
11.2010IX National Meeting of Students’ Physics Associations Symposium, Poland, poster
05.20101 st National Student’s Conference of Biophysics, Poland, oral and poster

My talk recorded during Lipid Research Division Seminar Series: Proteins and Membrane American Society for Biochemical and Molecular Biology 2020


Professional service

Teaching and mentoring experience

DatePosition
04. 2021- presentMentor for an undergraduate student, Individual mentoring program. Alumni Association, Jagiellonian University, Poland
03.2021Judge at the New Jersey Youth Institute, Rutgers University, USA
10.2020-02.2021Mentor for a Ph.D. student, “Meet-A-Mate” program. Alumni Association, University of New South Wales, Australia
2019-2020Mentor for an undergraduate student, Aresty Research Program. Rutgers University, USA
2019Mentor for an undergraduate student, SUPER Women in STEM program. Rutgers University, USA

Professional membership

DatePosition
2019-presentThe American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, USA
2019-presentThe National Postdoctoral Association, USA
2018- presentRutgers PostDoc Association, Rutgers University, USA. Board member, functions: treasurer, symposium and social events organiser
2012-2015Australia and New Zealand Society for Cell and Developmental Biology
2009-2011Faculty Student Council, Jagiellonian University, Poland
2008-2011Biophysics Students’ Association “NOBEL”, Jagiellonian University, Poland. Board member, functions: treasurer, conference and student exchange program organiser

hobby

The love of gardening is a seed once sown that never dies, but never grows to the enduring happiness that the love of gardening gives.
– Gertrude Jekyll

The garden is my peaceful place, where I relax and grow veggies. Being close to nature brings me happiness and comfort. One might think, gardening is an easy task just limited to watering and harvesting plants. Well, I can tell you it is good physical exercise and requires lots of dedication. I start the season in early spring by sowing seeds in containers. Then, after several weeks seedlings are ready to be planted in the garden and the real fun starts. Whenever I see a new flower turning into a little vegetable I am fascinated with the power of nature.

My garden is very vivid due to herbs and flowers which attract bees and butterflies. But sometimes, unwelcome guests come, which bite my strawberries and tomatoes. Harvesting season starts in late July and lasts until September. This is the most intense time due to regular weeding and watering. My veggies are fresh, colorful, and they taste amazing. So, to capture these beautiful summer flavors I can these veggies and herbs, and enjoy them during snowy winter.

contact

Let's talk about science, send me a message