Internship Project

Capillary Forces in Cells - Molecular Mechanisms and Physiological Relevance

Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin
Institute for Biology
Subject Area
Biophysics, Cell Biology, Biochemistry
April - July (12 weeks. The specific dates are arranged individually according to the project's and the student's availability)
Internship Modality:
On-site internship in Berlin

The application is closed, and all positions have been filled.
Applications for 2025 will open in October 2024.
Project Supervisor(s)
Dr. Roland Knorr (, Dr. Katharina Sporbeck (, Dr. Lukas Hauer
Academic Level
Advanced undergraduate students (from second year) 
Master's students 
Ph.D. students 
Further Information
Project Type
Academic Research 
Project Content
The aim of the project is to investigate the physico-molecular mechanism of intracellular capillary forces. The dynamic phase separation of proteins and RNAs in the form of membrane-less organelles with fluid properties is increasingly emerging as a general biophysical principle of cell organisation. How the intracellular capillary forces generated by such fluid organelles are used to organise cellular processes is largely unknown and the focus of this project.
The aim is to quantify the capillary forces between membrane-less and membrane-enclosed organelles and to understand their physiological functions with the help of theoretically sound in vitro and in vivo experiments.
Tasks for Interns
  • Learn established in vivo and in vitro experimental systems to explore new facets of how proteins exert capillary forces on intracellular structures.
  • Use confocal microscopy and other imaging techniques.
Project details will be adjusted to the interests of the student.
Academic Level
Advanced undergraduate students (from second year) 
Master's students 
Ph.D. students 
  • Previous lab work experience, including optical microscopy
  • Ideally, experience working with membrane model systems and phase separation
Expected Preparation
Reading recent publications of the group:
Nature 2021, 2020, DOIs: 10.1038/s41586-020-2992-3, 10.1038/s41586-020-1977-6
PNAS, DOI: 10.1073/pnas.2024109118
JCB 2021, DOI:10.1083/jcb.202103175

Please write a concise motivation letter, max. 1 page, highlighting how your work and experience
complements with ours.
Back to Project List

For more information on the Humboldt Internship Program or the project, please contact the program coordinator.