Professor in biophysical chemistry at Göteborg University
Membership period 2017–2022
I investigate chemical reactions on the molecular level. Millions of chemical reactions happen around us; sugars and carbohydrates are burned and produced, plants use photosynthesis to produce oxygen out of carbon hydroxide and water, and antibodies fight virus attacks in our body with help of chemical reactions.
Many of these reactions are controlled by proteins. Every proteins has a task to fullfill and often controls a specific chemical reaction. I visualize how proteins achieve this.
To this end I develop new experimental methods based on advanced laser and X-ray techniques. With my methods I and my team can then ’film’ how proteins and molecules interact and how they change when they react with each other.
Recently, I have, for example, investigated phytochrome proteins, which enable plants to grow out of the shade towards the sun. I have also visualized molecular structural dynamics in histidine kinases, which sense light and chemicals in bacteria.
1. and 2. Photo: Erik Thor/Young Academy of Sweden 3. Sebastian Westenhoff in the laboratory. Photo: KAW/Magnus Bergström (Click to enlarge)
(Click for high resolution portrait, opens in new window) Photo: Erik Thor/Young Academy of Sweden
Family: Wife and three children
Interests: Football and food, especially Japanese
Ohter: I used to play Played alto viola during every free minute as a youth and during college. If I had not become a chemist, I'd become a musician.
“I am a member of the Young Academy of Sweden to give free basic research a voice in society. Universities can only be credible players if their core is independent from third party interests. Together we as young researchers can work for this.”