Elena Haugg


During my research in the working  group of Prof. Dr. Annika Herwig, I focus on the expression of hypothalamic genes in our model organism, the Djungarian hamster (Phodopus sungorus). It expresses torpor as a metabolic energy saving mechanism as part of its natural adaptation to the harsh Siberian winters. In lab, winter adaptation and the accompanying torpor episodes can be induced by simply shifting the dark-light-phase to winter-like conditions, while the food availability and room temperature stay constant.
To observe the course of the hamsters' body temperature, which is an indicator of the current metabolic state, telemetry devices are implanted under anaesthesia. During the experiment, the hamsters can do their usual hamster business, like eating, sleeping, building nests, and expressing torpor. By comparing the brain of torpid and non-torpid winter-adapted hamsters at different time points with divers methods, the understanding of the torpor regulation shall be improved.
In the first step of my PhD, the transcriptory activity within hypothalamus is investigated  by the help of staining the immediate early gene c-Fos. Then, the two most active hypothalamic areas are dissected by punching or laser technique. The gained examples are used for next-generation sequencing of the mRNA. In the last step, the key mRNA will be visualised in the whole hypothalamus by non-radioactive in-situ hybridisation or immunohistochemistry. These methods are applied to brain tissue of torpid and non-torpid winter-adapted hamsters.
My PhD project is supported by the German Research Foundation (DFG).

Besides my work on my doctoral thesis I also contribute to the institute's teaching by helping in the Masters' lab courses, supervising bachelor theses, and giving parts of lectures. To educate educates me as well. 

Degree Theses

Bachelor thesis: "Simulation von Tierkämpfen", supervised by Dr. Andrea Wirmer.
Master thesis: "Locomotion and walking parameters of the scorpion "Mesobuthus eupeus", supervised by Dr. Sarah Pfeffer.
Both in the working group of Prof. Dr. Harald Wolf.

Conference contributions

  • April 2016: 9th Student Symposium on Molecular Medicine Ulm (Bachelor Thesis)
  • May 2017: 10th Student Symposium on Molecular Medicine Ulm (Master Thesis)
  • September 2017: 110th Annual Meeting of the German Zoological Society (DZG) Bielefeld (Master Thesis)
  • May 2018: 11th Student Symposium on Molecular Medicine Ulm (Doctoral Thesis)

Version of 7 August 2018