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June: Franziska Lederer (HZDR)

Franziska Lederer is head of the BioKollekt research group at the Helmholtz-Zentrum Dresden-Rossendorf. Her research focuses on the use of artificial biomolecules for the recycling of raw materials, the detection of microplastics and nanoplastics and the optimization of enzymatic plastic degradation. She completed her doctorate in microbiology at the University of Rostock in 2013. In this interview, she talks to us about her research and what drives her.

What are you currently working on?

Franziska Lederer: Together with my team, I am working on the identification and application of particle-binding biomolecules to enable the selective separation of these particles with the help of biocollectors. One research focus of my team is the separation of the rare earth particles contained in the fluorescent powder of compact light bulbs. With the help of biofunctionalized magnetic biocollectors, we are now able to separate the most valuable components from the fluorescent powder. A patent has just been applied for and a validation project has been launched.

What is your personal motivation?

Franziska Lederer: As a biologist, I am fascinated by the gigantic diversity of nature and its building blocks. My aim is to link bio-based processes with classic processes established in industry in order to enable the recovery of significantly more raw materials from mixtures of materials, particularly with a view to the circular economy.
The techniques we have established can be used for all kinds of materials and help to recover critical elements or remove toxic elements from systems. We want to enable other researchers to use these techniques and apply them to other issues. In a current project, we are developing a guideline and software tool to realize this.

What kind of challenges are you facing in the near future?

Franziska Lederer: We are working on bringing developed technologies into commercial application. A further challenge is the expansion of the technologies as part of the Helmholtz Sustainability Challenge to develop a detection system for micro- and nanoplastics.

If you could make a wish for something for your research, what would you wish for?

Franziska Lederer: I would like to see more continuity in manpower and investments. I would also like to see an expansion of the laboratories and less bureaucracy. In general, I would like to see more interdisciplinary thinking and openness to technology in all disciplines across structural units.

Where do you see your discipline in 5-10 years?

Franziska Lederer: I am convinced that biological tools - especially peptides - will be used much more frequently. Their properties for selectively binding organic and inorganic materials as well as ions will be more widely used in industry and I want my team to make a decisive contribution to this.
By integrating biotechnologies into other specialist areas, important contributions will be made to the necessary transformation processes in industry.

ORCID: 0000-0002-0452-3242

Campus Talk of the BR with Franziska Lederer (in German)