User:Jernej Turnsek

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Jernej Turnšek, PhD | Department of Plant & Microbial Biology | University of California, Berkeley | 431 Koshland Hall | Berkeley, CA 94720

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I am a postdoctoral research scientist in Krishna K. Niyogi's laboratory in the Department of Plant & Microbial Biology at the University of California, Berkeley. I completed my PhD in Biological and Biomedical Sciences at Harvard University where I used a genetically encodable tag for electron microscopy and subcellular proteomics to study iron receptor endocytosis, pyrenoid composition, and biosilicification in diatoms, ubiquitous single-celled photosynthetic algae.


  • Biomineral morphogenesis in single-celled eukaryotes
  • Silicon metabolism | Biogenic polyamines
  • Intrinsically disordered proteins | Biomolecular condensates
  • Origin of life | Astrobiology | Space exploration
  • Endurance sports | Exercise physiology | Sports technology


I am driven to uncover the molecular principles biological systems utilize to produce and shape bioinorganic hybrid materials. My research focuses on molecular, cell, and evolutionary biology of phytoplankton biomineralization.

Overview Diatoms.png

(A) Morphological diversity of diatom cell walls. The micrograph shows cleaned diatom cell walls arranged in this pattern by the UK-based microscopist and diatom artist Klaus Kemp. (B) Scanning electron microscopy image of Thalassiosira pseudonana, model diatom for biomineralization studies (credit: Nils Kröger). [C] Thalassiosira pseudonana cells. Red and green correspond to plastid autofluorescence and silica, respectively.


My PhD work was supported by the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation. Read more about the broader research initiative my projects were part of here. I originated the core PhD idea and co-wrote a grant that fueled my work with a colleague at Stanford University.

Peer reviewed publications

  • Turnšek J et al. 2021. Proximity proteomics in a marine diatom reveals a putative cell surface-to-chloroplast iron trafficking pathway. eLife 10:e52770. DOI
  • Faktorová D et al. 2020. Genetic tool development in marine protists: emerging model organisms for experimental cell biology. Nat Methods 17:481–494. DOI
  • Conrado RJ et al. 2012. DNA-guided assembly of biosynthetic pathways promotes improved catalytic efficiency. Nucleic Acids Res 40:1879–1889. DOI

Other publications

Creative writing


Phase Transitions in Polymeric and Protein Systems, 14-15 February 2019, Dresden, Germany

This meeting brought soft matter and polymer researchers together with molecular and cell biologists to discuss macromolecular phase separation and the physical nature of protein condensates.

ASCB | EMBO 2018 meeting, 8-12 December 2018, San Diego, CA

Focusing on cell biology as the fundamental basis of biology and exploring more specialized fields, such as neurobiology and stem cell biology. You can find the poster I presented at this conference on this link.

ASM Microbe 2018, 7-11 June 2018, GWCC, Atlanta, GA

Connecting scientists with their science–showcases the best microbial sciences in the world, and provides a one-of-a-kind forum to explore the complete spectrum of microbiology from basic science to translation and application. You can find the poster I presented at the conference on this link.

A New Age of Discovery for Aquatic Microeukaryotes, 26-29 Januar 2016, EMBL Heidelberg, Germany

This conference celebrated efforts of three major contributions to microeukaryote biology, ecology, and evolution that are catapulting the field forward: the Marine Microbial Eukaryote Transcriptome Sequencing Project (MMETSP), the Tara Oceans Expeditions, and the Malaspina Expedition. You can find the poster I presented at the conference on this link.

The Eleventh Annual Broad Institute Retreat, 14-15 December 2015, Hynes Convention Center, Boston, MA

This event brings together researchers and affiliates of the Broad Institute to discuss institute's most recent advances at the interface of science and technology. You can find the poster I presented at the retreat here

Wyss Institute 7th Annual Retreat, 19 November 2015, Seaport World Trade Center, Boston, MA

This event brings together researchers and affiliates of the Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering to discuss institute's most recent advances at the interface of science and technology. You can find the poster I presented at the retreat on this link.

Molecular Life of Diatoms 2015, 7-10 July 2015, University of Washington, Seattle, WA

Molecular Life of Diatoms 2015 brought together an interdisciplinary mix of scientists to discuss recent advances in our understanding of diatoms and the way they shape our planet. You can find the poster I presented at the conference here.

2014 MRS Fall Meeting & Exhibit, 30 November-4 December 2014, Boston, MA



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SITN Waves Expert

Science art

In the news


I am an avid and accomplished multisport athlete having competed in numerous open water swimming, running, cycling, and triathlon races including two marathons and two Half Ironman triathlons. I was a competitive basketball player prior to transitioning to endurance sports.

Teams and clubs I have been affiliated with

Personal records

You can find reflections on my first Ironman 70.3 journey here.

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Science, Technology, Entertainment, Design

  • Hidden Brain | Quanta Science Podcast | Invisibilia


  • The Rich Roll Podcast | Purple Patch Podcast | The Freedive Cafe Podcast


  • Supernatural with Ashley Flowers | Stoic Coffee Break

In Slovene

  • Intelekta | Studio ob 17h | Vroči mikrofon | Frekvenca X

The last 10 books I read

  • Indian running | Peter Nabokov
  • The Doors of Perception | Aldous Huxley
  • Deep Simplicity | John Gribbin
  • Pravica | Srečko Kosovel
  • Karantena. Rim. | Janko Petrovec
  • Rojstvo teorema | Cedric Villani
  • Get a Financial Life | Beth Koblinger
  • The Rules | The Velominati
  • Quirky Berkeley | Tom Dalzell
  • Long Distance | Bill McKibben




Slovenian Language and Culture