Sebastian Weingärtner

by Xandra van Megen

A large initiative was established by the Dutch government to fund 8 tenure track assistant professors across the 4 technical universities. At TU Delft, David Maresca and Sebastian Weingärtner were carefully selected amongst the best. Both candidates are being honored as Rising Stars of TU Delft for their brilliant beginnings, for both have received the prestigious START-UP Grant awarded by the Dutch Research Council (NWO), which funds top researchers, steers the course of Dutch science by means of research programs and by managing the national knowledge infrastructure. Here we are featuring Sebastian Weingärtner. 

Lab on MRI physics
Sebastian Weingärtner, a new rising star at TU Delft. In June 2019 Sebastian came to Delft as assistant professor to start a lab on MRI physics in the department of imaging physics. This faculty position provides him a way to find his independent research line and to inspire other people to work on interesting problems in MRI physics. For his research at TU Delft, he already got his first grant approved, the NWO start-up grant, which aims to support labs in the basic sciences.

Science fiction
The rising star sees the future of MRI very positive. He explains: “You know the health scanners in science fiction movies in which a person is placed and the scanner identifies everything that is wrong. That is what I am aiming for in my lab; a comprehensive quantitative assessment of the human body. Therefore I am trying to feed enough information into the MRI images. MRI is based on different underlying physical phenomena. I am trying to exploit some of these physical phenomena to create new imaging contrasts to reveal more information about the tissue that previously could not be depicted.”

Create new imaging contrasts to reveal more information about the tissue that previously could not be depicted.

― Sebastian Weingärtner

Fast implementation
After Sebastian also explored other fields of research in the US he came back to MRI physics. For him, MRI research is very motivating and stimulating, because in this research there are very short feedback cycles from concept to a tangible output. If you have an idea, you basically jump behind your computer and implement it in a day or two. A week later you will know if this is useful for patients.

A week later you will know if this is useful for patients.

― Sebastian Weingärtner

Societal impact
According to Sebastian, MRI is a beautiful combination of basic principles with tangible societal impact. “I think today, MRI is by far the most vital used application of quantum mechanics and as such it is a beautiful area to work in. It is using basic research and bridging the gap all the way to societal impact. Therefore the most important collaboration for this lab, in general, is always with clinical researchers who are excited about using novel basic research tools, to facilitate the clinical translation.”

MRI bridges the gap all the way to societal impact.

― Sebastian Weingärtner

Living in a painting
Sebastian moved to Delft after almost 10 years in the US. In the US he finished his PhD at Harvard University and did postdocs at the University of Minnesota and Stanford University. In Delft, he decided to move in the middle of the old town. “It is so cute and picturesque. It reminds me a lot of Heidelberg (Germany), where I started my PhD and did a postdoc later on. Everyone around you is a student. Delft is super pretty. Literally, it is like living in a painting!”, he says.

Literally, it is like living in a painting!

― Sebastian Weingärtner