Matthias Stahl

Photo by Gereon Stahl.

Dr. Matthias Stahl – who I am

Originally, I started off as a biochemist and today I am a data visualization specialist. After having run my own company higsch, I joined DER SPIEGEL as Deputy Head of their Graphics & Interactive team. So far it has been an amazing journey!

When I left school I wasn’t sure what to study. I had a strong interest in informatics, but also loved all the little proteins in our body cells doing biochemistry. Finally – after having cultured bacteria at my parent’s home – I chose biochemistry and moved from Schifferstadt in the Southwest of Germany to Munich in Bavaria.

The Technische Universität München was my home for almost ten years. After completing a bachelor’s and master’s degree in biochemistry, I continued with a doctorate in proteomics.

A lot of data helped me to unravel the secrets of multi-resistant bacteria

My doctoral research was all about pathogenic bacteria and we tried to find new drugs against antibiotic-resistant strains. Most importantly we applied mass-spectrometry based proteomics – a technique where a lot of data is collected. At this point I discovered my passion for data mining. It is simply wonderful how data turns into information and eventually new biology. So, I started teaching myself bioinformatics by watching tutorials during ironing, reading articles and books in the evenings, and by coding, coding, coding. It felt like back to the roots to my early interest in informatics.

I completely switched to data science in order to develop new bioinformatics methods

At the end of my doctorate, it was clear that I want to switch 100% to the dry lab. To do this, I found a fantastic position in Janne Lehtiö’s lab lab in Stockholm. Many people don’t know this, but Stockholm is a real bioinformatics hotspot in the research world.

I began working on children’s leukemia and how to enhance personalized treatment options. This led me to realize that the most important part of my research was being able to successfully communicate my results to clinicians. At the same time, I discovered my passion for beautiful and “on-the-point” data visualizations. A perfect match.

In fact, data visualization combines everything

During my journey through biochemistry, bioinformatics, data science and web development, I fell in love with data, statistics, art and design. These are all ingredients for impactful data visualizations. Today, my data visualization projects comprise both web-based interactive graphics and static pieces for print. Data-driven design is just beautiful.

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