Louise Fornander

Louise is an inspirational science communicator who holds a PhD in physical chemistry. Louise really loves science, and chemistry in particular, and when you meet or hear her, her feelings for the subject cannot be unnoticed. Louise means that science can explain everything, and if it cannot be explained by science it’s just because we haven’t received enough knowledge yet. There is always more to learn!

Louise’s Academic Background

Wow, this will be a long paragraph… The length of the paragraph is because of the fact that Louise has a very solid academic background. She has always had an extreme urge to always know more and more, and she is the person in Untamed Science who has published the most peer-reviewed papers in scientific journals. She started off her career by earning her undergraduate in biotechnology at Chalmers University of Technology in Sweden. Thereafter she first went first one year of studies at NUS in Singapore followed by half a year at UB in Barcelona, Spain. In Singapore she focused on tissue engineering, while in Barcelona she wanted to try something different and went on to programming the metabolic pathways in human liver. After almost two years abroad she came back to Sweden to write her Master’s thesis in Biotechnology, where she focused on DNA breaks.
But her academic career did not stop here. She continued to pursue a PhD in Physical Chemistry, which is additional five years in Sweden (pause for applause). In her PhD work she continued working with DNA breaks and she studied a protein in depth that is highly involved in repairing DNA breaks (the protein is called RAD51). Recently she successfully defended her thesis Biophysical studies of DNA binding – by the large filament-forming protein RAD51 and the small minor-groove binder Hoechst 33258 (find it here!). Louise’s work as a PhD student resulted in 9 (!) papers, and out of those nine she is the first author of five (see List of publications below).

Louise as a Science Communicator

Louise is a hardcore scientist who has the focus on chemistry. However, her personal drive is to communicate science to the public. By educating people she believes that these persons will be able to take more responsible decisions in their lives. Even though she loves chemistry, her goal is not to turn everybody into chemists. Instead she wants everybody to understand that we are dependent on science and chemistry. The thing is, Chemistry is all around us!

Together with Jonas she has produced two chemistry series. The Chemistry Calendar, which consists of 12 videos focusing on 12 different chemistry topics, that was later followed up with do-it-your-own chemistry experiments (check them out here). It was awarded the prize for being best event during the Year of Chemistry 2011 in Sweden. For the second chemistry series, Tropical Molecules, which was produced in collaboration with Molecular Frontiers and NTU, Louise and Jonas went to Singapore. Here they discover the chemistry of naturally occurring molecules in the wild, such as glowing mushrooms or the spicy molecule capsaicin in chili fruit.

Except for being on camera, behind the camera and writing scripts for Untamed Science, she has also worked as a lecturer and educator where she meets students face-to-face. For years she has visited schools in the Gothenburg region together with teachers from Universeum (a huge science center) in order to educate and inspire students about the wonderful world of chemistry. Universeum is a science center that means a lot to Louise personally. She has worked there for more than 10 years as an educator and guide, and it was also the place where she first met Jonas.

Louise has also been the host of a very popular show on Swedish National Television called Extreme Moment. In the show she meets youths that take us through their close-to-death experiences and they describe the events in very intense and memorable manners. Extreme Moments has been awarded to the Crystal Award 2015 and to Prix Jeunesse 2016

Louise and Sports

Except for loving science (and her family of course), Louise loves sports. Basically all sports. And she is extremely motivated when pursuing them. As a youth she competed both in sailing and in figure skating, and she had more training sessions than there were days in the week. Today she still tries to put in at least one training session every day, not because she has to but because she truly enjoys it. Louise describes, as strangely as it sounds, that she feels good when she pushes herself to her physical limit.

Louise is a skilled rock climber, trail runner, triathlete, scuba diver (she has been working as a PADI Scuba Master) and yogi. Louise’s natural curiosity together with her eager to understand how the body works in depth made her fulfil a Personal Training program with the focus on functional training (FUSTRA). Additionally, except for being “just a PT”, she has also additional training as a running coach and training for “women during and after pregnancy”. So, not only does Louise inspire and teach people about chemistry, she is also a source of knowledge and inspiration when it comes to training.

She has performed numerous multisport competitions, which are events that takes all from a couple of hours to several days and usually involves map reading combined with different ways of moving forward (running/biking/canoeing etc). She has, of course, also finished the “Swedish classic” (300 K biking, 90 K cross country skiing, 30 K trail running and 3 K outdoor swimming), Tough Viking (similar to Tough Mudder), biked through whole Europe with equipment (> 4 000 K), just to mention a few sports achievements.

When Louise gets a day off from work and from being a mom she has started a ritual of training more than 8 different training sessions during 24 hours. – This is Louise’s kind of relaxation! 😀

Louise and Chemistry

The reason Louise has studied chemistry is because that chemistry can explain almost anything in the world. We have chemistry all around us, we live in a world built up of chemistry. Everything we eat, all reactions in our bodies, that is all chemistry. Remember the cup of coffee or tea you had this morning that tasted so good, but also made you feel a little bit more alert? That is also chemistry!

As a trained chemist, with the title PhD, I want to pursue my dream of inspire people about chemistry. I want to be the link between the otherwise hard-to-understand ongoing research and the public. I want people not to be afraid of chemistry, but embrace it and see its potential.

Contact me
Feel free to contact me at louise.fornander@gmail.com.

Selected peer-reviewed and published articles

Ca2+ improves organization of single-stranded DNA bases in human Rad51 filament, explaining stimulatory effect on gene recombination
Louise H. Fornander et al. Nucleic acids research (2012), 40(11), 4904-4913.

Swi5-Sfr1 protein stimulates Rad51-mediated DNA strand exchange reaction through organization of DNA bases in the presynaptic filament
Louise H. Fornander et al. Nucleic acids research (2014), 42(4), 2358-2365.

UV Transition Moments of Tyrosine
Louise H. Fornander et al. Journal of Physical Chemistry B (2014), 118(31), 9247-9257.
Minor-Groove Binding Drugs: Where Is the Second Hoechst 33258 Molecule?
Louise H. Fornander et al. Journal of Physical Chemistry B (2013), 117(19), 5820-5830.