This month our short interview features Daniel Häusermann, who heads the Australian Synchrotron’s imaging and medical beamline team. The beamline is currently being extended to provide advanced high-resolution imaging capabilities in preparation for clinical research with patients.

Describe your job in 25 words or less.
Designing, building and running the Imaging and Medical Beamline – the longest beamline in the southern hemisphere.

Best aspect of your job?
Moving from high pressure physics to medical research has opened my eyes to the profound impact synchrotron-based research can have in increasing our understanding of a wide range of medical conditions and finding new treatments for illnesses such as cancer and cardio-vascular diseases.

Hardest aspect of your job?
Building something as world-unique and technically complex as the IMBL takes a collective leap of faith on the part of scientists, funders and administrators. Maintaining a cohesive vision over the years it takes to develop a project of this scale is challenging. But on most days this is one of the best things about my job.

Apart from the Australian Synchrotron, what's the coolest job you've ever had?
Working at the European Synchrotron Radiation Facility (ESRF) in France from 1992 to 1999. It is a multi-cultural, multi-lingual laboratory which had the first high-brilliance beamlines in the world and rapidly built up the most outstanding research programs and achievements in the synchrotron world. I was given the opportunity to work with young, dynamic and outstanding hands-on users to establish a high-pressure research program that is still world-leading today. But being a ‘house mother’ in an ashram in the early 70s was pretty 'cool' too.

Best things about living in Melbourne and why?
Living on an acre of Australian bush, where echidnas, kookaburras, cockatoos and parrots visit daily. Yet I'm only 40 minutes drive from the city or the beach. You don't get that in Switzerland.

Your favourite overseas destination and why?
With family in Switzerland, London, France and the USA there is always much desire to go there, but recently discovering South East Asia is hard to beat.

A little-known fact about the Australian Synchrotron?
Worrell Louden is the best and most helpful store manager of all synchrotrons in the world, and he brings breakfast to his wife in bed every morning!

What’s the most unusual or interesting sample you’ve seen on the IMBL?
As part of a developmental biology research program, we recently studied a 380-million-year-old fossilised bone from an extinct armoured fish.

What is the biggest achievement or discovery so far for your beamline?
That a Swiss, an Englishman, a Greek and a Russian can share a 4m x 4m office and build a world-leading beamline.

What is the biggest challenge facing your beamline?
To build a facility that can receive patients for clinical research in a few years from now. It is only through strong collaboration with our international colleagues and the support of the Australian biomedical community that we can navigate the uncharted territories and manage the risks required to get there.

What is the best piece of advice you would like to offer users and potential users?
If you think you are thinking big, think bigger.