The next seminar series is expected to take place in later summer/autumn 2021.
Career Pathways for Bioscientists
Webinar series for MSc and PhD students
We are happy to announce the 1st INTERNATIONAL VIRTUAL CAREER EVENT at the Faculty of Biology of the University of Münster! The event is aimed at MSc and PhD students who are thinking about their next career steps. Speakers from different work areas will present their professional development paths, from the beginning of their careers to the achievement of high-level positions. Although they all share a common background — they all focused on plant sciences during their undergraduate, PhD and/or postdoctoral studies — their career pathways highlight general options for all bioscientists. Many graduate students are thinking about what to do after their studies and have questions like:
- What are the job opportunities after my MSc? Do I need a PhD to get a good job?
- How can I continue my career in research? Do I want to become a group leader?
- What are my options if I want to leave research?
- What skills do I need to get a job outside of academia?
If you have similar questions, sign up for our webinar and profit from the work experiences of our guest speakers! During each weekly session, two speakers from different working areas will introduce you to their career paths. After each presentation there will be time for questions.
Time: Wednesdays from 6 pm to 7 pm, via ZOOM
Audience: The event is targeted to MSc and PhD students. However, BSc students and postdocs are also very welcome to join us! Attendance is free. Once registered, you’ll get the link to the ZOOM meetings.
We are looking forward to seeing you!
Dr. Roda Niebergall
Dr. Maida Romera Branchat
Session 1: Getting started – My first steps in my career
For the first session, we invited two speakers who are just at the beginning of their careers. We will learn how they got a foot in the door and which qualifications and experiences were beneficial when applying for their first jobs.
Date and time: Wednesday, 3rd March 2021, 6 - 7 pm
Niklas Hielscher: "On the `side´ path - Career ideas and opportunities for life scientists"
Niklas Hielscher, who received his BSc and MSc degrees in biosciences from the University of Münster, is a great example of embarking on a successful career without holding a PhD. During his studies, he gained valuable work experience: He was an intern in press and communication at the Helmholtz Center for Infection Research, a freelance journalist for Regio-press and a content manager for the start-up company BexBioTec. Since November 2019, he has been working as a research innovation manager at Forschungszentrum Jülich.
Dr. des. Elisa Krawczyk: “All roads lead to Rome”
Elisa Krawczyk has always been passionate about science and research. After finishing her BSc and MSc studies in biosciences at the University of Münster, she without a doubt wanted to pursue a PhD. Earlier in her studies, she gained some lab experience working at the Fraunhofer Institute for Molecular Biology and Applied Ecology and at the Max Planck Institute for Plant Breeding Research. She also was awarded the prize for the best Plant Science Master Thesis by the German Society for Plant Sciences (DBG). From 2017 to January 2021, she pursued her PhD in plant sciences at the University of Göttingen. Currently, she is working as a scientific assistant at the Institute of Human Genetics at the University Medical Center Göttingen.
Session 2: Taking on more challenging responsibilities - Climbing the ladder in business management
Working in industry sounds attractive to many bioscientists. In session 2, our speakers will share their work experiences, from their first steps in academia to their transition to companies. We will learn which skills are needed and what steps are important for succeeding in the corporate world.
Date and time: Wednesday, 10th March 2021, 6 - 7 pm
Dr. Isabella Tonaco: "3 bold moves to reach a purpose"
For Dr. Isabella Tonaco, professional success requires perseverance, hard work and courage to switch course to pursue professional ambitions and personal purposes. She studied agronomy at the Federal University of Lavras, Brazil, and pursued her PhD in plant sciences at Wageningen University in the Netherlands. She then continued her career as a postdoctoral researcher at the Max Planck Institute for Plant Breeding Research in Cologne before switching to a career in the international business environment. Since 2011, she has worked in different areas of the chemical industry. In 2020, she was appointed vice president of the Renewable Polymers and Chemicals business unit at Neste, ranked as the 4th most sustainable company in the world.
Dr. Theodoros Zografou: "To be successful be relentlessly curious"
Curiosity, motivation and perseverance are the driving forces behind Dr. Theodoros Zografou's professional achievements. During his MSc studies, he qualified for the University of Cologne's fast-track master's programme — offered only to the top 5% of students — and completed his master's and doctoral studies at the Max Planck Institute for Plant Breeding Research in Cologne in 3 years. Before moving into industry, he co-founded the company Psyways to connect online therapists to people with mental illness. In 2015, he joined Celonic, where he held different positions before being appointed as the associate director of business development.
Session 3: Leadership positions – How I became a group leader
Running your own group, being your own boss, choosing your own research focus: Being a group leader has many advantages. But how do you reach this position, and how do you overcome the challenges on the way? Our speakers in session 3 will give us insight on their paths to a professorship in Germany and Canada.
Date and time: Wednesday, 17th March 2021, 6 - 7 pm
Prof. Dr. Susann Wicke: "How I became a professor"
Prof. Dr. Susann Wicke has been fascinated by parasitic plants for many years, leading her to investigate how these plants have genetically and evolutionarily adapted to their unusual lifestyle. She studied biology at Technische Universität Dresden and obtained a doctoral degree in plant evolutionary biology from the University of Vienna. After her doctoral studies, she started to work as a postdoctoral researcher at the Institute for Evolution and Biodiversity (IEB) at the University of Münster. In 2017, she received an Emmy Noether-grant from the DFG to establish an independent research group. In 2019, she was appointed as an associate professor of plant evolutionary biology at the University of Muenster, based at IEB. In April 2020, she was appointed professor of systematic botany and biodiversity and the director of the Späth Arboretum at Humboldt University of Berlin. Link: Wicke group
Prof. Dr. Jacqueline Monaghan: "Becoming a group leader in plant biology"
Prof. Dr. Jacqueline Monaghan is enthusiastic about both teaching and research. So, becoming a professor was her dream for many years. She obtained a doctoral degree from the University of British Columbia, Canada, and worked as a postdoctoral researcher at The Sainsbury Laboratory in Norwich, UK, where she was also awarded a BBSRC Anniversary Future Leaders Fellowship. Since 2016, she has been an assistant professor in the Biology Department at Queen's University in Kingston, Canada. Furthermore, she functions as a reviewing, handling and associate editor for several high-impact journals, including eLife, the Journal of Experimental Botany and Molecular Plant-Microbe Interactions. In 2019, she was named Canada Research Chair in Plant Immunology, a prestigious honour created to promote exceptional emerging researchers. Link: Monaghan group
Session 4: Working in science management – Which soft skills are important?
In the last years, science management has become a more and more attractive field of work. While science managers support science without actually doing research, they find many ways to integrate their scientific education. However, in addition to scientific skills, a variety of soft skills are needed for these jobs. In session 4, two science managers will share their experience with getting a job in this field.
Date and time: Wednesday, 24th March 2021, 6 - 7 pm
Dr. Stephan Jekat, MBA: "There and back again"
Gaining a Master of Business Administration (MBA) degree was beneficial for Dr. Stephan Jekat’s career progression. He studied biosciences at the University of Münster and conducted his PhD studies at the Institute of Plant Biology and Biotechnology. After his PhD, he worked both as a postdoc and as a project manager at the Fraunhofer Institute for Molecular Biology and Applied Ecology in Aachen. In 2016, he returned to the University of Münster to reform the MSc programme in biotechnology, putting a focus on bioeconomy. In November 2019, he became head of the Information Centre for Technology and Patents and a subject librarian for mechanical engineering at TU Dortmund University.
Dr. Stephan Wagner: "Painting a Colourful Picture of the PhD Coordinator Position"
While Dr. Stephan Wagner enjoys working with researchers and supporting science, he has also always tried to integrate his work with his private life. He received a Diplom in biology, equivalent to an MSc degree, at the University of Cologne and conducted his PhD studies in a collaboration between the University of Cologne and the Max Planck Institute for Plant Breeding Research (MPIPZ). He then continued his career as a postdoctoral researcher at the University of Bonn. Since 2018, he has coordinated the IMPRS PhD programme of the MPIPZ. One piece of advice Dr. Stephan Wagner likes to offer to PhD students is to believe in their skills but not to take career progression for granted.
Session 5: Resilience, communication, leadership – How I started my own company
If you want to build your own company, you need to be willing to take risks and overcome many obstacles. Yet, by doing so you gain a huge amount of freedom and independence and can fully integrate your creative potential. Our speakers in sessions 5 both travelled the rocky road to becoming their own bosses and will share with us the hardest but also the most rewarding moments of their journeys.
Date and time: Wednesday, 14th April 2021, 6 - 7 pm
Dr. Rebecca Melcher: "How to start a startup"
Dr. Rebecca Melcher has always been attracted to the idea of running her own business. By becoming her own boss, she created her ideal working environment. She received a BSc in biosciences and an MSc in biotechnology at the University of Münster and conducted her PhD studies at the Institute of Plant Biology and Biotechnology. Already during her PhD, she knew she wanted to start her own company and successfully applied for grants supporting new entrepreneurs. In 2018, she co-founded BexBioTec, a start-up offering contract research in the area of phytodiagnostics.
Dr. Ben Hartwig: "Connected at heart"
To create his own company, Dr. Ben Hartwig combined his two passions: science and applied improvisation. Previously, he pursued his PhD in plant genetics at the Max Planck Institute for Plant Breeding Research (MPIPZ) in Cologne. For a while he worked both as a postdoctoral researcher at the MPIPZ and as a professional actor. In 2017, he founded Neuoblitz, a company offering training and coaching courses focusing on resilience, communication and leadership.
Session 6: The other sides of sciences – Working in research environments outside of academia
For many scientists, staying in academia is not an option or even a goal. But there are many research opportunities available in industry and the public sector. For session 6, we have invited two speakers who work in research environments outside of academia; they will inform us on how research is conducted in industry and at a federal institution.
Date and time: Wednesday, 21st April 2021, 6 - 7 pm
Dr. Samson Simon: tba
Being flexible and open-minded has been very important for Dr. Samson Simon´s career. He studied biology at the University of Cologne and had the opportunity to conduct his MSc and PhD thesis at the Max Planck Institute for Plant Breeding Research. For his postdoctoral studies, he moved to the University of Lille, France. In 2016, he decided to leave his lab bench and start a new career as a research assistant at the Federal Agency for Nature Conservation in Bonn. Today, thanks to his ability to critically analyse scientific data, he advises the German government on the impact of the latest scientific findings on the environment.
Dr. Markus Berns: “Making healthy eating enjoyable and sustainable – as a plant biologist in a Vegetable Breeding company”
For Dr. Markus Berns, the communication and project management skills he acquired during his PhD have been key to his professional success. He gained initial experience in digital plant phenotyping during his MSc thesis at Forschungszentrum Jülich. After his graduation in biology at the Heinrich Heine University Düsseldorf, he proceeded with his doctoral and postdoctoral studies in plant genetics at the Max Planck Institute for Plant Breeding Research in Cologne. In 2016, after completing a ‘Mini MBA’ with extensive project management training, he found his first industry position as a scientist of digital phenotyping at Bayer. Today, he is the team leader of digital phenotyping at BASF Vegetable Seeds in Nunhem (Netherlands).
Session 7: Getting involved and reaching out
In session 7, we will learn how to find the right path by getting involved, learning from mistakes, and finding ways to make a change. At the end of the session, we will inform you about our new mentoring programme “REACHING OUT”.
Date and time: Wednesday, 28th April 2021, 6 - 7 pm
Dr. Elisa García García: "Parallel careers: two side of the same coin"
When Dr. Elisa García García started her PhD in neurodevelopmental biology at the Autonomous University of Madrid (Spain), she thought she would someday head her own research group. But soon after, during a postdoc at the Centro de Biología Molecular Severo Ochoa in Madrid and the Columbia University in New York (USA), she realised that a career is not only influenced by hard work alone. A stimulating work environment is a vital component that fosters professional development and positive interactions between colleagues, as well as external influences, such as the economic crisis. In 2018, she decided to switch to science management and became the Postdoc Coordinator at the Max Planck Institute for Plant Breeding Research in Cologne to support the careers of junior researchers. She is also the president of the Association of Spanish Researchers in Germany and a member of the Equal Opportunities Commission at the Max Planck Society. In this way, she has succeeded in implementing the structural changes she sought during her scientific career.
Dr. Roda Niebergall: "Finding my path"
Dr. Roda Niebergall’s professional mission is to guide and inspire the next generation of scientists. She studied biology at the Freie Universität Berlin and the John Innes Centre (UK) and completed her doctoral studies in the field of molecular plant sciences at The Sainsbury Laboratory (UK). There she gained preliminary experience in science management. Afterwards, she joined the Max Delbrück Center for Molecular Medicine (MDC) in Berlin to support the scientific director in executive operations. At the same time, she worked as a freelance lecturer at the life sciences learning lab “Gläsernes Labor”. In 2014, she joined the Faculty of Biology of the University of Münster where she is now focusing on internationalisation and career development.