"It’s the Mixture of People with Different Backgrounds that Bring Up New Ideas"

Interview on International Mobility with Dr Aurora Gomez-Martin, and Dr Jaroslav Minar

A research stay abroad offers various opportunities for researchers and, above all, new experiences. Dr Aurora Gomez-Martin (age 30) from Sevilla, Spain and Dr Jaroslav Minar (age 32) from Prague, Czech Republic, are two battery researchers from abroad who chose MEET Battery Research Center of the University of Münster for an extensive research stay in Germany. The two Postdocs explain their reasons for their international experience as well as challenges and opportunities of their time in Münster, Germany.

Why did you decide to research at MEET Battery Research Center in Germany?

Aurora Gomez-Martin: Germany is a top-leading country when it comes to battery research and electromobility. It is known for its great research network with a strong cooperation between academia and industry. In particular, MEET Battery Research Center is one of the most internationally recognized organizations in the field of battery research and offered me a fantastic opportunity to develop my personal and professional skills while working here in the "SeNSE" research project funded by the European Union's Horizon 2020 research and innovation program.

Jaroslav Minar: Coming from the Czech Republic I personally also value the proximity to my home country. I have worked in Analytics back in Prague, at MEET I am able to concentrate on battery research in particular. The Division Analytics & Environment I’m working in at MEET provides the possibility to focus on the topic of battery recycling which is one of the hot topics of research of our time. I highly appreciate the skilled and experienced research team at MEET who takes a multi-angled, holistic research approach.

Dr Aurora Gomez-Martin and Dr Jaroslav Minar
© MEET / Heinemann

Aurora, you have been in Germany since the beginning of 2020, Jaroslav you have joined the MEET team in February 2022. What were your first impressions when you came to Germany?

Jaroslav Minar: From the first day on I had the feeling of being in the right place with the right people. Everybody was very welcoming, friendly and helpful. I was definitely impressed by the MEET equipment: great laboratories to work in!

Aurora Gomez-Martin: The number of resources, facilities and therefore research opportunities impressed me as well. My first time in Germany was during two internships during my PhD studies funded by research grants of the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD). Since I liked the experience so much, I decided to come back to continue my scientific career after finishing my PhD studies in Spain.

What has helped or is still helping you to settle in Germany?

Aurora Gomez-Martin: It definitely helps to be open-minded when you decide to live in another country and do some research on the culture in your new home country. The International Office of the University of Münster was a great help to settle in. They organized many events to get to know other scientists from abroad and helped to find an accommodation which is definitely a challenge in a popular city like Münster.

Jaroslav Minar: Trying to adapt to the country helps as well, I took some German lessons before I came here and continue with self-studies now. It takes patience and the willingness to work hard. My colleagues are a great help to settle in the job, but also in the city of Münster. Even though I am here just since a few months I have already found some new friends in my quarter, which is a true gift.

What chances and challenges lie within international mobility?

Jaroslav Minar: To make new friends and enhance your scientific network are the biggest chances when working abroad to me. I also value to get new research skills and hope that my work will make an impact in academia and industry in the future. It takes some courage to overcome language barriers or adapt to another culture. The detachment of family and friends might be tough, but thanks to smartphones and video calls, you can still keep them close.

Aurora Gomez-Martin: A huge win is that you never stop learning and gain so many new perspectives, you get to know a new culture and learn new languages. A mixture of people with different backgrounds come up with different solutions and new ideas you never considered before. Living abroad is also always a challenge: You have to leave your comfort zone and sometimes have to find creative solutions. And that definitely further develops own personal and professional skills. For the future I hope to continue my career working in such an exciting research field.