A cordial reunion

The Jena School for Microbial Communication (JSMC) and International Leibniz Research School (ILRS) organized an alumni meeting.

Bachelor degree at one university, Master thesis at another one. And then landing a position in a prestigious graduate school. Perfect. But what comes after the PhD degree.

This is one question Sarah Irmscher, Jens Esken and Benjamin Hanf are currently dealing with. As representatives of the ILRS and JSMC doctoral researchers, the three young scientists openly described their daily life and the questions arising towards the end of the PhD training: Do I want to continue research on my topic? Or maybe switch to a career in industry?

In this situation, first-hand experiences are invaluable. And that is exactly what was shared at the alumni meeting on June 23, 2017. Some of the alumni even travelled from the UK or Sweden to Jena to give a presentation about their career path and meet their former coworkers.

In a relaxed and familiar setting, seventeen JSMC and ILRS alumni talked about the exciting time after receiving the PhD degree. They not only offered personal insights, but also had many practical advices for the current doctoral researchers. “If you want something, you need to speak out and stand up for your request”, explained Christian Hummert who is now Professor for Digital Forensics at the Hochschule Mittweida. Sebastian Müller shared his experiences as postdoc at the University of Cambridge, Uk. Juggling family needs and career interests was a major topic in the presentation of Sarahi Garcia, who is keeping the balls in the air as a postdoc in Sweden. Juliane Fischer added some valuable hints for applications and interviews in industry in her talk.

The coordinators and speakers of the programmes, Axel Brakhage and Peter Zipfel were delighted to see their former mentees again. They proudly presented the excellent developments during the last decade. JSMC speaker Axel Brakhage emphasized the importance of having an extensive network to facilitate contacts between academia and industry.

The participants of the alumni meeting were already working in full swing at expanding their networks. The coffee breaks and the popular barbecue at night provided lots of opportunities to exchange experiences and tips for the future.

The organizers Christine Vogler (ILRS) and Katja Präfcke (JSMC) would like to thank all speakers and participants for making it such a successful and interactive event.

The ILRS is the graduate school of the Leibniz Institute for Natural Product Research and Infection Biology – Hans Knöll Institute – in collaboration with the FSU, the University Hospital Jena and the Max Planck Institute for Chemical Ecology. The JSMC was established in 2006 as umbrella organization for all graduate schools in Jena that address microbiological research topics. It is the only project of the Excellence Initiative in Thuringia.