Interview with Julia Assmann - acting representative of young scientists in the National Research Platform for Zoonoses
you were recently elected as Junior Scientist Zoonoses Representative at the Junior Scientist Zoonoses Meeting - first of all congratulations and thank you for your commitment!
Thank you very much.
Why don't you start by telling me a little bit about yourself: What do you study, where do you work, what are you researching?
I studied Biochemistry and Molecular Life Sciences in Berlin and did my PhD at the Institute of Microbiology and Epizootics at the Free University of Berlin. Now I am about to submit my thesis. Since last year I have already been working as a research assistant at the Robert Koch Institute in the Center for Biological Hazards and Special Pathogens and more precisely in the Special Light and Electron Microscopy. The project I am working on is even being funded by the Zoonoses Platform as a pilot project. I am trying to make the communication in biofilms visible under the microscope via ion pulses. This is an incredibly exciting project, even though the work always presents me with new smaller and bigger challenges.
What was your motivation to be nominated as a representative of the next generation? Were you surprised by your election success?
I wanted to do more for the interests of young scientists. The Internal Advisory Board of the Zoonoses Platform is certainly a very good opportunity for this.
Of course I hoped that I would be elected. But since it was one of the first elections in which I participated as a candidate, I was naturally very excited. I am therefore all the more pleased that so many young scientists have elected me and have placed their trust in me to represent their interests. This gives me the opportunity to be a full member of the advisory board, to contribute to decisions and take responsibility.
Do you already have plans/ideas that you would like to implement within the platform as part of your new office? How do you imagine the work in the Internal Advisory Board of the zoonoses platform?
Since the zoonoses platform will also be represented on Facebook in the future, I would like to get involved. It is important that such research platforms are also represented in the social media in order to reach a broad, young audience. are I am also looking forward to supporting the organization of the JSZM and the Zoonosis Symposium next year as well.
I am definitely looking forward to taking a look behind the scenes of the advisory board meetings! So far I only know them from the perspective of the applicant. Let us see what it is like to sit on the other side. Especially the evaluation of the different applications from the different disciplines will certainly be exciting. But I also have great respect for this task and hopefully I can learn a trick or two from the Senior Scientists.
As mentioned at the beginning you were elected at our JSZM. How important do you find events that are explicitly aimed at young researchers? How did you yourself like the JSZM? Were you able to network well with the young researchers present? How do you feel about the cooperation with our location at the FLI, which is in charge of the young scientists at the Zoonoses Platform?
I find such events incredibly important. It is something else to be able to exchange ideas with like-minded people. Especially the roundtable discussions offer the opportunity to gain insight into a wide variety of projects and to ask all the questions that come to mind in a small group and to discuss at eye level. The inhibition threshold to ask questions or introduce ideas is usually lower than in front of a much more experienced, renowned audience. Many of us - be it with regard to our experiments or other areas of our dissertation - are facing similar problems and stumbling blocks. At such events one can try to overcome the difficulties together, or encourage each other. I myself have been able to make many helpful contacts at the JSZM and have received important input for my work. But what I find even more important is that we have the opportunity to think outside the box and get to know projects from outside the field. You can also get to know interesting new people.
The cooperation with FLI was always very pleasant and uncomplicated for me. The contact persons were and are always very helpful and try to solve even small problems as fast as possible.
Our symposium "Zoonoses 2019 - International Symposium on Zoonoses Research 2019" is coming up soon - and your term of office will officially begin. How often have you been to our symposium? Do you enjoy attending the symposium? What do you find particularly appealing?
This year I will be at the symposium for the fourth time. So I am almost an old hand. I always found the symposium very exciting and find it a successful mixture of the different disciplines. It also offers a good opportunity for doctoral students to present their results to a broad audience from different disciplines. I was able to give my very first lecture at a conference at the symposium and despite my great nervousness in the run-up, the relaxed atmosphere helped me.
At the JSZM you also met your predecessor Kore or maybe you knew her before, right? Do you have time to talk about your future tasks? Did she give you any tips for your office?
I have known Kore since the last JSZM in Hamburg and we had time to talk again this year. She was also able to give me a few tips and prepared me mentally and morally for my upcoming tasks. So I think that I am well prepared.
Finally, we would like to thank you for the interview and look forward to working with you in the future! We wish you all the best for your work as a representative of the next generation!
Thank you very much for the first interview of my life! I am already looking forward to an exciting year!
(This interview was conducted by Sebastian Sprengel for the National Research Platform for Zoonoses)
Interview with Kore Schlottau - junior representative of the National Research Platform for Zoonoses (2018 - 2019):
you are the current junior representative of the National Research Platform for Zoonoses Why don't you start by telling me a little bit about yourself:
What have you studied, where are you working, what are you currently researching?
I did my Bachelor in Biology and Master in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology at the University of Bremen. Afterwards I moved to the Friedrich-Loeffler-Institute on the Isle of Riems for my doctoral thesis and am now working there as a postdoc. I am currently working on a super exciting collaborative research project on zoonotic borna viruses (ZooBoCo). I am working on the in-vitro and in-vivo characterization as well as transmission and pathogenesis of different mammalian Borna viruses.
When you ran for junior representative last year: What was your motivation? What did you want to achieve? Did you have plans?
As a junior representative of the Zoonoses Platform, the office of the junior representative of the Zoonoses Platform offers on the one hand the opportunity to actively shape the situation of young scientists and on the other hand to gain an insight into the work of the internal advisory board or to participate in it as a full member. I wanted to present the interests of the PhD students and PostDocs as well as possible and to contribute to improving the long-term perspectives, for example through appropriate funding.
You have been the junior representative of the zoonoses platform for some time now. How do you feel about the work involved? You also take part in the meetings of the Internal Advisory Council. How do you like the work on the committee?
The work is very pleasant. You learn a lot about committee work and get a lot of new ideas.
Recently our Junior Scientist Zoonoses Meeting took place, where among other things your successor was elected. How important do you find such an event, which is explicitly aimed at young scientists?
Such events are extremely important. They enable doctoral students and young postdocs to exchange and network with others on an interdisciplinary basis. One has the opportunity to meet people from other locations and institutes who are working on similar projects at the same time and who may have the same problems or similar interests/prospects. In addition to the scientific content, the JSZM also offers lectures on career prospects, which can be very helpful.
Our symposium "Zoonoses 2019 - International Symposium on Zoonoses Research 2019" is coming up soon. How often have you been to our symposium? Do you enjoy attending the symposium? What do you find particularly appealing?
This year I will attend the symposium for the fifth time. It was one of the first conferences I was allowed to attend as a doctoral student and I look forward to it every year. The symposium offers exciting scientific topics in a very familiar and relaxed environment.
As already mentioned, your term of office as a junior representative will end soon. In retrospect: Did you enjoy your work? Were you able to network well with young people and represent their interests? Were you able to implement your plans/ideas? How did you feel about the cooperation with our FLI location, which is in charge of the junior staff of the platform?
It was definitely fun! I think the networking was very successful through events like the JSZM and I tried to put some ideas into practice. Dr. Nils Kley and meanwhile Dr. Dana Thal are both highly motivated and very committed. The cooperation was therefore very pleasant and constructive.
At the JSZM you also met your successor Julia Assmann: Would you like to give her any tips?
I have known Julia for several years through the JSZM and I am convinced that she will do her job very well.
Besides, on behalf of the entire National Research Platform for Zoonoses, we would like to thank you for your commitment as a representative of young scientists and, of course, for the interview. Privately and professionally we wish you all the best and much success!
Thank you very much. It has been a pleasure to talk with you.
(The interview was conducted by Sebastian Sprengel for the National Research Platform for Zoonoses)