Dr Gesche Braker becomes Managing Director
Young scientists (postdocs) have a wide variety of opportunities to plan and shape their careers when they complete their doctoral degrees, both within and outside of the university. Around 400 postdocs are currently employed on fixed-term contracts at Kiel University (CAU). They usually work as research staff in working groups, or they research and teach independently, as assistant professors for example. The CAU has now founded a new Postdoc Centre in order to help those members of research staff in particular who have fixed-term employment with their jobs and their career planning. It will start work at some point this year. Dr Gesche Braker will be the centre’s first Managing Director.
At a kick-off meeting on Monday 2 July, the Vice President, Professor Karin Schwarz, who is responsible for young career researchers, the head of the CAU Graduate Center, Dr Sabine Milde, the head of the Strategy and Planning department at the CAU, Pascal Sadaune, and the postdoc representatives, Dr Martina Baum and Dr Meike Stumpp, welcomed the new Managing Director. Braker has a great deal of experience in working with postdoc scientists, and she is well acquainted with the situation in Kiel. She has built up the Integrated Marine Postdoc Network (IMAP) of the Cluster of Excellence “The Future Ocean” since 2012, and has supported the networking and individual career development of postgraduates in integrative marine sciences. “I am very pleased that I can use my experience for the whole university. We are not starting from scratch here. There is already an online portal at the CAU with lots of great offers for the target group. This can be expanded upon,” said the microbiologist, who has a postdoctoral qualification in this field.
structured career planning extremely important
CAU Vice President Karin Schwarz also emphasised that structured career planning is extremely important for postdocs: “The time as a postdoc serves as an important section of further scientific qualification on the way towards becoming a professor. It is also important for helping researchers to develop scientific independence. At the same time, however, we must be aware that not everyone will end up as a professor, but that some will work towards other career goals. Spin-offs also play a role here, in addition to employment in the public and private sector. Some individuals will take great personal career risks, so we must supervise and support our postdocs during this transition and orientation period in a responsible manner.”
A Postdoc Centre as a central institute offers ideal framework conditions to those affected, said Schwarz. As a strategic structural development measure for the CAU, it offers the target group space for information, orientation and exchange. This helps young researchers to hone their perspective for career options in good time, even outside of the university as well. “This far-sightedness for your own situation is required in order for individual offers like training courses, further education, coaching or mentoring to really be effective,” said Braker. One of her tasks will be to promote networking with the economy, industry and public service. Within the university, she will analyse existing career paths together with the institutes and faculties, in order to create a perfect working environment and good working structures for postdocs. This includes support when obtaining third-party funding, major scientific projects or funding programmes, as well as networking and committee tasks, so that postdocs’ issues are suitably considered in committee decisions.