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Advent calendar - December 13th - Jan Peter Birkner

13 December 2023

In the Zernike Institute Advent Calendar, we are presenting 24 short spotlights in December. In these specials, we highlight PhD students, postdocs, support staff and technicians of our research groups and team - providing a glimpse in their typical day at work. In Episode 13 meet Jan Peter Birkner, Research Manager of the Zernike Institute.

Jan Peter Birkner
Jan Peter Birkner

I am a Research Manager at the Zernike Institute for Advanced Materials. Originally, I am trained as a biotech engineer/ biochemist/ biophysicist. But almost exactly ten years ago I left academia without actually leaving academia and decided to transition into my current role. And although it is a management function, much of the concepts I learned before as a scientist came in quite handy: analytical skills, researching information, preparing well, documentation, data management, and of course writing and presenting about various topics.

I always loved the lab work and therefore in the beginning I was quite afraid that an office job might be boring. However, already in the first week I was facing so many different and challenging topics that joy replaced fear. And the factors that created joy were that I got a lot of freedom to explore the role and tasks, take on responsibilities and always felt very strong support of my supervisors, the institute directors.

In the last ten years the role has evolved, I have evolved, and today I wear many hats in my daily work. I guide the strategic processes within the institute, support academic and industrial partnerships, nurture the staff development especially with respect to track record of grants and prizes, am involved in the recruitment of new PIs, take care of the quality management, and manage the public relations. I am also the PhD coordinator and confidential advisor of the institute. By this diversity of tasks in combination with a vivid, multicultural, interdisciplinary team not two days are the same. It is especially the people of the Zernike Institute who make my job absolutely beautiful, enriching and rewarding plus many opportunities to learn something new.

In addition to working for the Zernike Institute, I enjoy spending time with my family and friends, build stuff, train a youth handball team, and do sports myself - I love the self-cleaning feeling of a long bike ride through the fields - just nature and me.

Have a beautiful holiday time and all the best for 2024!

Last modified:11 December 2023 09.00 a.m.

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