First-Person Report: Jonathan West
Jonathan West is a postdoctoral researcher at the Institute for Analytical Sciences (ISAS) in Dortmund. He enjoys research in Germany as much as living in Germany.
What project/theme are you currently working on?I work on a variety of projects, either directly or in the role of a supervisor and in other cases to provide technical support. Currently, my main interest is in the development of surface patterning methodologies. These can be used for autonomous 'virtual wall' microfluidics, or for organised cell culture either in the form of arrays or other patterns. This is a particularly exciting area of microtechnology that can be used to enable high throughput cell biology or used to explore the fundamentals of cell behaviour.
What fascinates you most about your work?The diversity at ISAS is great. In the first instance there's so many different research projects happening, and this is coupled with the spectrum of scientists and engineers required to undertake these projects. ISAS also hosts scientists from all over the world, giving it a great international flavour. These things together make ISAS a vibrant work environment.
What are the reasons you chose Germany for research?When I first saw the job advert to work in Dortmund on an exciting project with one of the world leaders of my field I knew this would be a great opportunity. Of course, not all research centres are equal, and it was the tour of ISAS that really impressed me: Seeing all manner of equipment, both new and old, in all the different labs was a delight for me, and it was also so encouraging to see the people industriously getting their 'hands dirty' and making progress with their research. Speaking to the different people also gave me a sense of a friendly and cooperative work place. In the end taking the job was a no brainer; ISAS was a place where I could have fun and excel in my research.
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What do you think about Germany as a science and research location?Germany has a great history of science and engineering. When you live and work in Germany you really get a feel for this deep rooted tradition and the ambition to ever build upon it. Today I believe German research remains world class. Germany is the hub of research in Europe, both for quality and its central location. Whether it's for conferences, project meetings, education or return visits to family and friends Germany is ideally located. Perhaps the most important thing is that Germany takes science and engineering seriously; Germany values research. Research is a costly business and the government have provided a healthy level of investment for infrastructure as well as project funds. In addition, Germany is notably active within the framework of the European Union.
How do you like living and working in Germany? What kind of experiences have you had?Living and working in Germany has a lot going for it. The quality of life is excellent, and it's not just what you can afford with your salary. Without any hint of being boring, Germany is quite simply wonderfully civilised. The German stereotype us Brits have been led to believe is far from the truth. The Dortmund people are really down to earth, friendly and with a great sense of humour. And yeah, you really can't beat the hospitality of the Dortmund people. All this made me feel immediately welcome, and it was no time at all before I felt settled in to life in Germany, both at work and at play. My German is less than proficient, but it was no problem to get along at work. For practising though, the ladies at the supermarket checkouts give you no option. One last thing worth mentioning is the Turkish food; lecker! (tasty!).
In one sentence: Is there anything you really love in Germany?The one thing I cherish the most is the freedom to work with so many great and enthusiastic scientists.
academics.com :: April 2008