First-Person Report: Magali Solé
Magali Solé is a post-doc at the Department of Environmental Microbiology at the Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research - UFZ in Leipzig, Germany.
What project/theme are you currently working on?I am presently working on aquatic fungi. My research focuses on different aspects of their ecology like the diversity and structure of their communities, or their capacity to degrade pollutants (especially emerging micro-pollutants arising from industrial activities). This combined approach is important to develop new tools for assessing anthropogenic stresses on ecosystem health.
What fascinates you most about your work?I am fascinated by the interdisciplinary aspect of the research conducted at the Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research - UFZ. The UFZ is a big research centre comprising more than 30 departments and 900 employees distributed to the thre locations Leipzig, Halle and Magdeburg. Although we are all integrated to common research programmes (POF "Programme-Oriented Funding of the Helmholtz Association") we all treat a different aspect of the subject, with different skills and views, and employing different methods. This amazing diversity makes our research quite complementary and efficient. You are never "slowed down" by technical aspects; you really have the opportunity to concretize your ideas and projects.
What are the reasons you chose Germany for research?I studied in France at the Universities Lille I and Paris XI. I came to Germany for my Ph-D and I must say that I came to Germany "by chance". I found the announcement of my Ph-D in a worldwide directory addressed to Evolutionary Sciences. At that time, the topic of the Ph-D really fitted to what I wanted to do, so I decided to apply and then to come. Of course as French I came with some apriori about "Germany like you know it from school", because of the common past history of both countries, but this feeling rapidly dissipated. I had the chance to come to Halle/Saale (Central Germany), a beautiful historical city with a great architecture and culturally dynamic with many orchestras, festivals, theatres and galleries... On one side, the institutions of the university are dispatched in historical buildings all over the city, but the scientific campus, where the "Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research - UFZ, Halle" is located, is a large Technology Park with many other brand new research institutes in domains of biochemistry, biology, biotechnology, environmental sciences and physics, and regroups an important international scientific community. All together, I can say that I liked it very much, and I decided to stay.
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What do you think about Germany as a science and research location?Germany offers excellent opportunities for research with the existence of numerous Universities having a long tradition as well as large research organizations not belonging to universities, like the research centers belonging to the Helmholtz Association. The closed collaboration of both kinds of institutions in "competence networks" is often encouraged by German funding programs. German research programs are well-funded, well organized and easily accessible through organizations like the Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF), or the German Research Foundation (DFG). Another point important to me is the particularity of Germany to support the mobility and the exchanges of Scientists by offering special funding programs, which makes research in Germany quite international and dynamic.
How do you like living and working in Germany? What kind of experiences have you had?It's very pleasant to work in the field of Environmental Sciences in Germany. It is well known that Germany has got a long tradition for research and policy in the domain of Ecology. The majority of Germans feels concerned with ecology. Then, it is very enjoyable to work in this atmosphere, to see people interested in your work and to see that your work is recognized by others than the scientific community.
What I also really like in Germany for the daily life is that the culture is accessible to everybody. Of course Germany has a long tradition of classical music, which might explain that almost each regional city has got is own orchestra, but this is generally also true for operas, theatres or museums... You don't need to go to the capital to see the latest exhibitions.
In one sentence: Is there anything you really love in Germany?Working! I would say Germany is ideal to work and France ideal to spend holidays.
academics.com :: May 2008