At the Science Faculty, almost half of the scientific staf comes from abroad. Three recently appointed professors tell you how you can make it in Nijmegen as a foreign researcher.
‘In Croatia, teachers have to teach a lot, because the universities often are not financially equipped to appoint people just to do research. In the Netherlands, they often have to teach less, but there are still researchers who are not happy that they have to give lectures. I think contact with students adds value to your professorship. One of my tips for building a scientific career is that you have to make teaching fun for yourself, by using your own research as the basis, for example. Before I ended up at Radboud University, I worked in business and I was external PhD at the university in Leuven. I think it’s good for your academic career if you work in business for a while. It has helped me along, because after three years of practical experience, I understood what was really important in hardware security. For me as a woman, the scientific world is also different than for male scientists. I just came back from a conference in America, where female students could follow classes about networking and building confidence. That doesn’t just happen out of itself. When I applied for a job here, I gave myself little chance, but that turned out to be unjustified. I think that when women see a scientific job offer, they often think: “Unfortunately, I do not match all the criteria.” Still, they should just go for it.’
#2 ‘Keep fighting’ – Physics professor Alexey Kimel, appointed on the 1st of March 2017
‘I came here from Saint Petersburg in 2002, I got my PhD there. The lab I worked in already had a connection to Radboud University and they offered me a post-doc position here. I love to research things and to learn to understand new and unknown things. That is what I like about Radboud University: the institution is open to prestigious projects and it lets its researchers free to do what they want to do, up to an extent. In that, German universities are different, for example. To me, this is a pleasant environment to work in. I see science as top sport, its challenging in a good way. In 2014 and 2015 I wrote a proposal for a Vici grant at the Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research (NWO). That did not turn out to be easy. At first, NWO did not believe in my proposals. But I kept fighting because I think you should power through when you think something is really important. That mentality turned out to be crucial for me. That will be my tip for other scientists: “Keep fighting”. To make it in science, you need perseverance to convince the people who do not believe in you.’
#3 ‘Have fun in what you do’ – High Field Magnet professor Uli Zeitler, appointed on the 15th of March 2017
‘I have the German nationality, am born in Switzerland and came here from France in 1993 as a post-doc. Flexibility is very important for a scientist. I am lucky that my wife has always supported me because doing research is the thing I like most in life. Whatever you do, having fun is the most important. That also counts for science. I think transmitting knowledge to PhD’s and postdocs is enjoyable and important. You have reached success as a scientist when people have learned something from you. The learning starts early, as a child you already have a very curious mindset. In a way, I am still playing, but in a structured manner. That is what I call my job, structured playing. My tip to other researchers would be: do something you actually enjoy. It is the basis of being motivated to understand things. The drive to examine how the world works has helped me make it to professor.’