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If you’re reading our WiRe blog, (Welcome, by the way!) chances are you have a favourite scientist, or might be able to name some of the greats who have contributed invaluably to science: their discoveries, impact, and legacies positively affect people and societies across the globe.

How many scientists of this caliber on your list of personal favourites are women? If we were to guess your answer based off history and statistics alone, there may very well be more men than women on the roster.

Julie: Researching the history of exhibition and art criticism

Dr Julie Sissia. © Dr Julie Sissia

Bonjour! I am Julie, I was born in Lyon and I live now in Paris. Since the beginning of my university education, and even before, I have been attracted to Germany, its language and culture, especially art and literature, and particularly Romanticism! I lived in Cologne for 3 years, and spent several research stays in Berlin and other lesser-known places like Nürtingen around Stuttgart!

I am an art historian, with specialisation in the art of the second half of the 20th century. My research focuses on the history of exhibitions and art criticism, which I approach through the lens of Franco-German dialogue and the question of identity – always plural and fluctuating.

Fun fact: In Münster, I will be interested in the Skulptur Projekte, an art event I discovered by mere chance in 2008 during a train journey. I didn’t expect to come back and study it!

Rui: Works on smartphone usage and psychological wellbeing

Dr Rui Sun. © Dr Rui Sun

Hi, my name is Rui Sun. I was born in China but have been living in Europe since 10 years ago. I am a social psychologist with wide research interests including smartphone usage, social media, social connections, and psychological wellbeing. For the WiRe fellowship, I will work on smartphone usage and psychological wellbeing among couples.
I got my previous postdoc training at the Department of Social Psychology, University of Amsterdam (UvA), working on positive emotion experience across cultures. Before joining UvA, I completed my PhD in social psychology at the University of Cambridge, my MRes of Cognitive Neuroscience at University College London, and my BS in Psychology at Peking University. 

In my spare time, I love doing all sorts of sports; my new hobby is windsurfing 🙂

Mariagiulia: Exploring EU and State responsibility beyond borders

Dr Mariagiulia Giuffre. © Dr Mariagiulia Giuffre

Hi, my name is Mariagiulia (Giulia), I’m Italian and I work in the UK. Though I love warm weather, I have spent many years in cold countries (Finland, Sweden, the Netherlands, the UK, and now Germany)!

My research? Let’s say that to limit onwards movements of migrants and refugees to Europe, the EU and its Member States have increasingly opted for a strategy based on the full externalisation of migration and border controls, mostly through dedicated financial and technical support to third countries of origin or transit in Africa. European States are also preventing arrivals by means of non-rescue or delays in the succours of migrants in distress at sea. What responsibility do States have in case of human rights violations committed beyond their territorial borders? What is the content and scope of the right to life?

Anna: Wants to know what makes a plant happy

Dr Anna Podgorska. © Dr Anna Podgorska

I was born in Warsaw (Poland) but I went to school in Hamburg (Germany). Then I moved back to Poland and received my PhD in Biology. After a few more years of work, I’m now back for a short visit in Germany where I’m getting to know Münster. The research group that welcomed me here is called “Plant Energy Biology” which is similar to my home laboratory called “Plant Bioenergetics” and therefore joining our powers together makes sense. These terms also reveal my research interests, which are based on the energy that drives metabolism including redox chemistry, oxidative stress and intracellular signaling. Here I can make use of specific biosensors to get insight into what is actually happening in vivo in plant tissues.

Let’s say I can trace what a plant is feeling or if it is stressed. Based on changes in redox state, I want to know what is the preferred source of nitrogen to feed to a plant. If a researcher is using the wrong nitrogen fertilizer, a lot can go wrong; its metabolic disturbances are is still not fully understood. False nitrate application causes a lot of ecological problems and can be dangerous for human health, while ammonium leads to plant growth suppression. In the end, everything comes down to maintaining sustainable agriculture.

Fun fact: I know how plant metabolism works on an organelle scale but I can’t help you with your Monstera turning yellow, and can’t make your tomatoes produce more fruits.  

Debdatta: Works on building the world’s thinnest optics

Dr Debdatta Ray. © Dr Debdatta Ray

I am Debdatta Ray and I am Indian by origin. My life seems like “Comedy of Errors” as I am continuously mistaken for a guy since my name is similar to both genders!! 

Nevertheless, similar to my native country, my academic career boasts of diversity as well. I started out my Bachelor’s in Electronics and Communication Engineering in Kolkata, situated in the eastern part and the 3rd largest metropolitan city in India. I continued to do my Master’s in Photonics at the Indian Institute Of Technology, Madras (IITM), a city on the coast of the Bay of Bengal. During this time, I had my first interaction with Germany as I had spent 7 months at the University of Stuttgart in DAAD Exchange Scholarship. For my PhD, I moved to the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology, Lausanne (EPFL) in Switzerland, a country also known as “heaven on Earth”. 

My research aims to build the world’s thinnest optics!! I work on patterning hundreds of micrometer sized area with nanometer sized structures and investigate the effects as light of different colours fall on them. This requires very special environment called “clean room” where the air is almost dust free. 

It’s our very favourite time to get outside and enjoy Münster. Quick, while the sun is still shining!

In Münster, Summer is the season with the most rainfall all year around. But don’t worry – despite Münster’s perception as a rain-laden city, Summer is also the season with the highest average of daily sunhours. So enough time to get outside and enjoy the city!

Blooming daffodils, chirping birds and rising temperatures – Winter is over, Spring is here!

Who doesn’t love the first warm and sunny days of the year? When you cross the threshold in the morning expecting it to be cold outside but then you’re breathing the fresh but gently warm spring air.
In Spring, Münster appears in a completely new light. Once the city rouses from its hibernation, there are colorful spring flowers all around and trees are slowly turning green with the growth of new leaves. It’s also the season with the least rain which encourages people to head out into nature and evokes the feeling of spring at the end of a long winter.

However, were at WIRE are celebrating ace research by women in science every single day: We’re blown away by Kornelia’s efforts in tackling ovarian cancer by utilizing the so-called SPOCK1 protein as well as Joana’s attempts to better monitor wildfires in tropical ecosystems form above the ground via satellites. Carla’s efforts as an experimental petrologist to better understand what happens pressure-wise deep down underneath volcanoes are stunning. Also we’re amazed by Madalina’s important insights into nature narratives and why, in the context of climate change, there is an urgency to reflect on how nature and gender are narrated in our medicalized, patriarchal societies.


About…

Blogging… © WiRe / Nikolaus Urban

We are happy you made it to our blog! Astrid, Niko, Katharina, Ally and some wonderful WiRe-postdoc ladies are blogging here – mostly twice a month…depending on what else we have to get done:-). We are part of the “WiRe – Women in Research” -Team of the International Office / Welcome Centre of the University of Münster.


WiReWomen in Research is a Fellowship programme for outstanding junior female postdocs at the University of Münster in Münster, Germany. Read, see and listen with what passion and persistence our fellows pursue their exciting research projects at the WWU and how they explore Münster!