A Biochemist’s Discovery of Neurobiology

It is said that traveling broadens the mind. However, what is important for new experiences and a wider world view is the attitude when traveling. An enthusiastic traveler once said, ‚There is nothing wrong with setting goals, as long as you don’t let it keep you from setting interesting detours’. This little quote from Mark Twain describes quite well how Cole Wilson came to Forschungszentrum Jülich. The objective is quite clear in this comparison: gaining experience abroad and in research; the detour is the research field that awaited the young biochemist in Germany. But let’s start right from the beginning.

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Dreaming big for a better future

Science and scientific exchange can create the foundations for a peaceful society. That’s the view of Dr. Sabreen Hammouda. The physicist lives in Garching and works as a postdoc in the PGSB Returner Program at the Jülich Centre for Neutron Science, Neutron Methods (JCNS-4). During her doctoral studies in Germany, the young scientist conducted research at Forschungszentrum Jülich. After her time in Garching, she has the opportunity to return to Palestine, however, she is already committed to supporting Palestinian students and actively shaping the research landscape in her home country.

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Or: Insight into the culture, life and, of course, the science of Japan

Many people associate Japan with cherry trees in full bloom, snow-capped Mount Fuji, delicious food and friendly people. However, this highly technological country has much more to offer than these stereotypes. For example, Japan is also characterized by a diverse research landscape and top-class scientists. Felix Cüppers has the opportunity to get to know Japan’s scientific landscape during his fellowship. He is a doctoral student at the JARA Institute Energy-efficient information technology (Peter Grünberg Institute, PGI-10) and will spend a total of six months at the Tokyo Institute of Technology.

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The data described in this post were collected and analyzed as part of the project „Developing and implementing a D&I strategy for FZJ“

In the last post, we described  how qualitative interviews were collected to better identify some of the Center´s strengths and weaknesses regarding D&I. . In addition to the personal experiences of members of marginalized groups, through the project we also focused on assessing FZJ ability to integrate diversity and inclusion perspectives into its main functions. Today, we would like to talk in more detail about the Diversity & Inclusion Audit that was run during the first stage of our project.

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The data described in this post were collected and analyzed as part of the project „Developing and implementing a D&I strategy for FZJ“

After the Diversity & Inclusion project was given the green light by the Board of Directors in August 2020, the first goal of the firstProject Board meeting in January 2021 was conducting a comprehensive assessment of the status quo at FZJ as it concerns diversity and inclusion.

In order to obtain a detailed picture of the current D&I capabilities of FZJ, various tools were employed.. For example, an employee survey was conducted to obtain quantitative information on employees experiences and perceptions of the research center work environment. Further, semi-structured interviews were collected to better understand under-represented employees experiences at the Center. The main question we wanted to answer through qualitative interviews was, “How do underrepresented and minority employees experience their work life at FZJ?”

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About the adventure of living in another country and returning home

As diverse as the countries of this earth are, the people who inhabit them are equally diverse. The saying: ‘Different land, different customs’ sums this up perfectly. Of course, this difference can cause worries, especially if you plan to live in another country for a longer period of time. This was the experience of Dr. Nour Maraytta. The young scientist had the courage to leave her home country of Palestine to move to Germany for three years and complete her doctorate here.

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“The most dangerous of all worldviews is the worldview of people who have not seen the world.” Alexander von Humboldt. Stays abroad help to better understand project partners, their wishes, needs and opinions. To expand your own horizons – both personally and professionally – stays abroad are irreplaceable.

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By Philipp Schaps

How can we incorporate the basic ideas of equity, diversity, and inclusion in our project work and fill them with life? How can we achieve the desired change as efficiently as possible? How can we take aspects of shared leadership into account?

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A very short story of how our diversity, equity, and inclusion journey began

Diversity and inclusion is not a project, it is a long-term commitment…or at least this would be my first reaction if someone told me that they were initiating a project to enhance diversity, equity, and inclusion within their organization. There is no on/off switch. Committing to D&I is more like embarking on a life-long journey than a hundred-meter sprint. Still, this does not mean that we have to move forward like Alice, following a white rabbit down a hole with no clear goals or direction. D&I is not a wandering in the hope of getting back home in time for tea. It requires intentionality, planning, and coordination. The temptation to hit the trail as quickly as possible might be strong, especially when we know that a long journey is ahead of us. Yet, it would be a very bad idea to set out on the road without knowing exactly where we are going, with whom, and which intermediate milestones we might need to reach before arriving at our destination. I found that in several cases, the problem is not to agree on abstract D&I statements, but rather on details such as “how do we get there”, “what needs to be changed”, “how” and “by whom”.

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As a diversity and inclusion practitioner, I like talking about why organizations should commit to diversity, equity, and inclusion. I put my full hearth and energies in what I do and those around me probably know how passionate I am about helping research and educational institutions to build a more inclusive and equitable environment for students, employees and society at large. Nevertheless, once, a friend made me notice that I might come across as rather cynical in professional settings. I would call that pragmatism instead…It is true, however, that when I talk about diversity and inclusion (D&I) I tend to focus more on the business case rather than moral arguments. If I do so, nevertheless, it is just because I think they are more effective when I address a wide and composite audience with a variety of opinions and political leanings.

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