It is always rewarding both for the researcher and his/her supervisor when the efforts are paid back with career steps. This happened recently to SIAM former PD Martyna Glodowska, now appointed Assistant Professor in the Ecological Microbiology Department of Radboud University.
We interviewed her in order to know more about her past, present and future goals:
1. How your PD within SIAM contributed to succeed in this career step?
Doing a postdoc within the SIAM was a great opportunity and the Department of Microbiology at Radboud University is an excellent place for that! Not only I had a lot of scientific freedom to develop my own research ideas and gain independence but also, I obtained a great mentorship and many opportunities for personal development. This postdoc allowed me to develop many crucial collaborations and gain all the necessary skills and experience to move forward in my academic career. I am very grateful for the possibility of doing a postdoc within the SIAM as it also allowed me to attend many conferences and workshops, connect with world-class scientists and extend my scientific network. All of that gave me a lot of confidence and scientific independence that will be certainly necessary in the next step of my career as the Assistant Professor.
2. How important were mentors along your career path?
Extremely important! During my academic path, I experienced both very bad supervision and lack of mentorship but also, I was lucky to have great supervisors and dedicated mentors! It makes all the difference! During my postdoctoral phase at Radboud University, I was very fortunate to have Dr. Welte and Prof. Jetten as supervisors and mentors. I felt supported, valued, and highly motivated. I particularly appreciated all the guidance during the application process for the Assistant Professor position as it was a completely new experience for me. Without their help, it would be so much harder. Talking to my colleagues from different institutions made me realize that having such committed mentors is quite unusual as most postdocs are left on their own to navigate through the academic journey. I feel very lucky and privileged to work in such a supportive and stimulating environment!
3. What will be exactly your new role? (precise appointment, expected duties)
I was appointed for the Assistant Professor position and this will allow me to build my own research group. Therefore, in this new role, I will continue to do research but also, I’ll be doing more teaching and I will be involved in administrative tasks within the Department, Institute, and Faculty. I am very excited to take up this new role that will allow me to gain a new set of skills. Being Assistant Professor means starting my own research team, developing new research lines, supervising Ph.D. students, teaching and coordinating courses, writing grant proposals and acquiring funding, and many more tasks that I will have to take up. This is what makes academia so exciting to me – with such diverse tasks, it is never boring! And it makes me constantly gain new knowledge and learn new skills!
4. How did you prepare for this selection?
It was a long process. Honestly, I didn’t realize how much work and effort it takes to prepare the applications for the faculty position, go through several rounds of interviews, and get ready for all the presentations. As I mentioned my supervisors, but also colleagues helped me enormously in this process. Starting from providing feedback on my written application, going through the mock interviews, and listening to my lectures and scientific presentations. I got a lot of guidance and useful tips on how to improve and what to focus on. I also ask for help from our MSc students! As I have to prepare BSc level course it was extremely helpful to have their feedback and suggestions on the content, difficulty level, and clearness of the lecture but also it was great to hear from their perspective what kind of engagement activities they like and which one they hate. Overall all this was very helpful, and I believe it greatly contributed to my success.
5. From your personal view: Is it crucial for success to go abroad for the postdoc or to complete it in a renowned laboratory (mobility)?
I don’t know if it is crucial, but it certainly helps. I obtained all my university degrees from different countries and it was a great experience! Working within different research groups allowed me to gain interpersonal and communicational skills facilitating interaction with scientists and students from different backgrounds and cultures. I developed great international collaborations, learn many different techniques from various labs, and use sophisticated equipment and fancy facilities, but most important I made a lot of friends! That’s why I love going to conferences because I can meet them and see the progress of their work! The international experience within various research groups made me realize how important it is to create a fair, diverse, and inclusive academic environment – something that I will certainly want to implement in my own group. And of course, being in a known and “prestigious” group also helps. It is good to be affiliated with a lab that has a good reputation and does high-quality research well-recognized in the world of science.
6. How compatible is your work with having a family
Well, this I’ll get to know soon enough. For many women in science it is challenging to start a family. It feels like the time is never right for it. Particularly when you keep moving and changing countries until getting a fixed position. This was also my case. I have been postponing motherhood for quite a long time. Getting a faculty position gave me peace of mind and stability which in my perspective was essential to start the family. I am also lucky that it happens to be in the Netherlands which is supportive for the mothers. The university provides some benefits for women in order to facilitate coming back to science after maternity leave which is absolutely great! Having a baby doesn’t need to mean a break in your career and a gap in a CV anymore. I believe my work and doing science can be compatible with having a family and balanced life. But I’ll see soon how it comes out in practice.
Martyna in the lab