Episode #39: Alex Rutherford’s story

Episode #39: Alex Rutherford’s story

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Alex_Rutherford2edAlex Rutherford is a freelance data scientist and entrepreneur with a PhD in Physics from the University College London. He has subsequently undertaken post-doctoral work in complexity science and computational social science using computational techniques to understand why ethnic violence breaks out, how large groups of people can work together remotely and how constitutional reform takes place. His work has been published in Proceedings of National Academy of Sciences and has been covered in the New York Times and Nature among others. 

Alex worked as a data scientist for the United Nations in New York for several years applying computational techniques such as natural language processing and network analysis to aid and inform the development and humanitarian work of UN agencies and NGOs. This has included field work in Mexico, Jordan and Brazil, collaborations with numerous blue chip companies, presence at high level UN events and a handshake from Ban Ki Moon. Alex has lived and studied in Coventry, London, Damascus, Boston, Dubai, New York and Silicon Valley and speaks passable Spanish and Arabic. 

More recently, Alex is the founder of Data Apparel, an organisation selling custom, ethical clothing that uses the power of data and visualisation to promote empathy and debate among global citizens. He is an active Twitter user and blogger. More information and contact details can be found at alexrutherford.org.

The problem that I eventually settled on [for my PhD] fit a few different criteria that were important for me: 1) something involving computers; 2) something that had some real world applicability; 3) be in a big city with the opportunity to stay grounded.

– Dr Alex Rutherford, data scientist and founder at DataApparel

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Episode #38: Katrin Franke’s story

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Katrin Franke
Katrin Franke is Professor of Computer Science and Head of the NTNU Digital Forensics group at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU).

In 2007 she joined the Norwegian Information Security Lab (NISlab) with the mission to establish research and education in digital and computational forensics. In this context she was instrumental in setting up the partnership with the Norwegian police organisations as part of the Center for Cyber and information Security (CCIS) at the NTNU Department of Information Security and Communication Technology (IIK). Dr. Franke has 20+ years experiences in basic and applied research for financial services & law enforcement agencies (LEAs) working closely with banks and LEA:s in Europe, North America and Asia.

Dr. Franke is an alumni of the Technical University of Dresden in Germany with a major in electrical engineering. After graduating in 1994, Dr. Franke began to conduct research at the Fraunhofer IPK in Berlin, Germany where she worked until December 2006 as a scientific project manager. In 2005 she obtained her Ph.D. degree at the Artificial Intelligence Institute, University of Groningen, The Netherlands.

Dr. Franke has published more than 170 scientific articles including one patent. She is involved in the organisation of international conferences; the most prominent among them is the International Workshop on Computational Forensics (IWCF).

Katrin Franke is also an IAPR* Young Investigator Awardee in the year 2009. (* International Association of Pattern Recognition)

Getting a PhD is only level 1 in Super Mario. At level 2, we need to reorientate ourselves.

– Dr Katrin Franke, Professor of Computer Science at NTNU, Norway

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Episode #37: Tips & Tricks on Mental Health during your PhD

Episode #37: Tips & Tricks on Mental Health during your PhD

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20170902_214903Welcome to a special episode of PhD Career stories. Our guests today are Yorick Peterse and Maria Eichel, whom we met at this year’s Max Planck Symposium for Alumni and Early Career Researchers (#MPSAECR) in Berlin, Germany. At this symposium, Maria and Yorick conducted a workshop on Mental Health and also wrote an article about it on the blog of the Max Planck PhDnet entitled The Mental Health of PhD Candidates.

Today, Maria and Yorick will tell us how “normal” it is to encounter mental health challenges during a PhD, which sounds rightfully alarming. There are numerous preventive and coping measures that can ease the situation. Some of these lie in your own hands, some are – and should be – offered to you by the research institution.

Reading suggestions

M Lisa, (Nov 2017) […] for better Graduate Student Mental Health. Academic Mental Health Collective

P Yorick, (Oct 2017) The Mental Health of PhD Candidates. Max Planck PhDnet

A Teresa, (Oct 2017) When the going gets tough, let me counsel you to seek counselling. phdlife.warwick.ac.uk

P Kate, (July 2017) Is it still taboo to take a mental health sick day? BBC News

L Katja et al, (May 2017) Work organization and mental health problems in PhD students. Research Policy 46(4) 868-879, doi.org/10.1016/j.respol.2017.02.008

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Episode #36: David Alich’s story

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David_AlichWhen attending the third Max Planck Career Fair at Harnack-Haus in Berlin earlier this fall, we got the chance to talk to Dr David Alich who works at Capgemini Consulting as Principal for Insight & Data. We talk to David about his decision to leave academia, what he wished he had known before he started his PhD at the Max Planck Institute and how he landed his current position at Capgemini.

I was always asking myself this question: Are you working to live or are you living to work?

– Dr David Alich, Principal Insight & Data at Capgemini Consulting, Hamburg

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Episode #35: Prateek Mahalwar’s story

Episode #35: Prateek Mahalwar’s story

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Dr Prateek Mahalwar

Prateek Mahalwar is originally from India and completed his PhD under the supervision of Nobel laureate Prof. Christiane Nüsslein-Volhard at the Max Planck Institute for Developmental Biology in Tübingen, Germany. During this time, he studied the cellular mechanism of pigment pattern formation in zebrafish. Beside his PhD research, he was involved in several initiatives with Max Planck Society (MPG) stakeholders as the spokesperson and deputy spokesperson of the Max Planck PhDnet in 2015 and 2014 respectively. He has represented the MPG at several internal and external initiatives like Opencon (a global open science initiative), Early Career Researchers (ECR) advisory board member at eLife, science policy meetings with Science Europe and Open Access Ambassadors program at MPG.
Prateek also has an entrepreneurial mind and co-founded two start-ups in parallel to his PhD studies. Currently, he is working as Strategy Manager – Life Sciences at Ernst & Young in Frankfurt, where his tasks include advising biotechnology, pharma and MedTech companies on investment, product commercialisation and digitisation topics.

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Episode #34: Susanna Bächle’s story

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Susanna BächleSusanna Bächle is a scientist with a background in Immunology and Virology. Originally from Germany, she has lived, studied and worked in Germany, Australia, Sweden and the US. After graduating with a PhD in Medical Sciences from Karolinska Institute she moved to Boston (US) to pursue a career at the interface of science and business. At the moment she works for Addgene, a scientific nonprofit organization that aims to accelerate science by facilitating sharing of materials and information. She is passionate about science, innovation, entrepreneurship and global health.

To me a career path is not a line, it really is a zigzag, and often enough a random looking or even ‘lucky’ turn to a new job was determined by a meeting, a follow-up email, a networking event which seemed unimportant at the time but ultimately make up the many small necessary steps for shaping your own ‘luck’.

– Dr Susanna Bächle, Outreach Scientist at Addgene

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Episode #33: Michael Gralla’s tips & tricks

Episode #33: Michael Gralla’s tips & tricks

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z62xzavrd1foz2pvw6dk_400x400Michael Gralla returns for a Tips & Tricks on Career Building, to shed light on what else is important to work on despite your scientific skills. In episode 26 you can hear what motivates him and why he is currently pausing his PhD for is own human capital company.

Linkedin: /michaelgralla
Website: fby – Find the Best in You.
Twitter: @michaelgralla


My three tips: 1) Become an expert in a discipline unrelated to your PhD project. 2) Get out! 3) Be brave.


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