"I want to foster a feeling of belonging."

Postdoc representative Sarah Duponchel on her role at our institute

My name is Sarah Duponchel, and I’ve been a postdoc at the institute since 2017.

I work in the lab of Matthias Fischer on the interaction of giant viruses, virophages and their hosts.

I love science because I like to understand what I don’t and reveal the unknown. Working on viruses is especially exciting because they are so tiny but have such tremendous effects on their hosts. They are inert in themselves but extremely powerful, and I want to understand their strength.

I like working at the institute because I enjoy working with Matthias Fischer on a very new subject, which I am passionate about. I love being around so many experts in various fields. We always share expertise, and that is very valuable for our research.

I became a postdoc representative because it is important to me to give this group a voice at our institute and in the Max Planck Society in general. I want to raise the issues that concern a large and diverse group of people. I also want to encourage among my peers the feeling of belonging. Besides loving science, I enjoy helping others and sharing my experience with new postdocs. It’s also a great way to get an insight into the different stages of a scientific career, with their pros and cons.

Since my election in 2017, I have worked closely with the PhD representatives on various topics. We started a monthly PhD/Postdoc seminar and introduced weekly beer hours. We want to foster a sense of community within the institute, and we organized the scientific and social programs for two of the institute-wide retreats. I also advise individuals on diverse subjects (administrative problems, family). The Max-Planck-wide PostdocNet was established recently: I joined this network, and it is a great place for working towards the recognition of postdocs as a diverse community defined not only by their post-PhD status but also by their function and role in each lab.

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