People & Activities

The steering committee of the Leibniz Postdoc Network


Two spokespersons, Dr. Marta Ferreira-Gomes (DRFZ) and Dr. Sami Ullah (DSMZ), two working group coordinators per working group, and one financial officer have been elected to represent the Leibniz PostDoc Network.

For the period of 2021-2022, there are seven working groups that focus on current topical issues within the network. They suggest and implement next steps concerning the following topics:

  1. Postdoc survey
  2. Public communication and advocacy
  3. Network growth and outreach
  4. Working conditions and Mental health
  5. Career development
  6. Diversity and Inclusion
  7. Sustainability

The core topics covered in the working groups may change over time, new topical focuses can be suggested at every annual meeting and will be voted on. Working groups are open to all postdocs in the Leibniz Association. If you want to join a working group, please do so by contacting the spokespersons and the working group coordinators.


Dr. Marta Ferreira-Gomes and Dr. Sami Ullah
Dr. Marta Ferreira Gomes
German Rheumatism Research Center Berlin (DRFZ)

Marta is a Portuguese immunologist working in Germany since 2014. She got her Bachelor’s in Biochemistry and Masters in Medical Biochemistry at the University of Lisbon in Portugal. After that, she moved to Germany, where she started her PhD at the Department of Cell Biology of the University of Jena, investigating the interplay between B cells and the fungus Candida albicans. Her project was developed in close collaboration with the Leibniz Institute for Natural Product Research and Infection Biology – Hans Knöll Institute. Since 2019 Marta has been working as a postdoctoral researcher at the DRFZ Berlin, trying to uncover more about how the body long-term stores its immune memory. Active in the Leibniz Postdoc Network as Financial Officer since 2020, she is now thrilled to embrace this new challenge and help the Network to grow.

Dr. Sami Ullah
Leibniz institute DSMZ – German Collection of Microorganisms and Cell Cultures

Sami received his Bachelor’s degree in medical Biotechnology from University of Malakand, Pakistan in 2010, and a master’s degree in Virology and Immunology from National University of Sciences and Technology, Pakistan in 2012. Sami worked as a lecturer (Immunology) for 3 years at Shaheed Benazir Bhutto University in Pakistan before studying PhD at Helmholtz centre for infection research in Braunschweig, Germany (2015). He developed a novel drug delivery tool using nanoparticles and immune cells which specifically targets the cancer cells in the body. Later, he worked as a postdoctoral fellow at University hospital Tubingen for 1 year and moved back to Braunschweig to work as postdoctoral scientist at DSMZ in Braunschweig. He is currently working on developing cell-based models for different cancers with the aim to reduce the use of animals in medical research. He is excited to work as a cospokesperson for Leibniz PostDoc Network with the goal to create career development and networking opportunities for postdoctoral scientists within the Leibniz Association.

Working Groups

WG 1 – Postdoc Survey

The Postdoc Survey working group started the planning of the first Leibniz Postdoc Survey in fall 2018. The goal of the survey was to systematically collect data on the working situation, career plans, and potential need for training opportunities of postdocs within the Leibniz Association. The first survey was administered in late summer 2020 and examined employment histories, future career plans and training needs, as well as challenges concerning work-life balance or relationships with superiors. Some of the questions were specifically related to the situation of postdocs with an international background. Since the end of 2020, the group analyzes the collected data and prepares a written report. From fall 2021 onwards, the group will start preparing the second survey round.

Working Group Speakers
Dr. Daniela Fiedler
IPN – Leibniz-Institute for Science and Mathematics Education, Kiel

Daniela is a postdoctoral researcher in the Department of Biology Education at the IPN – Leibniz Institute for Science and Mathematics Education in Kiel. She studied Biology with focus on Animal Ecology and Environmental Science at Giessen University, and received her doctorate of science focusing on Biology Education from Kiel University. Her main research interests include teaching, learning, and accepting biological evolution across the educational stages. She is involved in the Leibniz PostDoc Network to link with other postdocs by discussing topics of common interest for postdocs across institutes and disciplines such as personal career paths and challenges concerning life-work balance.

Thomas studied psychology in Darmstadt and received his Ph.D. in psychology at the LEAD Graduate School and Research Network in Tübingen. Currently, he is a postdoc at the team Research Data for Education at the DIPF | Leibniz Institute for Research and Information in Education. His research interests focus on Open Science in education and he works in the development of research infrastructures to support a culture of data sharing. Thomas participates in the PostDoc network to participate in an active exchange of ideas to improve the research culture across the Leibniz Institutes.

WG 2 – Public Communication and Advocacy

The working group Public Communication and Advocacy develops and communicates a shared denominator for the heterogeneous interest group of postdocs. Our intention is to raise the profile of postdocs at the Leibniz Association (and beyond) inside and outside of academia.

Working Group Speakers
Dr. Gregor Kalinkat
Leibniz Institute of Freshwater Ecology and Inland Fisheries (IGB)

Gregor is an animal ecologist at the Leibniz Institute of Freshwater Ecology and Inland Fisheries (IGB) in Berlin. He currently works in a project that aims to develop and test street lightings that reduce negative effects on insects funded via BfN (German Federal Agency for the Protection of the Environment).

Dr. Christian Nehls
Research Center Borstel, Leibniz Lung Center (FZB)

Christian belongs to the division of Biophysics at the Research Center Borstel. Since his physics studies, he has been particularly fascinated by interdisciplinary collaboration on questions with medical relevance. One of his major research interests has been membrane-associated mechanisms of bacterial pathogenicity factors and host defense molecules. As a postdoctoral researcher in a current project of the Leibniz Cooperative Excellence, he is investigating the physical basis of bacterial propagation strategies (A risk index for health effects of mineral dust and associated microbes). Christian engages in the Leibniz PostDoc Network to strengthen the scientific mid-level staff, identify blind spots in the system, and address them through communication.

WG 3 – Network Growth and Outreach

The general aim of this working group is to conceptualise, set up and maintain the communication infrastructure of the Leibniz PostDoc-Network and to expand the reach of the network. We maintain the website, advertise the communication channels like the listserv, and reach out to the PostDoc representatives at the individual institutes. As Felix describes it, this is the “machine room” of the network.  Our goal is to reach every PostDoc within the Leibniz society, so that they can experience the benefit of the network.

Working Group Speakers
Dr. Johanna Callhoff
German Rheumatism Research Center Berlin (DRFZ)

Johanna has been working as a statistician at the German Rheumatism Research Centre Berlin (DRFZ) since 2011 and at the Charité – Universitätsmedizin Berlin since 2021. She obtained her doctoral degree at the Charité – Universitätsmedizin Berlin in 2015. Her research focuses on health services research for persons with musculoskeletal diseases. To get a better knowledge of health care provision in inflammatory rheumatic diseases, she uses observational data from the National Database of the Arthritis Centres and also claims data from a large statutory health insurance.

Dr. Felix Victor Münch
Leibniz Institute for Media Research | Hans-Bredow-Institut (HBI)

Felix is an early career researcher in computational social science with a PhD from the Digital Media Research Centre at QUT (Brisbane, Australia). Currently he works as a Postdoctoral Researcher at the Leibniz Institute for Media Research | Hans-Bredow-Institut (HBI) in Hamburg. With a B. Sc. in Physics (LMU, Munich, Germany), an M. A. in Journalism (LMU and German Journalist School, Munich, Germany) and work experience in online media brand communication as an online media concepter, user experience designer, and strategist, his main fields of interest were recently network science methodologies, social media analytics, big data, data science, and theories regarding the public sphere.

WG 4 – Working conditions and Mental Health

The Working Conditions and Mental Health working group has two main aims: First, we want to address and advocate for key issues postdoctoral researchers face when working at Leibniz Institutes, such as mental health and wellbeing issues, contract issues (i.e., WissZeitVG, Einstufung), and working issues that are particularly exacerbated by the pandemic (i.e., care obligations, contract extensions, social isolation). Based on our international experience, we aim to develop new resources for postdoctoral researchers that help them settling in in Germany. This includes developing a welcome package for Leibniz PostDocs and providing an overview of important official documents that international postdocs need (English versions), resources for networking during the pandemic, and beyond.

Working Group Speakers
Dr. Mine Altinli
Bernhard-Nocht Institute for Tropical Medicine (BNITM)

Mine is a post-doctoral researcher working on virus interactions in mosquitoes at the Bernhard-Nocht Institute for Tropical Medicine (BNITM). After completing her BSc in Biology at Istanbul University in Turkey, she received a scholarship for joining European Masters in Applied Ecology program. She completed a double MSc degree in Christian-Albrechts University of Kiel in Germany and Poitiers University in France. She did her PhD in Evolution of Infectious Systems at Montpellier University in France. Having been a foreign researcher all her academic career, she is familiar with the associated struggles and worries. She now wants to put her experience to good use to help other researchers in similar situations and to improve the working conditions for all post-docs. She firmly believes science needs the diverse perspectives that researchers with diverse backgrounds bring, and this diversity can only be sustained in academia by joint efforts for inclusion and support. She is excited to join Leibniz Postdoc Network, which provides an excellent platform and teamwork to achieve these!

Dr. Gillian Dornan
Leibniz-Forschungsinstitut für Molekulare Pharmakologie (FMP)

Originally hailing from Vancouver, Canada, Gillian received her BSc (Hons) in Biological Sciences, followed by a MSc in Molecular Genetics from the University of Leicester in the UK. Afterward, she joined the labs of Lori Passmore and Andrew Carter at the MRC Laboratory of Molecular Biology in Cambridge, where she was inspired to switch to the study of the structure-function relationship of macromolecular complexes. Taking a leap of faith, Gillian joined John Burkes lab in Victoria, Canada as his first graduate student, where she completed her PhD on how the class I PI3K lipid signaling enzymes are regulated and how they are involved in human disease. Gillian joined the lab of Volker Haucke at the Leibniz-Forschungsverbund für Molekulare Pharmakologie in July 2019 to study the class II PI3K proteins, how they are regulated, and their roles in the cell. Gillian is excited to join the Leibniz PostDoc Network to help establish new resources (i.e., Welcome Package) and advocate for better working conditions for postdocs.

In the Leibniz PostDoc Network, she would like to share her experience with other postdocs, provide more networking opportunities, and contribute to more transparency in Germany’s academic field.

WG 5 – Career Development

The Career Development working group has one main goal: To offer support for the development of essential skills for postdocs. This includes training opportunities on, for example, grant writing, project management, or communication. Hereby, we want to make use of the size and heterogeneity of the Leibniz Association and establish collaborations to make these courses available to a broader audience.

Working group speakers

Dr. Rajini Nagrani
Leibniz Institute for Prevention Research & Epidemiology – BIPS (BIPS)

Rajini completed her PhD in epidemiology in October 2014 from Tata Memorial Centre, Homi Bhabha National Institute, India and thereafter earned a position as Scientific Officer at the same institute. She later worked as Postdoctoral researcher at Medical University of Innsbruck, Austria and since October 2018 is working at Leibniz Institute for Prevention Research & Epidemiology-BIPS, Bremen. Her research interests are non-communicable disease epidemiology, molecular epidemiology and global health. With the Leibniz Postdoc network she would like connect with her peers, provide information on initial administrative procedures and career development.

Dr. Christina Stehle
German Rheumatism Research Center Berlin (DRFZ)

Christina acquired her PhD in immunology at the Deutsche Rheuma-Forschungszentrum (DRFZ) Berlin, focussing on tissue-embedded innate lymphocytes. She continued working in the field of innate immunity at the DRFZ and recently also engages in the Leibniz PostDoc Network exploring the Leibniz community and bringing further career development options.

WG 6 – Diversity and Inclusion

This working group is dedicated to issues of diversity, inclusion, and intersectionality with regard to the functioning of the Leibniz PostDoc Network and the Leibniz-wide workplace. On the one hand, we want to increase the awareness, acceptance, and importance of the differences between individuals within the Leibniz Association. On the other hand, we want to encourage an atmosphere that enhances mutual respect, active participation, and diverse contributions among Leibniz employees. We plan to implement concrete and sustainable practices of inclusion that will address intersectional inequalities.

Working Group Speakers

Dr. Anne Mucha and Dr. Rabea Kleymann
Dr. Anne Mucha
Leibniz-Institut für Deutsche Sprache (IDS)

Anne is a linguist working at Leibniz-Institut für Deutsche Sprache (IDS) in Mannheim. Her research focuses natural language semantics, using formal methods to model linguistic meaning as well as comparative, experimental and fieldwork methods to test these models empirically. She received her PhD from the University of Potsdam for a dissertation on tense and aspect in two under-studied languages of Africa (Hausa and Medumba). Anne has been involved in the Leibniz Postdoc Network from its very beginning and served on the Network’s first steering committee as a section officer. She is excited to be back to support our joint effort to promote diversity and inclusion in the Leibniz Associaton.

Rabea Kleymann
Leibniz Centre for Literary and Cultural Research (ZfL)

Rabea is a postdoctoral Digital Humanities researcher with a focus on posthumanism and (literary) theory. Currently, she is speaker of the German working group “Digital Humanities Theory.” She studied German Literature and Culture, focusing on gender studies, and Film Studies in Hamburg and Mainz. In her recently submitted dissertation, she presented the aggregate as an ordering model for nature and society marginalized in the systems discourse around 1800. As a research assistant at the Universität Hamburg, she was particularly investigating data visualizations for digital literary and cultural studies. Since February 2020 she pursues an interdisciplinary research project on recycling in literature, biology, and technology at the Leibniz Centre for Literary and Cultural Research in Berlin. Her research interests lie in the areas of philosophy of science and prototyping. Being part of the Leibniz PostDoc Network means for her to actively participate in the development of diverse and inclusive research infrastructures.

WG 7 – Sustainability

The sustainability working group is a joint group with the Leibniz PhD Network, being coordinated by Kristine Oevel from the PhD Network

For more information

Financial Officer

Dr. Lydia Repke
GESIS – Leibniz Institute for the Social Sciences (GESIS)

Lydia studied political and administrative sciences at the Universität Konstanz, Germany, including a research stay at Boğaziçi Üniversitesi in Istanbul, Turkey. She graduated from the double master’s degree program European Master in Government of the Universität Konstanz and the Universitat Pompeu Fabra in Barcelona, Spain, where she afterward also obtained her doctor’s degree with a focus on cultural psychology and social networks (2017). Throughout her studies, she was funded by the German Academic Scholarship Foundation. In 2018, she started working as a postdoctoral researcher in survey research and questionnaire design at GESIS – Leibniz Institute for the Social Sciences (GESIS). In 2020, Lydia became a member of the Young Academy of the Academy of Science and Literature | Mainz, Germany. Between 2018 and 2021, Lydia was co-spokesperson of the Leibniz PostDoc Network and is currently its financial officer. Together with her colleagues of the network, she wants to create equal rights and opportunities across all Leibniz Institutes.