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New Board Member Starts: Prof. Frauke Melchior

Prof. Frauke Melchior starts as the head of the newly created scientific division “Life Sciences” (VS-III). This new division encompasses the Institute of Bio- and Geosciences (IBG), the Institute of Biological Information Processing (IBI), and the Institute of Neuroscience and Medicine (INM). Before this, the 58-year-old biochemist was a professor of molecular biology at Heidelberg University’s Centre for Molecular Biology (ZMBH). In an interview with Internal Communications (UK-I), she speaks about her plans for Jülich.

Prof. Frauke MelchiorProf. Frauke Melchior
Copyright: Veronika Solaris

Prof. Melchior, you are familiar with both worlds: research and science management. In which of the two worlds do you feel more at home?

Melchior: I feel very comfortable in both worlds. From my point of view, the two belong together – you can’t have one without the other. I am and always will be a researcher by nature. That isn’t something you just put aside. But no matter what I have studied or researched – organometallic chemistry, plant biochemistry, or SUMO proteins – I have always loved the processes of research more than individual topics. And from these processes, I can transfer a lot to important areas of science management, such as research funding and the transfer of scientific findings into application.

Let’s shift our focus to Jülich: What do you personally find most appealing about your new role as Jülich board member?

Melchior: I find the broad range of scientific topics really fascinating. In Jülich’s Life Sciences division alone, the topics range from neuromorphic computing, Alzheimer’s disease, and plant—soil interactions to biotechnology and biochemical signal transduction. In order to settle in at Jülich and start my work with INM, IBG, and IBI, it helps me that there are aspects in each of the three institutes that overlap a lot with my previous scientific expertise. And at the same time, this makes it easier for me to familiarize myself with the institutes’ other topics, which are new to me.

What do you want to achieve at Forschungszentrum Jülich?

Melchior: I want to create a framework that enables our scientists to work in the best way possible, whether that means providing them with the right research equipment, building and expanding new interdisciplinary bridges, managing evaluations in the best way possible, or successfully transferring knowledge into society and application. I see myself as a driver, stimulus provider, and adviser, while the Board of Directors functions as an executive team that works closely together.

Is there a topic besides science itself that is particularly important to you?

Melchior: As someone who has spent years supporting young researchers – be it doctoral students or temporary group leaders – this has always been a key issue for me. At the German Research Foundation, I was a member of the Senate Committee on Research Training Groups for six years. During this period, I got to know many training concepts for doctoral researchers. And as Vice Dean for research in Heidelberg, I advised many young researchers on their road to becoming a professor. That’s why I want to play an active role in making Jülich even more attractive for young scientists from all over the world.

Thank you for talking to us. We wish you all the best for your start at Jülich.

Interview: Hanno Schiffer (UK-I)