Branch out!

Alumni career series for (plant) scientists

Get insights into different career paths and benefit from personal experiencs of our Alumni!

There are plenty of career options for (plant) scientists and finding your personal career objectives is very challenging for most early career researchers. Therefore, we are very happy that Alumni of our programs are willing to share insights about their career with current PhD students and postdocs from our programs as part of our new career series.

The Alumni career series are a great opportunity to explore different careers, get a hint of what you can grow into and benefit from personal career experiences of our Alumni!

Branch Out! 2022


The 'Branch out! Career Day 2022' took place on December 2, 2022 at the Max Planck Institute for Plant Breeding Research.

The key note talk of Sarah O ́Connor was followed by short talks and discussions with the speakers of the different panels. Following the main program in the lecture hall, which was broadcast via zoom, in-person attendees were able to network and meet the speakers in "Get Connected" Sessions. The event ended with a joint dinner.

Sessions and Speakers


  • Sarah O ́Connor (MPI for Chemical Ecology, Germany)


  • Diarmuid O'Maoileidigh (Maynooth University, Ireland)
  • Moritz Nowack (VIB-Ugent Center for Plant Systems Biology, Belgium)
  • Wilma van Esse (Wageningen University, Netherlands)
  • Sarah O ́Connor (MPI for Chemical Ecology, Germany)


  • Florian Hahn (Ivy Farm Technologies, United Kingdom)
  • Markus Berns (BASF, Netherlands)
  • Henning Frerigmann (Chr. Hansen, Germany)
  • Hugo Hofhuis (Keygene, Netherlands)
  • Maria Salazar-Rondon (BioEcho, Germany)


  • Luise Hecker geb. Brand (Miltenyi, Germany)
  • Ulla Kemi (Faculty of Education, University of Lapland, Finland)
  • Melanie Sapp (University Hospital in Düsseldorf, Germany)
  • Stijn Spaepen (Leuven Institute of Beer Research, Belgium)

The 2022 'Branch out! Career Day' 2022 was organized by a group of Postdocs from the MPIPZ and CEPLAS. Members of the organizing committee were Jan Buchmann, Martina Cerise, Ranju Chutia, Vítor Falavigna, Anchilie Mangilet, Yohanna Miotto, Nicholas Russell, Megan Sierz and Jia Yu. The organization was supported at the coordinator level by Francesca Stomeo (MPIPZ Scientific Coordinator), Stephan Wagner (Coordinator MPIPZ Graduate School) and Juliane Schmid (Coordinator CEPLAS Postdoc Program).

Branch Out! 2021


The 'Branch out! Career seminar series 2021' took place from late August 2021 to mid-September 2021 on three Friday afternoons (online via Zoom).

Sessions and Speakers

August 27: Careers in Industry - R&D and consultancy

  • Dr. Panpan Jiang, Project Lead at BASF Vegetable Seeds, Netherlands, as of August 2021 scientific manager I product support at Bayer AG, Germany
  • Dr. Claire Lessa Alvim Kamei, Team Lead DNA Operations at Hudson River Biotechnology, Netherlands
  • Dr. Filipa Tomé, Innovation consultant at Innovayt A/S, Portugal
  • Dr. Felix Frey, Consultant, VDI/VDE Innovation + Technik GmbH, Germany & Freelancing Consultant, The Global Crop Diversity Trust, Germany

September 10: Careers in Academia:

  • Dr. Yang Bai, Principal investigator at the Chinese Academy of Sciences, China
  • Dr. Sara Farrona, Principal investigator at the Plant & AgriBiosciences Centre (PABC), Ryan Institute, National University of Ireland
  • Prof. Dr. Maria von Korff Schmising, Full professor at Heinrich Heine University Düsseldorf, Germany
  • Dr. Peter K. Lundquist, Assistant professor at Michigan State University, USA

September 17: Careers in the Public sector - Research, education and data management & Technology Transfer

  • Dr. Silke Gerlich, Postdoc at the Institute for Advanced Simulation - Section Materials Data Science and Informatics (IAS-9) at Forschungszentrum Jülich & HMC (Helmholtz Metadata Collaboration); previously Coordinator at Studienstiftung des Deutschen Volkes, Bonn
  • Dr. Maida Romera Branchat, MSC Programme Coordinator at Münster University
  • Dr. Mara Schuler-Bermann, Start-up Advisor-Technology Scout, Saarland University
  • Dr. Antonella Succurro, Scientific Officer at the West German Genome Center (WGGC) and Life and Medical Sciences (LIMES) Institute, Bonn

The 2021 seminar series was organized by a team of coordinators, namely Petra Fackendahl (coordinator IRTG iGRAD-PLANT), Elisa Garcia (postdoc coordinator MPIPZ), Stephan Wagner (coordinator MPIPZ Graduate School), Nadine Rademacher (coordinator CEPLAS Graduate School) and Juliane Schmid (coordinator CEPLAS Postdoc Program).

Organizing institutions


for more information or feedback please contact your program coordinator or write an Email to

branchout[at] or office[at]