Luise Zühl

PhD student

  1. What fascinates you most about plant science?

I rather have a general fascination for natural sciences as I always wanted to understand the world around me. Also, I find experimental work very exciting and somehow adventurous as you could find out something new which no one ever has seen or known before. My passion for plants developed due to their beautiful appearance and diversity, which surrounded me already since my childhood. And because of their sessile life style, which is quite different than ours as animals, seemed a bit mysterious to me at first, I was curious to learn more about them.


  1. Tell us briefly what scientific questions you are pursuing at MPIPZ

With my work at the MPIPZ I want to better understand how the fascinating diversity of organ shapes arises. For this, I study the genetic roles of two important players during leaf shape development in Arabidopsis thaliana compared to Cardamine hirsuta. These two model organisms are closely related, yet they develop quite distinctly formed leaves and allow us to address evolutionary and developmental questions.


  1. What/who has inspired you greatly in your career so far?

I was very lucky to have had several great, inspirational mentors, who shared their own fascination for biology and plants as well as their experiences with me and who supported me along the way. My scientific curiosity was mainly excited and directed into the right channels by my amazing biology teacher in high school, who had the great talent to explain even complex genetic concepts in an easy and funny way. Later during studies, my enthusiasm for plants and science grew through various botanical excursions in Germany and Europe and several internships in great laboratories.


  1. What do/did you find most challenging in your career so far?

I think the biggest challenges of my career I have experienced during my PhD and were of psychological nature. On the one hand, to accept that my time and energy is limited and therefore I cannot pursue all interesting questions but rather need to set priorities - which is totally ok and human by the way. And on the other hand, to deal with the frustrations caused by two major setbacks, which required to reframe my project, one even shortly before submitting my thesis.


  1. How do you see your future in science and why?

I have dreamed of an academic career for a long time and still love science as such. However, over the past few years I have experienced that the working conditions and uncertain long-term perspectives of academic research, especially here in Germany,  are heavily influenced by the pressure to succeed and to publish, which is mentally quite unhealthy in my opinion. During a career mentoring program at the University of Cologne, I therefore figured out that these circumstances do no longer fit with my personal values and needs and I decided to pursue a career outside of academia after my PhD. How this may look exactly I am currently evaluating; surely it will be related to plants and science and I am very much looking forward to new and interesting challenges.

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