Month: December 2020

E035 From PhD in Biotechnology to European Commission & European Food Safety Authority

Aleksandra Lewandowska is a PhD candidate at Universiteit Gent and Vrije Universiteit Brussel. Her joint PhD project combined genetics, plant physiology and biochemistry to understand how plants react to stress. After four years and long hours in the lab as well as in the greenhouse, she came to the conclusion that it’s time to look beyond the wetlab careers and think about the next steps.

Without even having to move countries, after her PhD funding finished, she was lucky to secure a place at the Blue Book traineeship scheme at the European Commission. While working in the Directorate-General for Research and Innovation, she had a look at the process of science-based policymaking, particularly related to Circular Economy. She now continues her EU institution journey during her internship at the European Food Safety Authority, where she is a part of the Emerging Risks team.

Aleksandra has been involved in various science outreach and communication activities since 2005. While she contemplated a full-time SciComm career, she now believes that any science-related job should include a communication component.


E034 What Is Special about Academia? How to Help PhDs Do Better Science?

Dr. Jonathan Weitzman is a full-professor of Genetics at the Université de Paris and the founding director of the Center for Epigenetics and Cell Fate (UMR Epigénétique et Destin Cellulaire). He trained at the University of Manchester and the University of Oxford, UK. He worked at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, Harvard Medical School, Boston, USA and was a faculty member at the Pasteur Institute in Paris. Jonathan has a background in signal transduction pathways and expertise in gene regulatory networks and epigenetic contributions to disease. Jonathan has authored over 60 research articles and reviews and published two books for a lay audience.

Jonathan is also passionate about teaching and is heavily committed to training and mentoring young researchers; he directs the European Masters’ in Genetics (Magistère de Génétique) at the Université de Paris and the Ecole Universitaire de Recherche G.E.N.E. Jonathan has led many interdisciplinary initiatives including the Laboratoire d’Excellence “LABEX Who Am I?” a research consortium focusing on questions of identity, the Académie Vivante, an innovative Art-Science teaching initiative and the “Dance Your PhD” graduate project. He is the co-host of the podcast “The Lonely Pipette; helping scientists do better science” (

Niels Zondervan

E033 The Blockchain World Needs Phds! From Biotechnology to Bitcoin Wallet Recovery

Niels Zondervan MSc is the founder and owner of the company Wallet Recovery NL. Niels is scientist and entrepreneur with a background in Biotechnology and Bioinformatics. During his four years as PhD student, Niels worked at the department of Systems & Synthetic Biology at Wageningen University. His research focused on pathogenic bacteria such as M. tuberculosis, M. pneumonia as well as Staphylococcus and Streptococcus species. These bacteria were studied using integration of multi-omics data, dynamic modelling, and genome scale modelling (GEM). After spending four-year in academia, Niels decided to switch career path from academia to entrepreneurship to find a better balance between his professional and family life.

In 2019 he founded his consultancy company, Wallet Recovery NL ( which provides: recovery services for cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin, blockchain forensics services and expert advice to crypto and blockchain related projects. In his free time Niels likes to be involved in boards, discussion groups, crypto projects, practice parkour, martial arts, play the piano and travel the world.