Panel Discussion – The PhD Odyssey


This discussion will feature four professionals from different disciplines, who have been through the PhD journey and continued their careers through different paths. There will be two professors at the top of their career paths; an academic and appointed knight for her contribution to science in Environmental Psychology, accompanied by a director of a top financial institution. In addition, there will be two young professionals at the beginning of their careers. A tenure track assistant professor in Biophysics, and a software developer in the IT industry. During the panel discussion, we aim to highlight the specific journey of each panel member starting at higher education up to now, and get a better understanding on the plans they set for themselves and the struggles they had to overcome.

We will pose questions such as: ‘Did you always have a clear view on the path you wanted to follow after your PhD?’ and ‘Are there things in your career which you would have done differently?’, while also asking them for tips for current PhD students who are aiming to follow in their footsteps. The audience will be able to ask questions or make comments throughout the whole discussion.


Dr. Romana Schirhagl

Romana Schirhagl graduated in 2009 from Vienna University at the age of 24. She has been a postdoc at Stanford University and ETH Zurich. Since 2014, she is leading her own group in the Department of Biomedical Engineering. Her research interests are in diamond magnetometry, a new technique which emerged from the quantum information field and allows nanoscale MRI. Romana´s team pioneers the use in biological applications.




Prof. Dr. Linda Steg

Linda Steg is a professor of environmental psychology at the University of Groningen. She studies factors influencing sustainable behaviour, the effects and acceptability of strategies aimed at promoting sustainable behaviour, and public perceptions of technology and system changes. She is a member of the Royal Netherlands Academy of Sciences (KNAW), and lead author of the IPCC special report on 1.5°C and AR6. She participates in various interdisciplinary and international research programmes and collaborates with practitioners working in industry, governments and NGOs.





Klaas Knot

Prof. Dr. Klaas Knot

After obtaining his PhD, Klaas Knot started his career at De Nederlandse Bank. Here he continued his journey up to becoming director of the bank in 2011. In addition, Klaas maintained his function as Professor in Economics of Central Banking at the Rijksuniversiteit Groningen.



Dr. Marc Raupach

My name is Marc Raupach. I studied chemistry at the Philipps-Universität Marburg in Germany. I specialized on theoretical and computational chemistry. After receiving my Diplom-Chemiker degree – comparable to master of science degree – in 2011, I started my PhD studies in the field of computational chemistry with the focus on calculating chemical bonding indices between molecules and surfaces. In 2015, I finished my PhD studies successfully. Afterwards, I took over a post-doctoral position at Software for Chemistry; Materials (SCM) in Amsterdam. Here, the focus was on calculating absorption spectra for semi-conductor surfaces and software development.

After my postdoc period ended in 2017, I decided not to continue my carrier in computational chemistry – neither in academia, nor in industry. Instead I wanted to focus on my software development skills which I acquired during my studies so far. Hence, I applied for software developer positions. That is how I got to work for the IBM ClientInnovation Center in Groningen as a developer for web applications and for robotic process automations.