Steering Committee 2020/2021

Pankhuri Saxena
Network Spokesperson
Leibniz Institute for Primate Research

My name is Pankhuri Saxena. I am a doctoral researcher at the German Primate Center (DPZ) in Goettingen. I am from New Delhi, India and relocated to Germany in 2018. I finished my bachelors and masters studies from IIT in India in Psychology and Cognitive Science. Currently I am investigating the neuropharmacological underpinnings to attentional modulation in macaque visual cortex as part of my dissertation. As a spokesperson, my aim will be facilitate the coordination within the network to promote the concerns and issues faced by today’s doctoral researchers across all the Leibniz institutions. I hope to work together to find workable solutions and encourage good scientific practices.
When I am not working in the lab, I enjoy going for walks, doing Yoga and Salsa dancing. 

E-mail address:

Jan Klenke
Network Spokesperson
German Institute for Global and Area Studies (GIGA)

I studied Political Science at the LMU in Munich and did my Master at the VU Amsterdam. Afterwards I worked as a product manager in a large insurance company in Munich for two years, before I moved back to academia in 2018 to pursue a doctorate in Hamburg. My dissertation project analyzes how China, Brazil and India behave in international climate change negotiations. With climate change and the international power shift at the heart of my research, I am not afraid to tackle the big issues. When off work, I dance ballroom, cook or play video games every now and then.

With my term starting amidst the corona crisis, there sure is a lot to be done to ensure good working conditions for doctoral researchers. And even if many aspects have improved for doctoral researchers over the last years, there are many things to be improved even without the crisis, from a low number of working contracts in some institutes to all kinds of diversity and acceptance aspects across the Leibniz network.


Philipp Koch
Leibniz Institute for Molecular Pharmacology (FMP)

I studied Biochemistry and Molecular Cell Biology at the Eberhard Karls University of Tübingen. For my master thesis, I moved to Berlin and started working at the Leibniz Institute for Molecular Pharmacology (FMP), where I continued with my doctoral research. My work is focused on cellular transport processes and nutrient signaling. In my spare time I enjoy hiking, bouldering and travelling.

I first came in contact with the Leibniz PhD Network as a PhD representative at the FMP. I really admire the work that the Network has done to unite doctoral researchers and its strong efforts to improve the overall situation of doctoral researchers within the Leibniz Association. In my year as a treasurer, I intend to contribute to these important tasks in order to progress towards improved exchange of doctoral researchers within the network and better working conditions.


Ali Dogan
Section A Spokesperson

Leibniz-Zentrum Moderner Orient

After working a year in Saudi Arabia as a consultant for the German Saudi Liaison Office for Economic Affairs, I began my doctoral research at ZMO. My thesis focuses on the collaboration between the Bundesnachrichtendienst and the Iraqi intelligence services. In my free time, I usually play football, ride my bicycle or am trying to increase my very small collection on world maps.

The PhD network allows us to collectively work on specific problems concerning all doctoral researchers at our Leibniz institutes. I specifically aim to promote the communication and networking between the doctoral researchers. It is a unique opportunity for me to create solutions with fellow colleagues from different institutes, different disciplines, and diverse backgrounds.


Serhii Svynarets
Section B Spokesperson
Leibniz-Institut für Länderkunde (IfL)

From my early age I was fascinated by complexity of our world and geography became my key towards the better understanding of it. I started my studies in Human Geography in my hometown of Kyiv, Ukraine and then continued my education path with the master program in Sustainable Development at the Universities of Leipzig and Graz. Already during my last years of masters I became highly interested in the thematic intersection of Regional Development and Migration Studies and thank to my job at the Leibniz Institute for Regional Geography (IfL) I am able to continue my research in this scientific area. In my free time, I like to travel (though it is not that easy in 2020) and cook some homemade treats for my friend and family.

As a person who have quite some experience of working in big heterogeneous teams, I am convinced that interdisciplinary knowledge exchange and networking are extremely important for professional development of any young career researcher.  Leibniz PhD Network is a great platform to unite doctoral researches from various scientific backgrouds and I am sure that collaborations initiated within it will result in something great!


Sandy Bauherr
Section C Spokesperson
German Rheumatism Research Center (DRFZ)

I studied Biology and Molecular Life Science in Berlin at The Humboldt-University and am now in my second year of the PHD at the German Rheumatism Research Center in Berlin. My PHD project in the field of immunology and basic research focuses on rare immune cell populations. I try to unravel the link between their location in the tissue and their function by multiplexed microscopy. When I’m not in the lab and I don’t look through a microscope or on data plots, I’m a passionate board game player and a crazy cat lady that loves stand-up paddling on any kind of water in Berlin and beyond.

Connecting people, providing information and working together – all this has been enabled by the Leibniz PHD network. Talking to people that are in similar situations helps to feel less alone and work through difficult times. I am happy to be a part of the steering committee and look forward to continue this path of important work of networking in the future.


Emilio Perez-Bosch Quesada
Section D Spokesperson
Leibniz-Insitute for Innovations for High Performance Microelectronics

After my experience working with the Survey WG on the 2019 report, I can say that now I have a wider perspective of the working conditions of the doctoral researchers within the Leibniz association. Thus, I think that there is still work to be done in order to keep on improving our scientific atmosphere. I believe that the opportunities that the Leibniz PhD Network brings to us are great means to accomplish this. Furthermore, they are great sources of inspiration to strengthen the communication between junior researchers as well as the diversity of our scientific community among different areas of knowledge.  

I studied a double master degree in Telecommunication Engineering at the University of Jaén (Spain) and Technische Hochschule Mittelhessen (Germany). After finishing my master thesis at the Leibniz-Institut für innovative Mikroelektronik (IHP), I decided to become a PhD researcher and keep on working on the field of microelectronics. Currently, I am working on the implementation of ReRAMs in neuromorphic systems for artificial intelligence applications. In my spare time I enjoy outdoor sports such as hiking and trail running.


Matthias Renz
Section E Spokesperson
Leibniz Institute of Vegetable and Ornamental Crops (IGZ)

I studied Food Chemistry at the JMU in Würzburg and the WWU in Münster. After graduating, I started my PhD at the Leibniz Institute of Vegetable and Ornamental Crops (IGZ) working on glucosinolates. These are secondary plant metabolites present in different vegetables and have been studied for many years for their health-promoting effects. In detail, my research is focused on how thermal treatment affects the stability of glucosinolates. When I’m not in the lab, I enjoy a good run as well as gaming and cooking.

In the Leibniz PhD Network, I love the interdisciplinary get together of doctoral researchers from many different countries and the inspiring atmosphere that it creates. I’d like to raise awareness specifically to the topic of sustainability through individual actions but also including projects of institutes as well as the Leibniz Association as a whole. The Network is the perfect platform to exchange ideas and develop strategies to ensure that also future generations can benefit from a diverse and thriving planet.