Steering Group 2018/2019

Katharina Willenbücher (Spokesperson)

I am a biologist with a focus on molecular biology. After graduating, I worked in an NGO on a political level. From there I found my way back to the laboratory in a company in the private sector. The decision to do my doctorate was easy for me, as I enjoy working and researching scientifically. I have been working on my dissertation since one year and a bit in the field of systematic microbiology at the Leibniz Institute for Agricultural Engineering and Bioeconomics. Here I investigate the microbial processes in biogas reactors and concentrate on the microbial community, which I study with molecular genetic methods (OMICS). In my spare time I like to travel and read whenever I can.

Contact: kwillenbuecher[at]

Jonathan Stefanowski (Spokesperson)

Jonathan Stefanowski

After graduating in biotechnology from Technische Universität Berlin I started my doctoral research in the field of immunology at the German Rheumatism Research Center (DRFZ) understanding bone regeneration with a novel technology for microscopy in the living organism. In my free time I enjoy building closed terrariums and science fiction.

It is obvious that without active support of the doctoral researchers the Network’s work would disintegrate. Therefore, it is of utmost importance to communicate motivation and reasoning to the very people this work is done for – every member of our network. In my opinion the core problem for doctoral researchers in academia is that their position is not respected as a real job but often described as a vocation, which must be embraced by the researcher. It is this believe that allows low payment, long working hours and precarious supervision. And simultaneously promotes the idea that a specific way to do science exists. This mindset must change in order gradually improve working conditions for doctoral researchers and the acceptance of a diversity of working styles.

Contact: jonathan.stefanowski[at]

Bastian Sommerfeld (Financial Officer)


Bastian is a doctoral researcher at the Institute for Atmospheric Physics at the University of Rostock. His fields of interests are theoretical thermodynamics and programming. Currently, he is applying his interests to the study of the effect of the unresolved effects in climate models on the simulation, to ultimately improve these models. During his free time, he loves to climb and likes to read contemporary literature on history, psychology and sociology. In Bastian’s experience, people can make great achievements when they work together. The Leibniz Ph.D. Network is an opportunity to connect in such a way and represent their interests. In fact, student networks have historically played a large role in shaping contemporary academia, and Bastian would like to see this Network play a similar role. As a member of the Leibniz Network, he will work towards these goals.

Contact: sommerfeld[at]

Anja Jahn (Section A)


Anja works currently as a Junior Researcher at the Leibniz Institute for the History and Culture of Eastern Europe (GWZO) in Leipzig in the field of literature studies. In her research she focuses on co-working strategies, aesthetical innovation and processes of language change in Lower Sorbian and Yiddish literature.

Before, she graduated from Humboldt University in Berlin in Slavistics with a thesis on Polish contemporary poetry and has worked at the Foreign Office as a coordinator for a Ukraine project. Besides her academic enthusiasm for the world behind the Spree river Anja enjoys to hit the road eastwards with her camera hunting cityscapes and connect with people.

The Leibniz PhD Network is according to Anja a communicative space to debate the current challenges for young researchers and to develop long term standards for a knowledge-based society.

Contact: anja.jahn[at]

Tim Rottleb (Section B)

I studied Politics and Economics of the Middle East at Philipps Universität Marburg. After completing my studies and working for UN-Habitat in Egypt and the UN World Food Programme in Berlin, I decided to go back to academia. In my work at the Leibniz Institute for Research on Society and Space I am critically exploring the role of International Branch Campuses in the nexus of urban development, economic dynamics and globalisation. I think the Leibniz PhD network is an important platform for self-organisation among the Leibniz PhD students and can serve as an effective tool for their representation.

Contact: tim.rottleb[at]

Lukas Heiberger (Section C)


I studied Biochemistry at the Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität in Munich. After graduation I moved to Berlin where I am doing my PhD at the German Rheumatism Research Center (DRFZ) to comprehend how memory T-cells are maintained throughout life in specialized niches. In my opinion, the Leibniz PhD Network is an great platform for networking which is of utmost importance for young scientist. In line with that, this network has the opportunity to change the work environment of doctoral researchers so that everyone within the Leibniz Association can benefit from homogenous standards like equal salary. During my leisure-time I enjoy cycling and photography.

Contact: lukas.heiberger[at]

Pablo Fook (Section D)


Pablo Fook is a doctoral researcher at Leibniz Institute for Materials Engineering (IWT) in Bremen. As a Materials engineer graduated in Brazil, Pablo’s work provides a theoretical and practical basis for the high-efficiency machining of ceramic dental products. Herein, his research is based on monitoring of machining parameters and their correlation with overall bioceramic workpiece integrity. In Pablo’s opinion, the Leibniz PhD Network is a fantastic tool to share experiences and contacts during and after the PhD period. Moreover, the network can ensure a good work environment and fair payment practices. In free time Pablo likes to cook vegetarian food, run and dance forró. He also supports the Corinthians and Werder Bremen football teams.

Contact: fook[at]

Aman Malik (Section E)


Aman is currently a doctoral researcher in the Group of Energy System Modelling at the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research. His current work involves analysing mitigation pathways for developing countries, especially how they can prevent getting locked into a high fossil-fuel-use-pathway.

Aman finds the Leibnitz PhD Network a relevant platform to develop skills that today’s young scientists need to have – sharing experiences, networking, and collaborating on interdisciplinary research. He joined the PhD Network steering committee with the aim of promoting information exchange, like supervision agreements and ideas for events, among institutes in the network. For this purpose, he hopes to establish a central database.

Contact: amalik[at]