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Thriving in an intellectually diverse setting

Evelien Hermeling, Biomedical Researcher

What to do when, as postdoctoral researcher you feel you’re missing intellectual diversity, but biomedical research is what you live for? You start looking for your dream job: Working as biomedical researcher for a company that bridges the gap between academia and industry. Where brilliant minds, working in multi-disciplinary teams, turn great ideas into ground-breaking, sustainable solutions. This is the story of Evelien Hermeling, post doc biomedical researcher at imec in the Netherlands.  

“I had always thought that biomedical research job opportunities were pretty much limited to academia. At least, for people like me, who are interested in doing applied and fundamental research, that is not driven by commercial or financial interests alone. It’s why I continued as post doc researcher at university. PhD positions at research companies in the Netherlands, just couldn’t give me the academic work I loved doing.”

“But, at a certain point, I started to feel cramped by the academic research silos. At university it’s all about your research in one particular field. I’m a people person and came to the realisation, that I was really missing teamwork. Still, I stayed on after my PhD. Breaking away from academia was not something I did lightly.”

A different perspective on research

“Then, I happened across a biomedical research job posting at imec the Netherlands. They are not as well known in our country as, say TNO. But here was an opportunity to continue doing high-level research with social relevance. From day one, I’ve never looked back. It’s not that I’ve changed, but imec gave me a totally different perspective on what doing research is about.”

“Research here is all about collaboration and teamwork. It’s about thriving in an extremely diverse setting. My colleagues come from all over the world: they’re selected because of their expertise in a certain field. It’s about sparring with each other, being inquisitive and using our shared knowledge and intellectual diversity to excel and achieve results that will contribute positively to science and society. And that’s not some sort of mission statement dictated to us by management. It’s something we live and do each and every day. It’s ground breaking research that makes a difference.”

Staying at the forefront of cutting-edge research

“I am now principal scientist and head of the Biomedical Engineering Competence Group at Holst Centre. Each research team is made up of specialists from different fields. They bring their particular know-how to a project. Within these multi-disciplinary teams, cross-pollination is achieved by building on different perspectives. The result? Truly innovative and relevant solutions.”

“At the same time, the competence group is the place where we as biomedical engineers discuss and discover new and relevant methodologies or findings. It ensures we stay at the very forefront of cutting-edge research. We continually challenge each other to come up with new ideas: they’re what enables us to move forward. It’s better to have an idea that fails than have no idea at all. Of course, there’s the intellectual aspect to working on such ideas, but here at imec we’re also constantly invited to look beyond our own specialist field. It’s what makes my work so fascinating!”

Find out more about working at imec the Netherlands

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