In today's episode, we interview Dr. Martijn Molenaar. Martijn obtained his bachelors in Chemistry/Life Science in the Netherlands in 2006. After that, he worked in industry for a while as a lab technician, after which he moved to Utrecht University for a position as research technician. He fell in love with science and transitioned from technician to PhD candidate at Utrecht University. Martijn tells us about his experience and his perhaps unconventional career path.
During his PhD, Martijn studied the role of lipids in liver health and disease. He studied how the fat-soluble vitamin A is stored in liver cells and also built a computational pipeline to analyze lipidomics data. Martijn tells us about his research, and how he followed his interest to go from bench-focused research to computational work.
To further his interest in computational biology, Martijn did his postdoc at EMBL in Heidelberg (Germany) between June 2020 and June 2022. By chance, we interviewed Martijn on the final day of his postdoc. In the interview, he reflects on his experience during the postdocs and his next step, back in the Netherlands, where he will start as a project leader in data science research at an applied university.
Martijn is also an academic parent. His son was born in summer 2019, so he navigated writing his PhD thesis and being a new parent. Moreover, he got the chance to work part-time (4 days a week) when his son was born. We talk about what it is like to work part-time to get an extra day a week to spend with your child, and how to manage the workload while being part-time.
Finally, we round of the interview with Martijn's best advice for PhD students, what a day in the life looks like, how to set boundaries, and the impact of COVID-19 on his work and daily tasks.