Humboldt fellow Dr. Petra Zadnikova and her host Prof. Dr. Rüdiger Simon

Dr. Petra Zadnikova, Czech Republic, studied at the University of Veterinary and Pharmaceutical sciences in Brno (Czech Republic) where she obtained her Masters in Pharmacy in 2007. At the VIB Department of Plant Systems Biology at Ghent University, Belgium she carried out her doctoral research.
In the beginning of 2013 Dr. Zadnikova started a Postdoc at Heinrich Heine University in the
Institute for Developmental Genetics at HHU with Professor Rüdiger Simon. Her research focuses on the contribution of stem cells to plant development especially the involvement of the gene called „JLO“ in plant shoot and root development.

Dr. Petra Zadnikova Humboldt Fellow at HHU (Photo: Uta Brunner)

How did the two of you get in contact initially?

Petra Zadnikova: I was very interested in the plant stem cell work of Prof. Simon. So I contacted him and got the chance to come here in the beginning of 2013. I was employed by Prof. Simon, however, he had money just for one year and I had to apply for my own fellowship to be able to prolong the stay. My application for an Humboldt fellowship had been successful and since July 2014 I am supported by Alexander von Humboldt Foundation.

How do you benefit from AvH funding as a scholar?

Petra Zadnikova: What I like very much about Humboldt foundation is that once you are a „Humboldtian“ you are forever a „Humboldtian“. AvH supports you also once you are back in your country. Once you start your own research group you can also become a host for other Humboldt fellows.

Prof. Dr. Rüdiger Simon (Photo: Hanne Horn)

How do you benefit from hosting an AvH scholar?

Prof. Simon: It is a recognition and honour that Humboldt fellows come here and want to work here. AvH offers the fellows a lot of possibilities to get to know Germany. It is a welcoming culture. They very much facilitate the integration of the fellows.

My experience from a previous fellow is that she didn’t know much about Germany but then she went on the AvH-organized tours through the whole country and after two weeks she knew more about Germany than I do. She even met the president. This is one of the advantages and you feel like you are a part of a larger structure. AvH has all these extra perks that come with it. That’s the good thing about it. I hope there will be more AvH fellows coming to my lab in the future. 

I actually heard first about AvH fellowships from a collegue at the RIKEN institute in Japan. We met and got into a discussion, and then he switched to German and said that he had been a Humboldt fellow many many years ago and he still likes it and he still comes back regularly to Germany. It is like a life long connection with the country.

What are your plans for your future?

Petra Zadnikova: I would like to stay in science and definitely I would like to collaborate with Prof. Simon.

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