Three outstanding female MPIE scientists selected for “Sign-Up!” career program

January 10, 2024

The Max Planck Society (MPG) selected Dr. Anwesha Kanjilal, Dr. Aparna Saksena, and Dr. Daria Smirnova, exceptional postdoctoral scientists at the Max-Planck-Institut für Eisenforschung (MPIE), to participate in the career development initiative “Sign Up!”. Saksena and Smirnova will take part in the leadership seminars, Kanjilal in the career development seminars.

This opportunity is offered by a collaboration between the MPG and the European Academy for Women in Politics and Economics Berlin (EAF). It aims to empower and support brilliant female scientists in realizing and developing their potential as future leaders in their fields.

Dr. Anwesha Kanjilal is working in the group “Mechanics at Chemical Interfaces” since 2022. There, she investigates the fracture of intermetallic phases in magnesium alloys. Such alloys are crucial for lighter and more fuel-efficient automobiles. Intermetallics can lead to a more robust alloy but may also lead to failures or cracks. Kanjilal elucidates the role of chemistry, crystallography and temperature on the fracture behavior of the intermetallic phases to tune the alloy composition and improve its mechanical properties. She finished her PhD in materials engineering in 2022 and worked on her career development at MPIE: In 2023 she took part in a workshop on voice and body training as part of the institute’s female scientist program and a science communication workshop. In the MPIE’s “Women in Science” interview series she shared her motivations, ambitions and recommendations to women who are considering a career in research.

Dr. Aparna Saksena is deputy group leader of the “Atom Probe Tomography” group. Before this, she finished her doctoral studies in materials chemistry at the RWTH Aachen University and worked three years as a postdoctoral researcher at MPIE. She is primarily concerned with advancing a sustainable economy powered by hydrogen. Her research addresses critical challenges surrounding hydrogen production via catalysts and its interactions with structural materials. For hydrogen to become a viable fuel option, catalytic efficiency during electrolysis needs to be further increased and its embrittlement effects must be fully understood to develop new embrittlement-resistant materials to transport hydrogen safely.

Dr. Daria Smirnova joined the “Microstructure & Mechanics” group at MPIE in 2021. Before that, she did her PhD in Condensed Matter Physics at the National Nuclear Research University in Moscow and worked as a postdoctoral researcher at the Ruhr University Bochum. With her extensive experience in the field of materials simulations she is in the forefront of clarifying the atomistic mechanisms leading to failure in high-temperature superalloys. Such alloys are used for turbine blades in gas turbines or jet engines and need to withstand extreme temperatures and loads. Furthermore, Smirnova is also well-known in the materials science community for the development of advanced interatomic potentials with a high degree of transferability. She was also featured in the MPIE “Women in Science” interview series.

The “Sign Up!”, program is designed to nurture the leadership and professional skills of outstanding female scientists. It includes seminars covering professional communication, appearance, self-management, as well as leadership strategies and performance skills. Drs. Kanjilal, Saksena, and Smirnova's selection is a testament to their exceptional scientific abilities and serves as a beacon of inspiration for young researchers aiming for scientific careers.

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