Life as an Expat; Biophysical Chemist Maike Hansen shares her experience

The Institute for Molecules and Materials (IMM) is an advanced research institute that is part of Radboud University. Their interdisciplinary approach to chemistry and physics attracts scientist from all over the world. Dr Maike Hansen, assistant professor in Biophysical Chemistry, has recently joined the IMM team and is now starting The Hansen Lab; her very own research group. She shares her experience with working and living abroad, her academic career and IMM.

Growing as a scientist
Maike Hansen is far from inexperienced where conducting research is concerned, but also when it comes to expat life. She is originally from Germany, but obtained both her Bachelor and Master degree at the University of Warwick in the UK. Hansen worked in San Francisco as a postdoc after getting her PhD from Radboud University.

Her time in the US has been valuable to Hansen as a scientist. It helped her grow in multiple ways, as her colleagues were of great worth and very supportive. They could discuss all sorts of things from fundamental scientific theory to everyday observations and the science behind those.

Close bond with colleagues
Hansen’s first time in the Netherlands, as a PhD student at IMM, has taught her that having a close bond with colleagues is invaluable. Sharing experiences with fellow PhD candidates did not only allow for more confidence amongst the group as a whole, but also helped tackling the big questions that science is all about.

IMM strongly encourages collaboration, which is even more interesting regarding the interdisciplinary nature of the organisation. Roughly 250 (bio)chemists, physicists, theorists and experimentalists work closely together to unravel and control the functioning of molecules and materials, which allows for an abundance of different perspectives and ideas.

Back in Nijmegen
Now Hansen is back at Radboud University and IMM. She is looking forward to everything this new position has in store for her, but also to settling in Nijmegen. She likes the city very much, but also experiences difficulties in finding a place to live. Nijmegen is a popular place, and keeps attracting new visitors, students and residents.

Hansen is excited to meet new people and to work together with inspiring colleagues as the new Tenure Track employee. Her new group is already up and running; the first PhD student has just started and a second will start soon. A master student is starting in March and hopefully more students will be interested in working with The Hansen Lab. Their aim is to ‘identify design principles that allow for robust outcomes in noisy crowded systems’.

About IMM
IMM’s mission is to perform fundamental research to understand, design and control the functioning of molecules and materials. The scientists that work here enjoy unique research facilities; like one of the strongest magnets in the world with a coupled laser laboratory. IMM was founded in 2001 after two research institutes joined forces to create an organisation that performs at the highest international standards.

More information about IMM is available at