(from left to right) Gemma Fornons, Angela Jurik-Zeiller, Meiki-Jana Kalb and Christoph Feest

Left to right: Gemma Fornons, Angela Jurik-Zeiller, Meike-Jana Kalb and Christoph Feest

Left to right: Gemma Fornons, Angela Jurik-Zeiller, Meike-Jana Kalb and Christoph Feest

Humans of Helmholtz AI #1: Science management team

Meet Christoph Feest, Angela Jurik-Zeiller, Meike-Jana Kalb and Gemma Fornons

At Helmholtz AI we aim to push boundaries in terms of artificial intelligence and machine learning, but this still requires some human-powered efforts. That is why we would like to introduce the ‘humans’ who make Helmholtz AI possible: welcome to our new “Humans of Helmholtz AI” monthly interview section. 


This month, we spoke with the Science Management team at Helmholtz AI Central: Christoph Feest, head of science management, Angela Jurik-Zeiller and Meike-Jana Kalb, science managers, and Gemma Fornons, science communications manager.


What are your roles at Helmholtz AI?

(AJZ) I was one of the co-authors of the initial Helmholtz AI concept and now I am trying to implement what we wrote :-). That mainly means coordinating the establishment of the Helmholtz AI voucher system, the project calls, and several boards. I also help in organizing all events.

(MK) Together with Angela, I supervised many processes during the first Helmholtz AI year. Now that the Science Management Team has grown, I take care of organisational matters, recruiting and budget.

(CF) My job is to facilitate research. I do that by leading a team that enables projects, makes connections to stakeholders and ensures everything goes smoothly.

(GF) I am in charge of the PR strategy of Helmholtz AI across all its units, including press, internal communication, website and social media management and outreach activities. 


And what were you doing before Helmholtz AI?

(MK) I studied biology and health sciences. After gaining work experience in PR and innovation management, I joined the Strategy Program and Resources Department at Helmholtz Zentrum München.

(AJZ) I studied biology and achieved my PhD in neurobiology. Afterwards, I made a short trip into industry and then I worked for 3 years as the advisor of the scientific CEO of HMGU.

(CF) I received training in physics, immunology and intellectual property. I have been privileged to work with fantastic people in basic research, management and clinical translational centers. Over the last 20 years I lived and worked in Berlin, Madrid, London and now Munich, so I am thoroughly and positively European.

(GF) I have a combined background in chemistry and audiovisual communication, and for the past years I have been working in science communication and public engagement in several research centres in Barcelona, mostly related to the biomedical field. I am passionate about making science accessible to all audiences! 


Which such diverse backgrounds… what would you say you enjoy most about being part of Helmholtz AI?

(AJZ)  Every day is a new challenge, it never gets boring. Working together with so many different kinds of people and centers is great!

(CF) Yes; drive, optimism and fantastic people having brilliant ideas.

(GF) I am fairly new here, but I agree - I love the diversity of topics, people and ideas!

(MK) I love building something new, the daily challenges. And of course working with great people who have lots of creative ideas.


What do you enjoy doing when you are not working?

(GF) I love dancing, mostly lindy hop and boogie. There is an awesome dancing community in Munich!

(AJZ) I also enjoy dancing, and sleeping! :-)

(MK) Traveling, bouldering, learning Bahasa Indonesia and being creative!


Three things you can’t live without?

(MK) The first coffee in the morning, love and sports.

(AJZ) Good food, my family and the people around me who give me positive vibes.

(GF) Easy: Coffee, chocolate and music.


What is your personal philosophy?

(CF) Quoting  Isaac Asimov, "people who think they know everything are a great annoyance to those of us who do".