The Faces Of NGC

An interview with Maximilian Christ

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Max supports the organization of scientific talks and social events at NGC. He is about to complete his PhD on the Sigma 1 receptor and autophagy in the Behl lab, where he will remain as a postdoc. In this interview, he shares his journey to the PhD, his long-term goals and his interest for the NGC.  

Q: Where are you from and what have you studied? Have you always wanted to be a scientist?

I was born in Berlin, but my parents moved to the south of Germany when I was a baby. At four, we moved to Italy, where I grew up in Modena and Treviso. I then moved back to Berlin for my social service, and relocated to Mainz for my studies in biology. I have since grown fond of the city.
Since school, it was clear for me that I wanted to pursue a career either in science or medicine. I couldn’t get into medicine because my high-school grades weren’t good enough, thereby I enrolled in biology, thinking of changing my studies after a few semesters. However, I was quickly captivated by genetics, took a deep interest in the field and decided to stay in the biology field to become a scientist.

Q: What was your motivation to pursue a PhD in biology?

It was a no-brainer for me to deepen my knowledge of biology with a PhD. On one hand, I wanted to develop my skills further, and on the other hand, I had additional career opportunities in mind. Now that I will defend, I look back at my PhD life and I feel really glad I stuck to it. Despite some strenuous times, I must say I had a really great time in the lab.

Q: What does your daily life consist of?

My daily life is full of joyful stress, as I have recently become a father. Therefore, when I’m not in the lab, I change nappies, prepare meals, play with my little boy or try to keep the house somewhat clean. Finally, in the evening, my wife and I get one-two hours for ourselves… and we are so exhausted that we just watch Netflix and relax.

Q: What is your long-term goal? Do you plan to stay in academia or are you going to explore other options?

I haven’t decided yet. I’m open for both staying in academia and transitioning to industry.  Both have ups and downs, but I am quite flexible and I am really curious to see where I will be in ten years. As for now, I remain in the Behl lab, where I have a postdoc contract and where I’ll gain some experience as a university lecturer as well.

Q: How did you come to join NGC and what do you like most about it?

I work in the same group as Fazi, in which Mirjam also did her PhD. The two of them approached me and asked me if I wanted to join. I was happy to do so. I really like new opportunities to get insights from PhDs about their jobs and what’s different or important. What I also really like is NGC’s informal atmosphere. It was especially nice at the start of my PhD to have such a relaxed environment where you could really feel free to ask anything.

In addition, the team is great and before the pandemic we had quite the fun meetings and a really good time together. I’m really looking forward to seeing the others in person again, maybe with a beer in one hand and a snack in the other.

Written by Isabelle Arnoux; Edited by Jie Shi. Featured Image: NGC/Design.

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