KSOP Mentor Voice: Danays Kunka
Who are you und where are you from?
I am an experimental physicist. I was born in Cuba, but before I came to Germany, I lived several years in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
What is your field of research within KIT?
I am working at the Institute of Microstructure Technology (IMT), division Optics and Photonics. My field of research is X-ray optics, with focus on X-ray gratings.
Why did you want to become KSOP mentor?
Before I came to Germany, I worked at the Catholic University of Rio de Janeiro (PUC-Rio) doing research and teaching. There, I had the opportunity to participate in a kind of mentoring program with Prof. Dr. Luis C. Scavarda do Carmo. That program connected first year students with academic mentors and older student mentors in a problem based learning project; it gave me a wonderful experience. In Germany, while working exclusively as a researcher, I was missing that satisfying feeling you get when you can support students and contribute to their professional development.
Why do you think the mentoring concept to be so important for KSOP PhD students?
PhD students can learn a lot from their mentors. It is not just a question of receiving help to solve a specific problem in order to overcome a technical issue or personal troubles, but the student can also benefit from the experience of the mentor to develop personal and professional skills.
What would you like to achieve as a KSOP mentor?
I would like to help the students to reach their career goals. I will combine my work environment in X-ray optics with the environment of my mentees, photonic materials and devices, which is related to my former research activities in Brazil. Being a KSOP mentor, I will also be more involved in the university’s life. Another goal is to get fresh ideas in order to strengthen the interaction between “X-ray optics” and “photonic materials and devices” areas.
What do you like about KSOP?
I appreciate the multidisciplinary and multicultural approach of the KSOP. In the contemporary scientific environment we need to be skilled to solve complex problems. This is best possible by using the benefits of teamwork. That includes not only teams with members of different disciplines but also with a diversity of cultural backgrounds.