Dr Melike Karakus-Uzuner has been working in the technology development of our subsidiary Berghof Products + Instruments GmbH since 2019. Even during her early days at school she was thrilled by mathematics and sciences, especially chemistry and the relationship between physics and chemistry. Therefore, her challenging and interdisciplinary work at Berghof is exactly to her liking.
1) Dr Karakus-Uzuner, when did you know that chemistry was going to be your profession?
At a very early stage, in my schooldays. I had a great chemistry teacher who sparked my enthusiasm for this science. I was born and raised in Turkey, where school education focuses a lot on mathematics and sciences – that left its mark on me, of course. These subjects weren’t a lot of trouble for me, I even gave many schoolmates private tuition in them.
2) Bearing in mind your great experiences with your chemistry teacher: Didn’t it seem obvious to you to follow in her footsteps and teach chemistry at school?
Actually, that was what I planned to do at first. I completed my bachelor's degree with this intention. However, when I did some practical training in the industry I found out that I was even more excited about this work. From that day on, I did everything to achieve my goal of working in the industry. Today, the skills I learned during my studies are extremely helpful in training courses for partners and customers.
3) You showed some courage to achieve your goal. You came to Germany for your doctorate in 2012, although you spoke hardly any German at the time. Did you have second thoughts about it?
I did, that was a difficult step after all. But it was always clear to me that I would go abroad for my doctorate. I was a bit torn between the United States and Germany. Our professors in Turkey always spoke with deep respect of the work of the scientists at the Max Planck Institutes in Germany, that had a strong impact on my considerations. When I was offered to do my doctoral thesis at the Max Planck Institute for Polymer Research in Mainz, I just had to leap at this chance. And today I am very happy that I dared to do so. Even if I love my home country Turkey very much - my future is in Germany. Not least because in the technology development at Berghof Products + Instruments I and our team can build on an absolutely fascinating history with many pioneering innovations and we have many exciting projects that I can hardly wait to be ready for the market.
4) During your studies you already focused on physical chemistry and you did your doctoral thesis on the material properties of a new type of photoactive material. Do interdisciplinary topics at the interface between chemistry and physics add particularly to the attractiveness of your work – and is that why you decided to work for a company specialized in laboratory equipment?
Yes, I generally find topics exciting where specialists from different disciplines have to work closely together in a team in order to successfully solve the challenges together. The laboratory area is a prime example of this: During my studies and my doctorate, I worked intensively with various laboratory devices – and while doing so I discovered which complex issues the manufacturers have to take into account. This includes not only a deep understanding of chemical processes and physical laws. More and more, an extensive know-how about programming software and mechanical construction is necessary in order to be able to offer a fitting solution for every customer and every application in the best possible way. That really fascinated me. That's why I looked around in this sector specifically when I had successfully finished my doctoral thesis. It was then I discovered my current position at Berghof Products + Instruments – a happy coincidence.
5) Why do you consider this to have been a happy coincidence?
Because the timing was just perfect. We are a young team at Berghof in the technology development, which in the course of a generation change has been given the rare opportunity to take on responsibility right away – and yet, being supported in word and deed by our experienced predecessors, we didn't have to jump in at the deep end. We appreciate this very much. What’s more: although Berghof Products + Instruments has been successfully on the market for more than 50 years, there still is this pioneering spirit that is formative for the entire Berghof Group. The close cooperation between the individual subsidiaries of the Berghof Group also inspires me. In our case, for example, the cooperation with Berghof Fluoroplastic Technology GmbH as a supplier of our unique, because extremely resistant and long-lasting PTFE vessels is particularly intensive. We may not be the largest manufacturer of laboratory equipment – but thanks to the special structure and culture of the Berghof Group we can rely on an enormously broad pool of expertise. A specialty really appreciated by our customers.
6) Which other special features that characterize products of Berghof Products + Instruments would you mention?
Our team has always sought a close dialogue with our customers – and the founding fathers built the company in a way that enables us to absorb this unfiltered feedback from practice completely and also to convert it into even better devices in the best possible way. For example, we have concentrated really every step of the product development in-house. And also the Berghof divisions Automation and Control Solutions and Fluoroplastics, our development partners at the Control of the devices and laboratory vessels, can be found on the same factory premises. A design that guarantees short distances and quick response times – and for our customers an optimal solution from a single source, which bears unmistakably the Berghof signature in every detail. As a consequence, this has led to a very good reputation of our devices: Berghof laboratory devices stand for high performance, safety and durability. And our new young team in the technology development will do everything to ensure that Berghof's future developments will confirm this good reputation.