Cook for a Scientist – Jutta Kunz meets Clémentine Ferrari

Once a year, the ‘Cook for a Scientist’ event brings together residents of the Golm district of Potsdam with researchers and employees of the Potsdam Science Park. Over a shared meal, a space is created to meet, exchange ideas about the respective realities of life and overcome cultural barriers. In this way, the format contributes to bringing people from Golm and the park closer together. This year, the Kunz family, who have lived in Golm for more than five years, and Clémentine Ferrari, a doctoral student at the Max Planck Institute of Colloids and Interfaces, are among the participants.

Potsdam Science Park is a permanent fixture in Golm, explains Jutta Kunz – if only because it has such a spatial presence. From her garden she has a good view of the Fraunhofer Campus and the two GO:IN innovation centres. But since this summer, when Kunz thinks of the park, she her mind goes to Clémentine Ferrari, a doctoral student at the Max Planck Institute of Colloids and Interfaces.

Golm and the Potsdam Science Park grow together

In Golm, Kunz and her family belong, strictly speaking, to the group of ‘newcomers’. It was only in 2017 that Jutta Kunz moved here with her mother, husband and two sons into a newly built multi-generational house in the immediate vicinity of the Potsdam Science Park. According to her, they have never regretted the move from Potsdam’s city centre. “We enjoy the peace and quiet of the place and, especially in summer, the really touching sunsets,” Kunz explains, adding, “And if we do want a bit more hustle and bustle, the city isn’t far away.” So the family has put down roots, and curiously observes what happens in the town and how Golm develops year after year.

The Potsdam Science Park occasionally seems “so close and yet so far away” to Jutta Kunz, she admits. Although some of the researchers and staff live in Golm themselves or meet them in town, it is not always easy to establish contact. “You know each other ‘by sight’,” says Kunz: “You say hello to each other, but in the end, unfortunately, you often keep to yourself.  When Jutta Kunz heard about ‘Cook for a Scientist’, she immediately thought it was just the right idea to promote the integration of the park and the town. Every year between April and July, Golm residents have the opportunity to invite researchers from the Potsdam Science Park to their homes. Over a meal together, they have the opportunity to get to know each other, to talk about the different realities of life for local residents and scientists, and even to overcome cultural barriers.

 Getting to know each other through pizza and chess

The family therefore quickly agreed to take the chance and participate in ‘Cook for a Scientist’. Jutta Kunz applied, was successful – and was soon able to welcome Clémentine Ferrari into her living room. The young doctoral student is researching biofilm-based materials at the Max Planck Institute of Colloids and Interfaces in the Potsdam Science Park. She is studying the ability of various bacteria to form biofilms from a protein and polysaccharide matrix, as well as the possibilities of using these to produce new, ‘living’ materials.

However, research was not the main topic during the meeting of Ferrari and the Kunz family. Instead, they soon found themselves on the terrace – fully occupied with topping a homemade pizza. “Preparing the pizza together was a great icebreaker and brought us closer together,” says Jutta Kunz: “It allowed Clémentine and us to talk casually and get to know each other.” The fact that the native Frenchwoman speaks almost fluent German certainly helped, too. Above all, they immediately bonded over their shared hobbies, such as cooking, sports and tailoring. The evening ended with a game of chess in the garden.

Cook for a Scientist’ was a very special experience for the Kunz family and Clémentine Ferrari. With Clémentine, says Jutta Kunz, the Potsdam Science Park finally has “a face and a name” for her. She hopes that this Welcome Service campaign will be continued by the site management in the coming years and that it will continue to contribute to bringing Golm residents and researchers, as well as employees of the Potsdam Science Park, closer together. This year, eight meetings between Golm residents and park researchers have taken place. Interested parties who would like to take part in ‘Cook for a Scientist’ as a host or scientist in the future can send an email to Tina Stavemann at welcomeservice@potsdam-sciencepark.de to receive information about the next event in good time.

This blog and the projects of Standortmanagement Golm GmbH in the Potsdam Science Park are funded by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) and the State of Brandenburg.