My time at NII -- 12 months as a postdoctoral researcher in the lab of Prof. Akiko Aizawa -- was both a huge boost for my academic career and one of the most rewarding experiences in my life. DAAD and NII provided me with all the resources I needed to conduct state-of-the-art research. I felt highly integrated into the group of Prof. Aizawa, with weekly group meetings (in English), and great opportunities for collaboration. At the same time, I had enough freedom to explore my own research ideas independently. My year at NII was the most productive time during my academic career thus far, in terms of the number of publications and citations produced.
Putting work aside, the Japanese culture, and particularly Tokyo, are an amazing experience. The cherry blossom season in spring, gigantic fireworks in summer, a vibrant nightlife throughout the year, world-class food (I didn't miss the German bread), and the hospitality and safety in Japan are just some of the highlights that everyone should experience at least once in life.
Currently, I'm an assistant professor at Trinity College Dublin, one of Europe's leading research universities. Without the DAAD scholarship and NII, I think I would not have been able to secure this position. Also, NII is highly supportive when it comes to establishing long-term collaborations beyond the postdoctoral research period. After my postdoctoral research, NII invited me to serve as a Visiting Professor at NII. The visiting professorship allows me to return to Tokyo once or twice per year to enjoy the great research environment at NII and intensify my collaboration with Prof. Aizawa's research lab and other researchers at NII.
You can find more information about Joeran here, or visit Joeran Beel's blog about NII.