With two parents passionate about science, and a love for the field at a young age, it was somewhat inevitable that Klaus Boldt would embark on a career in research.
But the journey to get there - from Germany to Australia and back again, with close connection underpinning personal progress - was all his own work.
Speaking to members of Exciton Science during a visit to his University of Melbourne alma mater in 2023, Klaus, who is now a Professor of Chemistry at the University of Rostock, offered some valuable insight into his life as an academic.
“I think friendships are most central in science,” he said.
“One of my role models was a postdoc we had in Hamburg who was gathering this group of PhD students around her who she, on a personal level, got on with really well with.
“They were so productive because they just liked to contribute to each other's work. And I think that's the best advice I can give: Not just do your own thing, but to build your network because you are helping the PhD students be more productive and they're helping you. It's just of mutual benefit for everybody as a whole.
Klaus worked at the University of Melbourne as a postdoctoral researcher with Exciton Science Director Professor Paul Mulvaney shortly before the Centre’s inception.
And the lessons he learned while working Down Under are now being implemented on Germany’s Baltic coast.
“It's really international, open, welcoming and diverse here,” he said of the Australian research community.
“And that is something that I've thoroughly enjoyed and something that I try to apply to my own group now, to have a very multicultural bunch of people around. It’s harder to have that in Germany, because it's much easier for people to move to an English-speaking country where they already speak the language.
“Groups in Germany tend to be German speaking, and international-language groups are still the exception. That is changing, definitely. And it's a very welcome, good change.”
After moving from the University of Konstanz to Rostock recently, Klaus is creating his own research group focused on exploring the fabrication of complex nanocrystals in solution and their reaction to light.
It’s the latest chapter in a lifelong love affair with science, which runs throughout his DNA.
“My mother was a biology teacher and my dad was an engineer who also taught physics for some time. Doing chemistry was the average of those two,” Klaus joked.
“At some point I visited the German Museum in Munich where lots of science is on display, specifically the instruments that Otto Hahn used to discover nuclear fission caught my attention.
"That was really the point when I decided I wanted to do something like that. And incidentally I ended up in a research group that can trace back its lineage to Otto Hahn. So I'm now actually in that family tree.”
A visit by a Professor of Chemistry to his high school encouraged Klaus to study science at university, where he became convinced that research was the right professional path forward.
“After my PhD, I just continued,” he said.
“I liked the atmosphere, I liked the people, I liked the work.”
That passion is still evident every day, and now as a Professor and leader of a research group, it’s the turn of Klaus to help curious young minds to find their footing in the laboratory and lecture theatre.
“I can put my efforts into helping out the students the best I can and providing the best environment and the best conditions for them to excel,” he said.