Meet our SIM² KU Leuven colleague: Innovation Manager Marion Bechtold

Marion Bechtold is an innovation manager of the IOF (Industrial Research Fund), focusing on research valorization in the field of innovative materials for a circular economy. She will also coordinate the Leuven Materials Research Center (MRC) and represents it at national and international platforms (e.g. SIM, EIT RawMaterials). Find out more about her work in our latest SIM² KU Leuven interview. (PTJ, Leuven, 23/5/2019)

Why did you choose to work in Leuven?

After a couple of years working in Germany, me and my husband felt ready for a change. We found new inspiration, new challenge and new friends in Leuven, fell in love with this lively city, and settled.

What are the main topics you are involved in?

As an innovation manager I will coordinate, develop and support the valorization strategy in the field of materials innovation for a circular economy. This involves an interdisciplinary team of researchers of the KU Leuven Materials Research Center (MRC). A huge valorization potential lies in the newly defined research lines “materials for energy” (e.g. batteries, PVs, supercapacitors) and “sustainable organic materials management” (e.g. renewables, recycling) as well as in SIM² KU Leuven (here, I will contribute to the fields of geological exploration, process intensification, upcycling and sustainability assessments, RL1,4,5,6).

What attracts you in the position of a research manager?

What triggered me most to become a research manager at KU Leuven is that IOF managers are appointed to their field of scientific expertise. For me, it’s thus more than technology transfer: it’s about finding synergies and common visions, strengthening partnerships, driving ideas by thinking in a both scientific and strategic way. And it is about supporting research, that aims at finding solutions for our future on a vulnerable planet: closing gaps in material and recycling streams, saving resources, developing sustainable, “greener” materials and more efficient processes.

How do you recharge?

Being a mother and a full-time worker, there is not much time to recover. That’s why I use the short moments, e.g. after finishing a presentation or an unpleasant phone call, to lean back, close my eyes or watch the trees and the sky, breathing. If this is not enough, I do a short bike tour to relax and refresh my brain.

If you had a time machine, what point in the past or future would you visit and why?

I would go to Berlin, November 9, 1989, the day of the fall of the Berlin Wall. I was a primary school kid at that time and couldn’t really understand what was going on. In a time in which we are facing backsliding democracies even in EU, I would be the happiest person alive seeing the utmost desire of humankind for freedom, peace and democracy come true by tearing down a border.

What is the strangest talent you have?

I used to speak backwards fluently when I was a kid, but – strange enough – I partly lost this talent.

**   Biography Marion Bechtold

Marion BechtoldMarion Bechtold was born in Hamburg (Germany). She received her diploma in Geosciences, majoring in Mineralogy, from the University of Göttingen in 2007. She worked intensively on microstructures and textures using optical and electron microscopy as well as X-ray analysis,  EBSD and synchrotron experiments. By the end of her studies, she discovered a strong affinity to experimental research and metals, and did her PhD in Materials Science on grain refinement in dual-phase steels at the Max-Planck-Institute for Iron Research in Düsseldorf from 2007 to 2010. During her studies and PhD, she enjoyed two research stays in Metz, France, and Tsukuba, Japan, before she applied her experience at Salzgitter Mannesmann Forschung GmbH, the central R&D department of Germany’s second largest steel producer Salzgitter AG. In her role as project manager and research engineer, she gained in-depth knowledge on steel development, starting from casting and rolling, via annealing and coating up to forming, welding and application at the customer site. In 2013, she was nominated Technical Expert of the Research Fund for Coal and Steel (RFCS) by the European Commission. In May 2019, she started a new challenge in her position as an innovation manager for KU Leuven.

** Interviews with other colleagues are available here: https://kuleuven.sim2.be/meet-our-colleagues/