The Working World of Dr. Juliane Jungk

Knowledge expansion and transfer

Before kicking off her career at Freudenberg Technology Innovation, Dr. Juliane Jungk dedicated the first years of her professional life to rubber. A perfect springboard from which to expand and apply her knowhow at Freudenberg. Today, as Head of Methods Development, she has a key managerial role and researches new test methods for Freudenberg Group products.

Chemistry is clearly her passion. And so it comes as no surprise that following her degree in physical chemistry in Hannover, Germany, a doctorate was next in line during which, she developed a keen interest in rubber as a material. First though, she broadened her knowledge at the German Institute for Rubber Technology (DIK) before spending six years at a German automotive supplier responsible for materials development for truck and bus tires. The path that led to Freudenberg Technology Innovation was paved when Jungk’s employer launched a joint project with a Freudenberg Business Group.  Jungk made a convincing case with her knowhow, finally moving to FTI in 2016. “The project was about natural rubber and silica. Having managed it first for my old employer, I then continued with it for Freudenberg. It helped me take a more holistic view,” Jungk recalls.

The mixture makes the difference

Initially, Jungk was appointed Group Leader for Physical Characterization.  The group soon evolved into an entire department with Jungk promoted to its head – her team’s assignment a wide-reaching one. After all, they were responsible for developing new test methods for Freudenberg products. “At the start, my team consisted of just two employees and I had no firm idea of how the department should look,” Jungk admits. But that soon changed: “We moved forward step-by-step, taking a strategic approach. We identified the relevant topics for the Freudenberg Group and grew with them. Now our team is home to 12 colleagues. We’ve really made a name for ourselves,” Jungk explains with a sense of pride. Her working day is just as exciting as it is varied: “Whereas before I only worked on truck and bus tires, today we investigate new testing methods for fibers, lubricants, seals and dampers. Since the topics change on a daily basis, you have to be flexible.” She sees the professional diversity in her team as a great advantage: “We have mechanical engineers, food technologists and biophysicists on board. Our team has just the right expertise for a wide range of topics – which means we can take on projects and requests from all ten Freudenberg Business Groups and, by combining various approaches, find the best solution.” A constant exchange of information also makes the department successful. Although each team member looks after their own project, new ideas often arise from brainstorming together. Dealing with new ideas every day is something Jungk values most about her work. “We measure things that until now couldn’t be measured. So we’re constantly creating something new and boosting Freudenberg’s innovative strength.”

From surface pathogens to artificial intelligence

As in the specific case of a large-scale project.  Together with Freudenberg Home and Cleaning Solutions, Freudenberg Filtration Technologies, Freudenberg Medical and Freudenberg Performance Materials, Jungk’s team is researching a method for the rapid and more effective detection of bacterial contamination on surfaces.  “Pathogens are undesirable on products and surfaces, even under normal circumstances, but many Business Groups, such as Freudenberg Medical (FM), manufacture under cleanroom conditions.  This makes it all the more important that surfaces are bacteria-free.” Meanwhile, Jungk’s team has prioritized potential technologies for detecting bacteria and developed a strategic program that will be launched in 2021.
Of course, the high-tech environment in which Jungk and her department operate has ever more touch points with digitalization.  In fact, many projects have a strong focus on the topic. So, when it comes to analyzing large datasets, artificial intelligence now plays a major role. “Digitalization presents new challenges for us. But thanks to our proactive approach, we’re well-prepared.  Some time ago, we identified new topics and trends that might be relevant for the Freudenberg Group in the future.  So, we’d already acquired essential knowhow, even before receiving the first related request.”

Paving the way: professionally and as a volunteer

To strengthen the strategic cooperation between Freudenberg Technology Innovation and the Vibracoustic Business Group, Jungk took on the role of Key Account Manager in January 2021, alongside her position as Head of Department. The role suits her – since she loves paving the way, even after the close of business. Jungk in fact used the corona lockdowns to volunteer as a cyber mentor, helping young talents to get started in science.  “There are still too few girls in STEM [science, technology, engineering, and mathematics] professions.  That has to change. So I decided to mentor a 15-year-old girl – voluntary work, that’s now become my favorite hobby.”  
In her day-to-day work at Freudenberg, the dedicated chemist helps to expand knowledge while on the other hand, she passes it on. But what about if she needs a break herself? Then, Jungk turns to the great outdoors. “I love gardening – I spend a lot of time working in my garden, growing my own fruit and vegetables, plus I have a few chickens.” And, for once, chemistry doesn’t come into the equation.

At an FTI lab, Jungk carefully places a sample in a testing cell.  (Photo: Marco Schilling)


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