Magdalena Kutnik



I was born in the city of Lublin, in Poland, on April 30, 1977.  As a kid, I experienced cold winters and silly mixtures prepared by my grandmother for preventing flu and other infections: hot milk with honey and garlic!
I moved to France when I was 6 and grew up there, which means that, well, I’m definitely French.


I studied biology at “Pierre et Marie Curie” University in Paris and after getting my master’s degree in Life Sciences with a specialization in Entomology, I moved to the wonderful region of the Loire Valley, to the city of Tours. I did my PhD research work there, at the Institute of Research on Insect Biology (IRBI). I spent three years collecting subterranean termites in the south-west of France, Spain and Portugal and analyzing their chemical and genetic cues and affiliations. Travelling on my own in this part of Europe was an amazing experience – I spent hours sitting on the side of mountain roads and banging on dry pieces of wood to collect termites, I stopped in breath-taking places such as Cordoba or Granada and enjoyed their beauty and peaceful atmosphere.  Finally, I got my PhD degree in 2004, for the study I made on the phylogeny, evolution and population genetics of Reticulitermes termites in the south-west of Europe.


During these three years of research I had the chance to attend several conferences, including a COST E37 meeting in Madrid where I met for the first time my future great friends Lina Nunes and Mayte Troya (and also several of my present colleagues!). In 2005, I was hired for a position at CTBA (now FCBA) and moved south to the sunny city Bordeaux. I worked for a couple of years as a research scientist in the FCBA Biology Lab and thanks to this job, joined the IRG family in 2008, in Istanbul. I met new people, saw amazing places … and collected termites on Prince’s Island (thank you Roland for bringing me there!). I have attended every IRG conference since that time (and well, sampled more termites!). My position at FCBA changed two years ago, when I became the leader of the Biology laboratory. My activities are now very diversified, including management, communication, research, development, and standardization (I’m the chair of the European standardization committee CEN/TC38 since 2010).  I love my job but 24 hours a day are definitely not enough to do all I would like to do!


What could I tell regarding the “private” side?  Nothing veeery exciting, I’m afraid!  No swimming with sharks, no pole dancing in bars at night - I’m a happy wife and mother, I live in Bordeaux with my high school sweetheart Alex and our two kids, Roxane (10) and William (6).  I spend most of my weekends and holidays outdoors with my family, visiting exhibitions and “old stones” is our favourite activity. I love very simple but essential things and put all my energy into enjoying them as much as possible: kids, friends, nature, sun, rain, music (all kinds, from Bach to Nirvana), cinema, literature (from all over the work, currently Japanese and Scandinavian), art (I like modern art the best, because it’s always opened to interpretation – I don’t care if I like or dislike a piece of art, if it shakes something inside of me, the goal is reached), architecture, design, food (especially chocolate), cooking (chocolate cakes, obviously), dancing. I love all the good things that life has to offer; well, you would have to say that I simply love life.

This bio was written for the February 2016 IRG Newsletter.