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1st RTG Retreat & 4th RTG-Seminar on September 14 – 15, 2020 at Fraunhofer Forschungscampus, Waischenfeld

Participants of the 1st RTG Retreat & 4th RTG Seminar of GRK 2423 FRASCAL
Participants of the "1st RTG Retreat & 4th RTG Seminar" of GRK 2423 FRASCAL (Image: A. Dakkouri-Baldauf)

On September 14 and 15, 2020, all members of GRK 2423 FRASCAL met for the first retreat of the Research Training Group (RTG) on the Fraunhofer Research Campus in the climatic spa Waischenfeld (Franconian Switzerland).

As the original date of the retreat had to be postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the new date coincided with the fourth of the semi-annual RTG seminars, so that it was decided to hold a combined event „1st RTG Retreat & 4th RTG Seminar“ (here you find the programme).

As usual at our RTG seminars, all FRASCAL doctoral researchers and the Post Doc each gave a presentation on their latest research results.

In addition, one session was reserved to discuss the important topic “Research Data Management (RDM)”. The representatives of three so-called user groups of GRK 2423 FRASCAL presented a summary of the remarkable results of their meetings. These groups have been formed a few months ago from some members of the doctoral researchers to explore the possibilities of a comprehensive RDM system for this Research Training Group and to develop a concept that is as consistent and sustainable as possible.

Since the doctoral researchers of the RTG are already almost at the end of their second year and therefore (have to) think about their professional career after their doctorate, a further block was reserved at the retreat to present different career paths. In this session two aspects were considered:

On the first day, under the topic „Suddenly PhD, now what?“, various options for the professional career of an academic were discussed.  The various possibilities from staying as an academic at the university or going on as a scientist in institutions of applied sciences to an academic career in industry were presented. The Principal Advisors Prof. Bernd Meyer, Prof. Dirk Zahn and Prof. Thorsten Pöschel presented the different paths to a university professorship in a lively and entertaining way using the example of their own curriculum vitae. PD Dr.-Ing. Ralf Meske, one of the four members of FRASCALs External Advisory Board, described very clearly how research and development in industry works and how it differs from research at universities or similar research institutions.

On the second day, Prof. Paul Steinmann gave a presentation on the topic „As there’s no cash to splash, where should the funding come from?“ on the various financing options for young researchers with doctorates.

Both topics will be taken up again and deepened later this year and next year in two already planned workshops: 1. „My Career in Academia – Conditions and Perspectives“, Dr. Stefanie Herberger, Erlangen, December 4, 2020, and 2. „Attracting successfully research funding! The road from the idea to getting funded!“, Dr. Wilma Simoleit, Bonn, February 8/9, 2021.

It was a special pleasure that our Mercator Fellow, Dr. Laurent Ponson (Paris), despite the restrictions of Corona, joint FRASCAL’s first retreat and enriched the many discussions with his constructive contributions. Not only during the retreat, but already since the beginning of his work as a Mercator Fellow in GRK 2423 FRASCAL, he brought invaluable additional expertise to the RTG. As a symbolic recognition and an expression of our gratitude, he was presented with a certificate at this event.

During a hike to the Burg Rabenstein and a guided tour through the Sophienhöhle, the discussions could be continued and deepened in small groups on Monday afternoon in a very informal way, but also the beautiful nature of Franconian Switzerland could be enjoyed. The day ended with a barbecue on the Fraunhofer Research Campus in still beautiful summer weather.

Our combined 1st RTG Retreat & 4th RTG Seminar in Waischenfeld was varied, informative and there was leisure time to discuss science and other important matters in life.