The Person Behind the Scientist: Nurturing Personalities
By Julia Becker by order of the JSMC
PhD students in Germany today have more and more opportunities to shape not only their doctorate, but also their personality according to their personal preferences, and become part of a functioning, collaborative research network in the process. An excellent example is the Jena School for Microbial Communication (JSMC) - a graduate school at the University of Jena funded by the Excellence Initiative of the German federal and state governments.
© JSMCWhen Xinran Liu arrived at the School for Microbial Communication (JSMC) in Jena to start her doctorate, it was her first trip to Europe. Of course she was nervous: Would things with the flat in Jena work out? What would the city be like? Would she able to communicate with people?
But the scientist's worries quickly disappeared when she realised that everything was perfectly organised: the management of the graduate school had arranged a flat for her in the university's guest house and taken care of the bureaucratic hurdles, conversation in English was a matter of course, and the city of Jena immediately appealed to the young woman from China: "Life is peaceful and people are helpful", says the 26-year-old, "When I saw the mountains all around the city and the beautiful river, I immediately felt at home."
Xinran Liu is one of 40 JSMC fellowship holders (see inset). The scientist from China won out against hundreds of competitors in a multi-stage recruitment process. Liu chose to complete her doctorate in Germany because this is where she sees the best conditions for her scientific career: "Germany is top of the league when it comes to science, and here at JSMC I receive first-class training", explains the hydrologist.
An interdisciplinary network
Further InformationThe JSMC is an umbrella organisation of three graduate research training groups: an International Leibniz Research School (ILRS), an International Max Planck Research School (IMPRS) and a DFG research training group at the University of Jena. In addition, the Graduate School of Excellence "JSMC" currently awards 40 fellowships fellowships to outstanding young scientists for doctorate projects at university and non-university research institutes in Jena. Networking university and extramural research and bringing together scientists working on all aspects of the subject of "microbial communication" across disciplines.
On her arrival in Jena, Liu immediately made contacts and friends among her colleagues. One reason for this is that the approximately 150 doctoral candidates at JSMC are offered a huge range of opportunities to organise themselves: for example, the scientists plan leisure activities such as canoeing or mountaineering, or hold grill parties.
"We try very hard to entice our fellow students out of their labs and show them life in and around Jena", says PhD student representative Frank Schindler, "and thanks to the shared activities, friends can be found very quickly here." The 31-year-old microbiologist is the student representative for the over 150 postgraduate students at JSMC and represents their interests on the executive board of JSMC.