Making science exciting
40 young scientists from all disciplines have met for the first time in person at the doctoral seminar of SFB 1357 Microplastics and learnt a lot about scientific transfer.
Laughter, murmuring, jokes shouted across the courtyard, it was like a class excursion - and the event at Thurnau Castle was actually not entirely dissimilar. After a forced break of two years, it was the first real, face-to-face doctoral student meeting of SFB Microplastics of the University of Bayreuth. Almost 40 young scientists from a wide range of disciplines, all doing their doctorates under the umbrella of SFB 1357 at the University of Bayreuth, experienced three days full of input, entertainment, and, yes, a class trip feeling.
Responsible for the event - and the good atmosphere - were Dr. Melanie Pöhlmann and Dr. Hannes Imhof from the SFB 1357 office, and the doctoral student speakers Gerasimos Gkoutselis, doctoral student in mycology, and Eike Esders, doctoral student in micrometeorology. They put together an unusual programme for the doctoral students: Start-up founders, entrepreneurship professors, and a well-known ZDF presenter were among the speakers, besides a tour of the castle, a pub quiz, and the obligatory presentation of their own doctoral thesis.
"Of course, we have known each other for a long time, but the direct exchange of information and ideas, the personal conversation about the contents of the theses, that had been sorely missed. Here at Thurnau Castle, we were even able to discuss new cooperation opportunities," says Gerasimos Gkoutselis, PhD student spokesperson for SFB 1357. Moritz Lehmann, PhD student in theoretical physics, confirms this. He says his field is "very specialised", but nevertheless he regularly gets requests from other SFB doctoral students to do calculations. Both sides benefit from this: "You get input from all sides here." That includes external doctoral students like Stefan Rohrbach (microbiology) from Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz Universität Hannover. He emphasises that "Everyone works on their sub-project, but here the interfaces become visible and new interfaces are added."
Dirk Steffens, honorary doctor of the University of Bayreuth and well-known science journalist, presenter of the ZDF programme Terra X and, most recently, author for GEO, presents a completely different kind of scientific communication.
Don’t speak for the benefit of your colleagues, but for the people outside your bubble.
Dirk Steffens, honorary doctor of the University of Bayreuth, science journalist, presenter of the ZDF programme Terra X, and most recently author for GEO.
In fact, this is the context of all the doctoral theses currently being written at the SFB. The doctoral students reflect the breadth of the research field: hydrologists, ecotoxicologists, soil ecologists, micrometeorologists, animal ecologists, mycologists, chemists, polymer researchers, ecosystem researchers, bioprocess engineers, and physicists. "This diversity at the scientific level, and the team spirit, is a testament to our interdisciplinarity and the quality of our SFB," says Dr Melanie Pöhlmann. "That's why we aim to further intensify the exchange of ideas and experience among doctoral students," Dr Hanns Imhof announced. The next meeting is already scheduled.