Promoting young scientists Talent management in the Helmholtz Association

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1 Promoting young scientists Talent management in the Helmholtz Association 1

2 Contents Foreword Helmholtz Young Investigators Groups Programmes for PhD Students Helmholtz Management Academy Mentoring Fostering Young Talent before University Cover picture: At the hydro lab of the solar research division of the DLR s Institute of Technical Thermodynamics in Cologne: During an inspection of the PROPHIS facility, a staff member explains the principle behind actinometry the measurement of the photochemical effectiveness of electromagnetic (especially solar) radiation.

3 Dear Readers, Because we realize that promoting up-and-coming young scientists is vital to guaranteeing internationally competitive, first-rate research in the future, we have made this aspect a fundamental part of our culture at the Helmholtz Association, nurturing young researchers and scientists in a multitude of ways and establishing the highest standards of training and education. We would like to introduce the various means by which we work towards this goal to you in this brochure, along with examples from some of our Research Centres. The Helmholtz Association s programmes for fostering young scientists are one way in which we are honouring the commitment we made as a partner of the German federal and state governments in the Pact for Research and Innovation. The central element of our overall strategy is the programme for promoting postdoctoral researchers, the only one of its kind in Germany. But we have also established special programmes for young people of all ages from youngsters in kindergarten and schoolchildren to undergraduate and graduate students which aim to discover bright young minds at an early age and foster their development from the beginning. In addition, the Helmholtz Academy has further professionalised the training of the leading scientists of tomorrow by providing them with the necessary management skills, and our mentoring programmes help establish networks of contacts and foster equal opportunity by encouraging young women to strive for positions of leadership. Our new programmes were developed in cooperation with the individual Helmholtz Centres, which in turn have various programmes of their own. Thus the Helmholtz Association as a whole is well equipped to meet the scientific challenges of the future. Prof. Dr. Jürgen Mlynek President of the Helmholtz Association 3

4 Helmholtz Young Investigators Groups: Focused support at a crucial career stage Our Helmholtz Young Investigators Groups help young scientists become independent early on and offer them reliable career prospects. They are unique in Germany and help attract creative and talented minds from all over the world to the Helmholtz Research Centres. We think excellence should be rewarded and fostered from an early stage. That means on the one hand enabling researchers to plan their careers, and on the other, acknowledging competitive achievement. This is particularly important in the postdoctoral phase. The Helmholtz Association has established the Young Investigators Groups with the special requirements of this critical career stage in mind. own research group and benefit from the excellent working conditions and conducive environment of a large research centre. Moreover, the tenure option provides them with a long-term career perspective. The programme particularly stresses close cooperation with universities. The leaders of the Helmholtz Young Investigators Groups work closely with partners at universities. This gives them the opportunity to acquire teaching experience and qualify themselves for a career in higher education. Some of them have already been appointed for a joint position as junior professor by the Helmholtz Association and the respective universities, in an arrangement we soon hope to be able to offer all those heading Young Investigators Groups. A Major Advantage the Tenure Option Intended for researchers and scientists who completed their PhD between two and six years ago, deducting any time off for parental leave, the measure allows them to start and head their Unique Opportunities for Outstanding Applicants The most important criterion in selecting applicants is their outstanding quality as scientists. The selection process consists of three stages. In the first, applications are pre-screened at the Tenure track provides reliable career prospects The Helmholtz Association is introducing the tenure track, standard in many other countries, to Germany. Young academics are initially offered a temporary position in which they can establish their own work groups and push their research forward. At the same time, they are offered the prospect that the centre will continue to fund their research work following positive assessment in an evaluation process. The tenure track option thus offers young scientists reliable career perspectives. Additional Groups in the Centres In the last few years, the Helmholtz Centres have set up their own programmes enabling young scientists to establish independent research groups under the same conditions as their counterparts in the Helmholtz Young Investigators Groups. All in all there are now more than 50 independent groups headed by young researchers in different Helmholtz Centres in addition to the 80 Helmholtz Young Investigators Groups. 4

5 Dr. Julia Boike heads a Helmholtz Young Investigators Group at the Alfred Wegener Institute for Polar and Marine Research. She and her team of five are conducting research into the impact of climate change on the permafrost regions of the Arctic. respective Helmholtz Centre; in the second, the written proposal is evaluated by international experts. Finally, the applicant gives a presentation to an interdisciplinary review panel. This elaborate process ensures that only the best applicants are accepted and that they conduct research on relevant topics. To enable these young scientists to conduct first-rate research, the Helmholtz Association provides each of these groups with 250,000 a year for a period of five years. By 2007, 80 such Young Investigators Groups had been established; over the long term, the Helmholtz Association would like to increase the number of groups to 100. With this measure, the association has already succeeded in attracting numerous researchers from renowned institutions abroad to work in Germany. I came back from my time abroad positively brimming with ideas. Thanks to the Helmholtz Association, I now have the opportunity and the latitude to realize them with the Helmholtz Young Investigators Group I head. Getting the chance to work in this group is one of the best things that happened in my career and was the reason I decided to stay in Germany. How can I apply? The positions for leaders of Helmholtz Young Investigators Groups are advertised each spring in the magazines Nature and Science, among others, and are posted on the Helmholtz website. In addition, the individual Helmholtz Centres regularly call for young scientists to apply to lead research groups. You will find details on the websites of the individual centres via links on the Helmholtz homepage at Dr. Ingo Röhle is leader of a Young Investigators Group at the DLR s Institute for Propulsion Technology. Helmholtz Young Investigators Groups offer young researchers a fairly high degree of freedom, when it comes to initiating new research topics, for instance. I also see a great advantage in the fact that the Young Investigators Groups create a direct link between universities and the respective research centre. 5

6 Programmes for PhD Students: Conducting excellent research and acquiring key skills at the same time Two additional instruments that help make Helmholtz Centres so attractive for outstanding young researchers from around the world are the Helmholtz Graduate Schools and Helmholtz Research Schools, both of which are appealing options for young people who have just finished their studies. A thesis on an interesting and relevant topic lays the foundation for outstanding achievements in the future. The Helmholtz programmes create the ideal parameters for this by providing a structured doctoral framework. In accordance with this, a binding agreement is reached with PhD students on the specific form their academic guidance is to take and a customised qualifications programme is defined for each student. The conditions the Helmholtz Association provides allow me to finish my doctorate quickly than I otherwise could have. The infrastructure, direct access to experts from all fields, excellent information management and the chance to gain additional qualifications and skills, e.g. in workshops at my research centre, all offer PhD candidates invaluable support. John Kettler, PhD student at the Forschungszentrum Jülich. Our needs as PhD students are debated and taken into consideration here on a scientific and management level. I work in health research, and it s encouraging to see research for the benefit of humanity being given real chances already at PhD level. Tilman Janzen, PhD student at the Helmholtz Zentrum München. Kettler and Janzen are the spokesmen for Helmholtz Juniors, the representative and networking body for Helmholtz PhD students. Helmholtz Graduate Schools for PhD Students The Graduate Schools provide an umbrella structure for graduate students from a wide variety of fields. Besides the work in their individual research groups joint seminars and lectures and internships are open to all participants. Additional interdisciplinary training goes far beyond the field of specialisation and thus provides these young people with key skills for a career in industry or science. The Helmholtz Association has approved six graduate schools since 2007: the Helmholtz Interdisciplinary Graduate School for Environmental Research (Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research - UFZ), the Helmholtz Graduate School for Molecular Cell Biology (Max Delbrueck Centre for Molecular Medicine, MDC), the Helmholtz International Graduate School of Cancer Research (German Cancer Research Center), the Helmholtz Graduate School for Polar and Marine Research (Alfred Wegener Institute for Polar and Marine Research), the Helmholtz Graduate School for Hadron and Ion Research (Gesellschaft für Schwerionenforschung, GSI) and the Helmholtz Graduate School for Infection Research (Helmholtz Centre for Infection Research). Ultimately the Helmholtz Association plans to establish Graduate Schools at all of their research centres. Helmholtz Research Schools for outstanding PhD students Helmholtz Research Schools are joint ventures with universities in which up to 25 outstanding graduate students focus as a team on one specific research topic. Thus the students gain valuable experience in working together closely in research teams a form of collaboration that is the basis of all top-notch research today and receive additional training to ensure they have both the hard and soft skills required for their future careers. To ensure they receive the best quality training, the Helmholtz Association has established agreements with distinguished, experienced partners such as the graduate school at Imperial College London. The English-language Helmholtz Research Schools are a major factor in attracting graduate students from abroad to the centres. 6

7 The centres cooperate with distinguished university partners: Biosoft - International Helmholtz Research School on Bio physics and Soft Matter (Forschungszentrum Jülich, Heinrich Heine University Düsseldorf, University of Cologne): The school researches topics including the interaction of complex macromolecules and cell functions. Helmholtz International Research School for Infection Biology (Helmholtz Centre for Infection Research, Hanover Medical School, University of Veterinary Medicine Hanover): The school researches strategies for the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of infections in human and veterinary medicine. Helmholtz International Research School in Molecular Neurobiology (MDC, Freie Universität Berlin, Charité Universitätsmedizin Berlin): The school investigates neurobiological questions relating to the development and function of the brain. Helmholtz International Research School in Translational Cardiovascular and Metabolic Medicine (MDC, Humboldt Universität zu Berlin and Freie Universität Berlin): The school researches the molecular basis of metabolic and cardiovascular diseases and transfers the results into medical practice. Helmholtz Research School for Quark Matter Studies in Heavy Ion Collisions (GSI, Johann Wolfgang von Goethe University, Frankfurt): The school is participating in the international project for the establishment of the FAIR particle accelerator. Helmholtz Space Life Sciences Research School (DLR, University of Bonn, University of Hamburg, Christian-Albrecht University Kiel, German Sport University Cologne, University of Regensburg, RWTH Aachen): The school s research focuses on the health aspects of manned space travel. ESSRES : Helmholtz Earth System Science Research School (Alfred Wegener Institute, University of Bremen, Jacobs University): The school combines life and earth sciences to gain a better understanding of the mechanisms shaping the Earth s climate. German Research School for Simulation Science (Forschungszentrum Jülich, RWTH Aachen): The school does research in the field of computer simulations, allowing students to work directly with supercomputers and sophisticated visualisation systems. Helmholtz Juniors have their say The PHD network aims to foster cooperation among young scientists and researchers. Among other things, it organises an annual meeting where young academics can discuss educational issues and suggestions for improvement with the management of the Helmholtz Association and the heads of the individual centres. Dr. Henner Büsching is a researcher at the Johann Wolfgang von Goethe University, Frankfurt, and coordinates the Helmholtz Research School for Quark Matter Studies in Heavy Ion Collisions, a project carried out in cooperation with the Gesellschaft für Schwerionenforschung. Currently 25 PhD students from 14 countries are working on their theses there. I think it s great to be able to bring young researchers from theoretical and experimental physics together. They work together on one topic in the Helmholtz Research School and get superb training in soft skills, as well. The students are highly committed and are starting to work together really well as a team. Anastasia Galkin is a PhD student at the Helmholtz Centre Potsdam GFZ, German Research Centre for Geosciences. I really had my heart set on the GFZ because of the excellent working environment it offers. There s an intensive interdisciplinary exchange and I receive a lot of support for my research in procuring the necessary equipment, enabling me to attend conferences and in many other areas that are vital for a PhD student. 7

8 Helmholtz Management Academy: Leadership skills for the executives of today and tomorrow In spring 2007, the Helmholtz Association founded an academy to equip talented young people with the specific skills they need for careers in research management. Professional management is not something learned overnight. Thus the Helmholtz Academy prepares young people with backgrounds in science or administration for positions in science management with practically-oriented training. The programme also includes options for the Helmholtz Association executive: board members, managing directors, programme spokespersons and directors of institutes. We have placed an external partner with excellent references in charge of the content and methodology, the Malik Management Zentrum St. Gallen, Switzerland. The young managers training programme lasts two years and includes on-site seminars, which incorporate topics from the projects participants are working on and their actual team and management situations, and independent learning. In addition, a special mentoring programme fosters the development and expansion of a management network within the Helmholtz Association. The academy was launched in autumn 2007 with 30 management trainees from the Helmholtz Centres. In the medium term, we plan to open the academy to participants from universities, other research institutions and technology and researchintensive companies, as well, with the aim of professionalising research management in Germany as a whole. I was thrilled when I was recommended for the Helmholtz Academy. It is providing me with the tools I need to make my work in the field of research management more efficient and more effectively support scientists in what they do. I am convinced that networking among participants of the academy will help administration and research work together more smoothly in the future. Dr. Kristina Böhlke runs the Project Management Organization DESY. By order of the Federal Ministry for Education and Research she and her staff oversee and manage the ministry s project grants in the area of large-scale facilities. Sponsors from research and industry There are currently numerous programmes for human resources development already in place at the individual research centres, some of which go far beyond conventional lecture and seminar series. One sponsoring programme for young scientists at the Deutsches Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt, for instance, allows them to pursue their research and get to know the workings of a commercial enterprise at the same time, enabling them to gain valuable additional qualifications outside their actual field and forge helpful contacts for their future careers. After three years, the companies decide whether they wish to engage their sponsee in a permanent capacity. 8

9 Mentoring: Creating Equal Opportunities, Learning from Others Experience The Helmholtz Association is committed to creating equal opportunities for men and women in research and science. The Helmholtz strategy aimed at pursuing this goal focuses its programmes on the needs of the targeted age groups. A research organisation aiming to achieve top results cannot afford to ignore the scientific potential of women. Thus the Helmholtz Association has established a Mentoring Network programme to help ensure equal opportunities for women in science. Knowledge based on practical experience and a close network of contacts are the prerequisites for a successful career and excellent research management. The Mentoring Network programme is designed specifically to help young women fulfil these prerequisites so that they can plan their careers and assume leadership positions. It is aimed at both young women with a PhD who have already gained initial experience leading research groups or managing projects and at women currently working in administration and management who would like to advance their careers. In each case, the mentor and mentee come from different centres within the Helmholtz Association. This cross-mentoring aims to promote networking within the association as a whole. Dr. Sabine Kirchhoff, a mentee in the Helmholtz Mentoring Network programme, coordinates the Helmholtz Research School for Infection Biology at the Helmholtz Centre for Infection Research and MIDITRAIN, a project funded by the European Union, both programmes for PhD students. I ve been taking part in the Helmholtz Mentoring Network programme for a little over six months now, and it s great. I ve already made a lot of personal contacts with people at other research centres and gained valuable insight into the different structures and problem-solving approaches. The intensive exchange with the mentors and other mentees is very helpful for my future career. The mentoring programmes at the Helmholtz Centres The first mentoring programmes for young women in research established by research centres within the Helmholtz Association go back to For instance, Forschungszentrum Karlsruhe offers a mentoring programme for women in cooperation with the University of Karlsruhe, RWTH Aachen and the Fraunhofer Society. In addition to working with their mentor, participants take part in a number of accompanying training measures aimed at personality development and improving working methods. Similar programmes exist at centres such as the Helmholtz Centre for Infection Research, the German Cancer Research Centre and the GKSS Research Centre Geesthacht. Other centres have established even more comprehensive programmes. In the mentoring programme at the Max Delbrueck Center for Molecular Medicine in Berlin-Buch, mentors offer assistance with research grant applications, help mentees get their bearings in the research environment and give them advice on planning their careers. Some of the centres have programmes aimed at employees in the very early stages of their careers. PhD students at the Helmholtz Zentrum München receive both academic guidance from their thesis advisers and counselling from mentors. At the Forschungszentrum Karlsruhe, too, mentors accompany doctoral students during their doctoral studies. An assessment of the Deutches Zentrum für Luft und Raumfahrt s mentoring programme, which has been open to both men and women for several years now, has shown that it has a significant positive impact on the future course of mentees careers. 9

10 Fostering Young Talent before University: Awakening youngsters interest in the sciences The Helmholtz Association sees its responsibility for fostering young minds as reaching all the way to school and preschool children. The network of Helmholtz school labs and the Tiny Tots Science Corner aim to inspire children s and teenagers enthusiasm for technology and the natural sciences. They have established themselves both as places where children can learn in a non-school context, and as partners that actively shape and enrich science teaching in schools. Tiny Tots Science Corner Science activities are not often featured in preschool education at the moment, despite their inclusion in the official curriculum. This gap is being addressed by the Tiny Tots Science Corner, The Helmholtz Association s school labs open up new perspectives by turning kids into researchers. Working side by side with real scientists, they embark on an exciting intellectual adventure in which they get to explore the worlds of science and technology and get hands-on experience with real experiments. Going outside the classroom gives both teachers and pupils an entirely new angle on learning, and they return to school full of new ideas and enthusiasm. This is how Karl Sobotta and Dr. Susanne Gatti size up the impact of the school labs. Dr. Gatti heads the SEASIDE school lab at the Alfred Wegener Institute and is spokeswoman for the Helmholtz school lab network. Karl Sobotta is head of the JuLab school lab at the Forschungszentrum Jülich and is working together with directors of other school labs to promote the expansion of the network. which is helping preschoolers get hands-on experience with science and technology, to the great benefit of early education. This national initiative is supported by the Helmholtz Association, the business consultancy firm McKinsey & Company, the Siemens AG, the Dietmar Hopp Foundation, and the Federal Ministry for Education and Research. Local networks make sure that the teachers benefit from on-site training workshops that are developed by the Tiny Tots Science Corner. For this purpose, the networks educate the trainers, schools are provided with comprehensive learning materials and participating preschools are awarded the Tiny Tots Science Corner brand. Success Story School Labs The Helmholtz school lab network is a resounding success: Every year, more than 40,000 schoolchildren visit one of the Helmholtz school labs that have been set up in 22 locations so far. The variety of the subjects and methods offered matches the scope of the individual Helmholtz centres main research activities. At the Helmholtz Centre Berlin for Materials and Energy, 14- to19-year-olds can observe atoms using a scanning tunnelling microscope, make a solar cell or experiment with super-conductive materials. The Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research UFZ invites young researchers to determine harmful substances in water and air. And at the Max Planck Institute for Plasma Physics (IPP), which is a part of the Helmholtz Association, pupils can slip into the role of journalists during their school holidays. They conduct interviews with scientists and then produce a newspaper based on their research. The Life Science Lab at the German Cancer Research Center has set up a special programme for especially motivated pupils from year eight on that includes lectures, weekend seminars and summer academies during the school holidays. The Deutsches Zentrum für Luft- und Ramfahrt also maintains six school labs that allow youngsters to conduct exciting experiments and experience the fascination of science. The network of Helmholtz school labs offers activities for children and youngsters of all ages from pre-schoolers and primary schoolchildren, to youngsters in vocational training and secondary school pupils on a science track. 10

11 MEMBERS OF THE HELMHOLTZ ASSOCIATION Alfred Wegener Institute for Polar and Marine Research Am Handelshafen Bremerhaven Telephone Fax Deutsches Elektronen-Synchrotron DESY Notkestraße Hamburg Telephone Fax Deutsches Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt Linder Höhe Cologne Telephone Fax Forschungszentrum Jülich Wilhelm-Johnen-Straße Jülich Telephone Fax Forschungszentrum Karlsruhe Hermann-von-Helmholtz-Platz Eggenstein-Leopoldshafen Telephone Fax German Cancer Research Center Im Neuenheimer Feld Heidelberg Telephone Fax Gesellschaft für Schwerionenforschung Planckstraße Darmstadt Telephone Fax GKSS Research Center Geesthacht Max-Planck-Straße Geesthacht Telephone Fax Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research UFZ Permoserstraße Leipzig Telephone Fax Helmholtz Centre for Infection Research Inhoffenstraße Braunschweig Telephone Fax Helmholtz Centre Berlin for Materials and Energy Glienicker Straße Berlin Telephone Fax / Helmholtz Zentrum München German Research Center for Environmental Health Ingolstädter Landstraße Neuherberg Telephone Fax Helmholtz Centre Potsdam GFZ German Research Centre for Geosciences Telegrafenberg Potsdam Telephone Fax Max Delbrueck Centre for Molecular Medicine, Berlin-Buch (MDC) Robert-Rössle-Straße Berlin Telephone Fax Max Planck Institute for Plasma Physics (IPP) (associated member) Boltzmannstraße Garching Telephone Fax Published by Hermann von Helmholtz Association of German Research Centres Head office Ahrstraße Bonn Telephone Fax Communications and Media Relations Berlin Office Anna-Louisa-Karsch-Straße Berlin Telephone Fax Picture credits: Cover photo: Bierstedt; p. 3: Außerhofer; p. 4: Bierstedt; p. 5: Außerhofer, Fesseler, DLR/Roehle; p. 6: Außerhofer, Fesseler; p. 7: Bierstedt, Weisbrod; Fesseler; p. 8: Außerhofer, Fesseler; p. 9: Außerhofer, Fesseler; p. 10: Bierstedt, Limbach V.i.S.d.P. (Person responsible according to German press law): Thomas Gazlig Edited by: Dr. Angela Bittner, Berit Dannenberg Layout and design: unicom-berlin.de Printed by Mediabogen Berlin; edition of 2,000 copies Status 05/2008

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