MPSP Autumn School 2021

MPSP Autumn School 2021

Scientific exchange, soft skill training and lots of fun!

October 01, 2021

For almost two years, Fellows and doctoral candidates of the Max Planck School of Photonics were only able to network virtually due to the corona pandemic. Even if we have learned a lot during this time, especially for our core competency “digital teaching”, virtual meetings could never completely replace personal networking. So all participants were looking forward to our MPSP Autumn School in Suhl this year. In this recap, you’ll find out what was going on in the Thuringian Forest and what fish have to do with photonics.

The MPSP Spring and Autumn Schools

Fellows and doctoral candidates at 17 research institutions in eight different German cities form the Max Planck School of Photonics. In accordance with our motto “the whole is more than the sum of its parts”, the MPSP particularly promotes the exchange between these scientists and thus stimulates new research ideas as well as the personal development of the young scientists in the network. Even if this happens throughout the year in the form of digital events and virtual courses, the personal exchange makes our research network so special. That's why we meet twice a year for Spring and Autumn Schools full of soft skill workshops, scientific exchanges and discussions about the future of our school. In addition, of course we have a lot of fun together!

The best of both worlds - hybrid event in 2021

The Autumn Schools are intended to network doctoral candidates with one another so that long-term research partnerships and friendships can develop across our locations. That is why we schedule the Autumn School at the end of September, so the newly admitted doctoral students can get to know their colleagues a few weeks after the start of their studies. Since not all new MPSP students were able to come to Germany in time this year, the first two days of the school consisted of virtual workshops that could be attended from anywhere. Depending on their interests, the PhD candidates could, for example, improve their negotiation skills, learn more about the topics of “project management” or “grant writing” or take part in an intercultural training. Afterwards, all doctoral candidates who were able to set it up went to the Thuringian Forest for three days of personal exchange - of course under strict hygiene requirements and with a corona virus test at check-in.

High up and color-changing fishes


MPSP PhD candidates climb lofty heights during team building in the climbing park


Focused on the game - MPSP PhD candidates trying out "Adventure Golfing"


Fluorescent fish! A lot to discover in the marine aquarium

In order to get to know each other better in a relaxed atmosphere, the “in person” Autumn School began with team building on group excursions. While some of the doctoral candidates climbed lofty heights in the climbing park, a second group demonstrated their accuracy in "Adventure Golf". Meanwhile, the third group tried to scientifically explain the color change of exotic fish in the marine aquarium. In a good mood, we then started the scientific exchange with a workshop on the “Importance of social exchange for our scientific life”. The highlight of the day followed in the evening: at a hybrid panel discussion on "Research metrics and evaluation of individual academic performance", MPSP Fellows Prof. Isabel Staude and Prof. Stefan Nolte, Dr. Nina Mainzer (Senior Editor Nature Physics), Dr. Claus Roll (Director OPTICA Europe) and Dr. Christian Heide (MPSP Alumnus and Post-Doc) answered questions of the MPSP candidates.

Workshops and scientific exchange at the poster session

The second “personal” day of the Autumn School, started again with workshops for the doctoral candidates – this time on site and on topics such as “Academic Writing”, “Speech Training” or “Read and Memo Techniques”. During the coffee breaks there was a special surprise: the MPSP's digital teaching team had set up various show cases for digital teaching on site, such as green screen teaching scenarios for lecture hall or home office as well as a virtual augmented laboratory setup and VR -Glasses that put the PhD candidates directly into a virtual laboratory.

In the afternoon, hot scientific discussions emerged during the poster session. Our MPSP candidates were so enthusiastic that the dinner was almost forgotten! The “Best Poster Award”, which was jointly elected, went to MPSP candidate Dziugas Kimbaras. He is doing research at the LMU Munich on the subject of "Broadband stimulated Raman spectroscopy using a high-power oscillator".

The last official program item on the following day were discussion rounds on the subjects of “Diversity in Photonics”, “Digitization of (practical) teaching”, “Obligation to teach during the PhD” and “How do I choose my next career step”. The doctoral students developed great approaches and ideas we will also include into the MPSP program. Unfortunately, afterwards it was already time to say goodbye. Little by little, everyone made their way back to their respective MPSP location in order to implement the new food for thought in their own laboratory or at their desk.

We are already looking forward to see the results at the poster session of the Spring School 2022 and to exchange ideas with everyone there again. Then, the Fellows will also join and get to know hopefully all the new MPSP faces!

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