The 5th General Assembly of the Leibniz PhD Network took place online during a pandemic!

This years General Assembly was for the first time online

On the first day, the event was opened by the former Leibniz PhD Network Spokespersons Anja Jahn and Jacob Gorenflos. After welcoming all participants, they introduced the Network’s structure, the Steering Committee, and shortly summarized the achievements of the Working Groups in the last year.

As the ongoing crisis prevented a face-to-face event, our 5th Leibniz PhD Network General Assembly (GA) 2020 took place online from 1st to 2nd October 2020. This however opened also for the first time the possibility to invite all doctoral researchers of the Leibniz Association: Around 168 doctoral researchers from 57 Leibniz institutes and museums met to exchange experiences, to network, and the representatives voted for a  new steering group.

As our first invited speaker, Leibniz Association Secretary General Dr. Bettina Böhm gave the welcome address, in which she highlighted the difficulties created by the pandemic in the lives of all doctoral researchers , both professionally and personally. She reminded the audience that the Leibniz Head Office published an official statement on the topic. Furthermore, Dr. Böhm called attention to the fact that the Head Office is seeking to take action to address the results of the 2019 PhD survey. She felt optimistic about the positive trend observed in comparison to the 2017 results. Finally, she discussed subjects such as career paths and counseling, good scientific practice, and handling conflicts – the latter two being addressed by a set of guidelines and a new advice center for conflict prevention on the Leibniz Network’s homepage.

This year’s keynote speaker, Dr. Antje Wegner (DZHW), presented insightful numbers from the NACAPS panel on practicalities related to the lives of doctoral researchers. Among these were discussed the average PhD contract duration of 27 months, the average income, mental health, a decrease in the number of scholarships, and the change in career aspirations.

During the ‘Family and Friends’ session, the goals and accomplishments of each Working Group were presented by their coordinators. Especially this year, many projects that started several years ago were finally published and distributed. Moreover, the Leibniz Alumni Network, the Max-Planck PhD Network, N2, the Leibniz Postdoc Network,  the Leibniz Network of Works & Staff Council, and a representative from the Leibniz Association Head Office were also invited to present their work as relevant partners of the Leibniz PhD Network.  Meanwhile, we also invited relevant partners of the Leibniz PhD Network. During the lunch break, networking was enabled by different digital rooms, as well as an informal cooking workshop with former section E Spokesperson Guilherme Abuchahla. It was a great cooking event!

The entire afternoon of the first day was dedicated to connecting with the different Working Groups. Recruitment of new members by the different groups was highly encouraged and successful, resulting in a fruitful exchange of ideas and experiences as well as the launching of new initiatives.

On the second day, only voting doctoral representatives participated. It started with an overview of the network’s finances for the 2019/2020 term by treasurer Antoine Verrière. He elaborated on the event founding opportunities that were introduced by the current Steering Committee. Furthermore, he presented the two collaborative local events that were chosen after the first round of applications in February 2020. Annika Diekmann, Section A Spokesperson presented the Deutsches Bergbau-Museum Bochum as the suggested venue for the GA 2021. The highlight of every General Assembly is the election of a new Steering Committee for the new term. The newly elected Steering Committee is as follows:

  • Pankhuri Saxena (DPZ), Leibniz PhD Network Spokesperson
  • Jan Klenke (GIGA), Leibniz PhD Network Spokesperson
  • Philipp Koch (FMP), Treasurer
  • Ali Dogan (ZMO), Section A Spokesperson
  • Serhii Svynarets (IfL), Section B Spokesperson
  • Sandy Bauherr (DRFZ), Section C Spokesperson
  • Emilio Quesada (IHP), Section D Spokesperson
  • Matthias Renz (IGZ), Section E Spokesperson
The new Steering Committee 2020/2021 elected by doctoral representatives of Leibniz institutes

Congratulations to them! Inspired by the spirit of the General Assembly and Steering Committee 2019/2020, the eight newly elected members are looking forward to carrying on the work of the year to come and thanked the previous Steering Committee for their incredible work during their term!

After the intensive elections, fields of action for the next year were presented and discussed in the “Future of the Network” sessions. The perspective of future events and Working Group projects is very promising. The implementation of the newly released Leibniz PhD agreement in every institute and the pandemic-related contract extensions were widely discussed.

The closing session concluded the entire event and showcased the perks of working in cooperation with fellow doctoral researchers towards a common goal, aiming to improve the PhD period for all doctoral researchers in the Leibniz PhD Network.  See you next year at the General Assembly of 2021 in Bochum!

If you want to learn more about the General Assembly, check the protocol here.

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