Group picture of the participants of the PhD Retreat 2023

Networking in the Forest

For those who dream of conducting research as future doctoral students at the Max Delbrück Center, there is anticipation of a vibrant and dedicated community: aspiring researchers deepen their knowledge, exchange ideas, and get to know each other, especially during PhD retreats.

The team challenge took place outdoors…

For one, it may be the opportunity to conduct research through an exchange program in the USA; for another, it could be the appreciation for the state-of-the-art technologies at the Max Delbrück Center. However, for all prospective doctoral candidates, one thing is likely to be particularly important: a lively PhD community. The sense of belonging is strengthened by events like the PhD retreats, as was the case last summer in the green heart of the Schorfheide. After a pause of three years during the pandemic, the 97 participating PhD students truly came together. All of them are pursuing their doctoral studies at the Max Delbrück Center or the “Leibniz-Forschungsinstitut für Molekulare Pharmakologie (FMP)”. The PhD Office and the PhD Representatives organized the event. "Especially for doctoral students at the beginning of their careers, it's important to network and learn from each other," says co-organizer Dr. Sanja Drakulic.


Arriving in the Schorfheide

A special highlight on the first afternoon was the icebreaker games and the team challenge. Like many PhD students, Lotte Brückner began her PhD at the Max Delbrück Center amid the global pandemic. Now, she was looking forward to the opportunity to learn more about her colleagues.


Team Building Events

During the two and a half days, the PhD students presented their thesis topics to their colleagues – in a “Chalk-Talk” or with a scientific poster. Or they discussed a scientific problem they were facing in “Trouble Shooting Talks”. Brigitte Bouman's poster on various types of algorithms for analyzing time series with single-cell data was chosen as the best at the end of the event. Participants also voted on the best talk: Carolin Knappe presented on the influence of mitochondria on macrophage function.


What kind of research is everyone doing?

Dr. Jean-Yves Tano provided information about career opportunities outside the academic world, and a former PhD student from the Gotthardt lab shared about her daily work as a DNA specialist at the Berlin State Criminal Police, revealing that some things are not as they appear on TV; for example, she has never been present at a live shooting, she says. However, sometimes the image of a DNA analyst from television is accurate. For instance, she always wears gloves and a lab coat while working in the lab.


Doctorate – and then what?

The workshops, some of which were organized by PhD students themselves, were interactive: Most participants joined Maximilian Hornisch for a bird-watching walk. Some also ventured into Anita Waltho’s improv theater course. Workshops on image data analysis, microscopy, and gender equality were also on the agenda.


The organizers also came up with an exciting program for the evenings. Participants competed against each other in a quiz or brought the Roaring Twenties back to life in flapper dresses.

The Evenings

Winners of the Best 20’s Outfits: All participants.

PhD student Simone particularly liked that all participants were consistently interested and motivated. The organizers were also pleased, and even a bit emotional at the end of the event. José Nimo, photographer of the event and active member of the PhD representatives at the Max Delbrück Center says: “We are very happy with how the retreat turned out. It shows the PhD community is alive, we are already excited for the next retreat!”