PhD students of the IMPRS-GS benefit from the mentoring by their individual Thesis Advisory Committee (TAC). The TAC consists of the primary supervisor and two additional faculty. The PhD student proposes the members of the TAC, which then requires approval by the program committee. TACs typically include members from different institutions to foster cross-institutional and cross-disciplinary interaction.
The main task of the PhD students in IMPRS-GS is to conduct a research project on the highest possible level, and the TAC is an important instrument to ensure this. However, in addition to the hands-on training in the individual laboratories a central core curriculum is offered that ensures that PhD students receive a broader training in Genome Science, have access to the methods and approaches required to tackle their specific research questions, and familiarize themselves with the interdisciplinary approach in modern Genome Science. The PhD students of the IMPRS-GS are primarily regarded as professional researchers whose work constitutes a central contribution to the scientific knowledge worldwide. Graduate education by the IMPRS-GS thus provides an optimal balance between the need of the PhD students to have freedom and best opportunities to conduct scientific work, and the need for training in scientific methods and professional skills required for a rapidly changing job market inside and outside academia. The guiding principles for the doctoral training in the IMPRS-GS are
Lecture series in Genome Science
In a lecture series Genome Science, current topics and methods IMPRS-GS faculty members present the most recent questions, approaches, and current research methods in Genome Science. At the beginning of the lecture series, a broad introduction to experimental and theoretical Genome Science is given. Faculty members will then give a lecture on the current topics and methods used in their laboratories once per year. The lecture series serves to give a broad overview of Genome Science to the PhD students, but also to foster interdisciplinarity, and to initiate collaborative research projects within IMPRS-GS. It is expected that the IMPRS PhD students participate.
Research methods courses
In addition, the IMPRS-GS will offer both, short specific methods courses and extended general methods courses within the course system of the GGNB. All PhD students have the opportunity to get trained in all the methods they consider relevant for conducting their research project successfully. PhD students will select methods courses themselves, after consulting with their supervisor, but the TAC may also recommend specific methods courses after the first meeting when the project outline is finalized.
The goal of the short methods courses is to make research methods that are well established in one of the participating laboratories available to the PhD student community. They are taught in the corresponding research lab and are usually supervised by experienced PhD students or postdocs who, through their own research, have had extensive training and experience in the respective methods. The short methods courses are usually taught in 1-3 day units. Course topics include, for example, DNA sequencing library preparation, pre-processing of sequencing data, quantitative proteomics, advanced bioimaging, amongst others.
Beyond the short courses, IMPRS-GS PhD students will also have access to extended methods courses that are offered by the GGNB. Extended methods courses are conducted in special research training laboratories. They are presently offered once per year and typically last one to two weeks. Currently available extended methods courses include advanced light microscopy, electrophysiology and bioanalytics. Through the research training labs it is possible to train doctoral researchers in advanced techniques that require sophisticated equipment and more time than provided by the specific methods courses. Courses involve lectures by local and external experts and practical training.
Annual retreat and speaker invitations
The PhD students of the IMPRS-GS are supported in their organization of annual retreats, in which they report on their latest results and future planning of their thesis project.
PhD students have the opportunity to invite external speakers to the retreats, and also for individual seminar talks on campus throughout the academic year.
Campus seminars, conference and workshop participation
PhD students of the IMPRS-GS are encouraged to present their work to a broader audience within the framework of the Campus Seminar. These seminars are organized by the MPIs for Biophysical Chemistry and for Dynamics and Self-Organization to foster scientific exchange between research groups. These seminars are held by PhD students, postdocs, group leaders, and directors, and are meant to inform other groups at the Göttingen Campus about ongoing research projects.
IMPRS-GS will also encourage the PhD students to attend one external workshop or conference each year. In the beginning, a more general conference is recommended, to get an overview of the research field. Then, a specific workshop is recommended to acquire particular skills or learn the latest methods or bioinformatics approaches from international experts. Finally, the PhD students are encouraged to attend a major conference in their field and to give a poster or an oral presentation.
Additional activities and social integration
A great asset of the new IMPRS-GS is the availability of additional skills courses, social activities, industry excursions, and career advice provided by the GGNB. Training of the doctoral researchers in professional skills is an important complement to the scientific training. These activities are aimed at endowing the PhD students with qualifications required for leading positions in a professional environment both inside and outside academia. The courses cover various topics: Scientific Communication, Good Scientific Practice and Intellectual Property, Self-Management and Organizational Skills, and Career Development.
Female PhD students of the IMPRS-GS will have the opportunity to join the organizer team of female PhD students and postdocs for the "Women`s Careers and Network Symposia", hosted by the GGNB every 1.5 years under the auspices of the Federal Ministry of Family, Senior Citizens, Women and Youth. These meetings with approx. 150-200 participants aim at bringing primarily female PhD students into contact with women who have had a successful career and thus may serve as role models. Workshop and networking sessions allow for individual and group discussions of female young researchers with external speakers.