Graduate Career

We expect doctoral students to solve an important scientific question. This entails outlining a well-defined project, designing a suitable experimental plan, and independently performing the experiments and interpreting their results. The student’s research should lead to a first author publication in a peer-reviewed international scientific journal.

During their thesis work, doctoral students should obtain all the necessary skills and expertise essential for a successful career in research and science. They should acquire in-depth knowledge of their specific research area, become independent in planning and executing a research project, develop their experimental and problem solving skills as well as the ability to critically evaluate their own results and the literature. They should also become well-versed in communicating their results in oral and written presentations. In addition to pursuing their own immediate projects, students are expected to develop a pro-active attitude in furthering their broader research interests, by following the literature not only in their immediate research area but also adjacent fields.

In their research, doctoral students will be supported by their thesis advisor, who is responsible for providing an interesting research project, the necessary resources and day-to-day advice.  In addition, students will be assisted by a thesis advisory committee (TAC), which will follow the students’ progress.  The TAC comprises at least three scientists with pertinent expertise, one of which may be an external scientist.  The TAC members are chosen by the candidates with the help of their thesis advisor.  The TAC should be set up within 3-6 months of the student’s arrival and meet on a regular basis. It is convened by the student, who submits a short proposal/progress report prior to the meeting. The TAC should evaluate the quality and feasibility of the proposed research, the general progress and direction of the project, presentations at research conferences, publications and the written thesis.

Overall, the doctoral thesis should be completed within 3-4 years. The proposal outlining the project should be presented to the TAC no later than 6 months after commencing the work. The proposal should follow the structure of a DFG proposal (summary, current state of literature, defining the research problem and goals, own preliminary work, specific aims and work plan) and consist of a maximum of 5 pages. This proposal may serve as the basis for fellowship applications. The TAC meets once every 12 to 18 months.

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