Logo der Universität Hamburg und DESY

PIER PhD reception 2019

10 December 2019

This year's alumni after the graduation ceremony in the Center for Free-Electron Laser Science. Photograph: Jann Wilken

This year's PIER PhD reception took place on 10 December in the foyer of Hamburg's Center for Free-Electron Laser Science.

More than 200 PhD students, their supervisors, friends, relatives, and staff from both DESY and Universität Hamburg (UHH) attended this year's reception to welcome all new doctoral candidates and to honour the graduates of the PIER Helmholtz Graduate School.

Improving working conditions for PhD students

In his welcome address, Prof. Edgar Weckert, DESY Director Photon Science, highlighted the significance of the cooperation of DESY with Hamburg University and encouraged all PhD students to make the best of everything the campus and the PIER Helmholtz Graduate School (PHGS) have to offer. He also talked about a recent survey among PhD students:

“Approximately 90% of the PhD students here on campus would recommend doing a PhD at DESY to others. This result makes us happy, of course, but the result also motivates us to work on the remaining 10% who are not entirely positive about their situation as PhD students. So my message to you is: Please let us know if something is wrong, or if you have suggestions for improving the situation for PhD students. The PIER staff is here to help, and you are also invited to come to my office and talk to me. We need your feedback!”

In the second welcome address of the evening, Prof. Ingenuin Gasser, Vice Dean of Hamburg University’s MIN faculty, encouraged all PhD students to think beyond the boundaries of research and science:

“PhD students in science typically do not start to think about their professional future until they have a postdoc position – but the world has so much more to offer than research, and there a plenty opportunities waiting for you out there, not only in business and industry. I think we in Germany can learn a lot from the US, where a much larger proportion of graduates also considers to found their own company. One of our main objectives in the near future is to establish a start-up friendly culture on campus, and I can only encourage you to make use of the services both the university and DESY have to offer in this respect”, Prof. Gasser concluded.

Prof. Robin Santra, spokesperson of the PHGS, then welcomed the new PhD students of the PHGS: "You have definitely made the right choice to come here. Our campus is evolving as one of the most exciting places in the world to do science." He then highlighted the growth of the graduate school since its foundation in 2013: "In the beginning, we only had about 30 registered members. This number has increased in only three years to almost 400 registered PhD students, of which around 60 percent are international. I think this reflects both the success of the graduate school, and the growing attractiveness of the city of Hamburg for researchers”, Prof. Santra said.

Dark matters in art and science

In the keynote lecture on “Dark Matters in Art and Science”, Prof. Christian Schwanenberger, lead scientist at DESY, and artist Jana Schumacher talked about the surprising similarities between art and science. “The approach of artists and scientist is somehow comparable: Both are looking for something without knowing what it precisely is”, Prof. Schwanenberger pointed out. “We physicists have never actually seen dark matter, for example, even though we expect it to exist. And an artist never knows how a painting or an object may look like at the end of the process of creating art.” Schwanenberger and Schumacher presented some pieces of art that were developed for an “art meets science” event at DESY called “Dark matter”, such as a mock “space collector vehicle” and a painting by Tanja Hehmann that reminded Prof. Schwanenberger of a scientific image.

Thanks and farewell to DOIT and the graduates

During the PIER PhD reception, the team of DOIT ("Doktoranden-Initiative"), the elected representatives of all PhD students, were honoured. "DOIT's commitment, various activities and positive attitude are an invaluable element of graduate life on the campus", said Stefanie Tepass, lead coordinator of the PHGS.

The reception ended with the graduation ceremony, in which Prof. Robin Santra introduced this year´s alumni to the audience and personally congratulated 17 graduates to their doctorate, among them one PhD student who just passed his oral exam one day before the reception.

The evening was accompanied by beautiful songs of Hamburg-based choir HafengeBEAT, the farewell tune being an African song called ”Ndihamba Nawe”. The song indicates that everything will be just fine and that everybody should look forward to the next stage of life.

The PIER PhD reception ended with a lively get-together with delicious drinks and food in the foyer.

Some impressions from the PIER PhD Reception 2019

Photos: Jann Wilken

Chu Wang
Infection and Structural Biology
Younes Otarid
Particle and Astroparticle physics
Florian Christie
Daniel Marx
Event Calendar
21 Jan. 2021 to 25 Nov. 2021
Chaired by: Thomas Tschentscher (European XFEL) ; Changbum Kim (PAL-XFEL) et al.
Location: Zoom
21 Jan. 2021 to 22 Jan. 2021
Chaired by: Bernd Klein
Location: online
21 Jan. 2021 - 10:00
Speaker: Danny Porath (The Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Israel)
Location: Meeting-ID: 995 7052 0017, Password: 911851 (https://desy.zoom.us/j/99570520017)
21 Jan. 2021 - 11:30
Speaker: Henrique Rubira (T (Cosmology))
22 Jan. 2021 - 14:00
Speaker: Claudia Felser (Max Planck Institute for Chemical Physics of Solids, Dresden, Germany)
25 Jan. 2021 - 15:00
Speaker: Gregor Kaelin (DESY)
Location: zoom
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