Network Meeting of the Humboldt Foundation for Research-Alumni
Photos: Humboldt Foundation / David Ausserhofer
Six international scientists visiting Heidelberg research institutions participated in the Research-Alumni Conference Germany of the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation in Berlin from 27 to 29 November 2013. The objective of the meeting was to recruit future Research-Alumni as "ambassadors" of German research institutions while strengthening their bonds with the host universities from the very first day. As winner of the first call for proposals of the "Research Alumni of German Universities" competition, Heidelberg University was one of the few select German universities to send representatives to this network meeting. Six visiting scientists, ranging from post-doc to professor and displaying high potential as ambassadors, were selected for the conference. After their stay in Heidelberg, they will promote Heidelberg as a research location and act as person of contact for interested scientists at home.
The conference, which was attended by about 120 international visiting researchers and representatives of German universities and research institutions, covered such topics as the tasks of visiting scientists as research ambassadors and networkers, and the possibilities of funding further research assignments of the participants. On this topic there was a panel discussion with representatives of the most important German funding institutions for science and research which was moderated by Barbara Sheldon, Heidelberg alumna and head of the Strategic Planning division of the Humboldt Foundation. The representatives of the Humboldt Foundation, German Research Foundation, Fraunhofer Society, Helmholtz Society, Leibniz Association and Max Planck Society presented their organisations and the funding opportunities offered by them, and talked about Germany as a research location as well as about trends in international scientific cooperation. Special booths offered information and advice for interested academics.
Attendees from all continents and many different German universities exchanged their views and experiences in work groups: They discussed the research situation in their home countries, the significance of Germany as a research location and the possibilities open to them as ambassadors of their German hosts. The discussions cast light on the different framework conditions in the various countries and generated many ideas relating to the scientists' "ambassadorial duties" after their return home. The participants also drew up "wish lists" for their German host universities.
"We've learned a lot, but we're still at the beginning", concluded Ulrike Albrecht, head of Strategy and External Relations of the Humboldt Foundation, at the end of the conference. She went on to say that the Humboldt Foundation and the universities would continue to look for new ways of staying in touch with the Research-Alumni. In the medium term, she added, they were looking to establish a close cooperation between Research-Alumni and their host universities. The conference also marked the launch of a new network of "Research-Alumni Officers" at German universities and research institutions. To promote the networking of all those responsible for Research-Alumni affairs, the Humboldt Foundation has extended invitations to an initial meeting for Research-Alumni Officers in May 2014.
The participants from Heidelberg were very pleased with the conference. “I really appreciate the opportunity to learn and meet other researchers that Heidelberg University gave me at the Humboldt conference in Berlin", says Chris Orivig, a chemist at the University of British Columbia, Canada. Biologist Inés Fernandez Ulibarri of the Universidad de Barcelona in Spain was also pleased to accept her invitation: "I am very glad to participate in the first Research-Alumni conference. It was incredibly well organised and very informative regarding research and funding opportunities in Germany. People were open to sharing ideas and discussions. Excellent meeting!" Martin W. Dusinberre, a historian at Newcastle University in England, stressed that he found it very interesting even as a humanities scholar to hear about all the scientific opportunities and funding organisations in Germany.
“The subjects discussed at the conference were very important, not just for the scientists and scholars themselves, but also for the representatives of the universities", says Silke Rodenberg, head of Heidelberg Alumni International. "For example, we learned that the internet is far less important to scientists as a source of information about research stays than we assumed. Many got the idea for the stay in Germany from people in their personal circle, i.e. professors or colleagues. This is in line with our idea of "Research Ambassadors" who provide information on research opportunities in Heidelberg within their personal network."
The participants from Heidelberg:
- Prof. Dr. Martin W. Dusinberre, Newcastle University (UK), Humboldt Research Fellow at the Cluster of Excellence "Asia and Europe in a Global Context" (Asian history) from September 2012 to August 2014.
- Dr. Stefan Kristensen, Université de Genève (Switzerland), Humboldt Research Fellow at the Center for Psychosocial Medicine of Heidelberg University Medical Centre (psychopathology/philosophy) since September 2013.
- Prof. Dr. Oded Lipschits, Tel Aviv University (Israel), Humboldt Research Fellow at the Faculty of Theology (archaeology) in September 2013.
- Prof. Dr. Chris Orvig, University of British Columbia (Canada), Humboldt Research Fellow at the Department of Inorganic Chemistry (molecular and coordination chemistry) from July to December 2013.
- Dr. Inés Fernandez Ulibarri, Universidad de Barcelona (Spain), Visiting Scientist Fellow at the German Cancer Research Center (Helmholtz- Young Investigators Group "Oncolytic Adenoviruses") from July to December 2013.
- Dr. Seraphine Wegner, University of Chicago (USA), Humboldt Research Fellow at the Institute for Physical Chemistry (natural products chemistry) since January 2013.