Networking Event for Visiting Researchers
All Photos: Heidelberg Alumni International
What makes a research location attractive to international scientists? Why is international exchange so important for research and universities? And what do visiting researchers expect from their stay abroad? These were the central questions posed at an event on the subject of "Internationality and Research at Heidelberg University" that was organised by the Research Alumni Network in Heidelberg on 22 May 2015. The networking event entitled "International Research Partnerships: Challenge and Opportunity for Visiting Researchers and Hosting Institutions at Heidelberg University" was aimed at visiting researchers, their hosts and any University employees involved in welcoming and working with international researchers and doctoral students.
The event, which attracted more than 50 visiting scientists and University staff, was divided into two programme blocks: First, eight researchers and employees of University and external service institutions gave brief presentations on various aspects of research and internationality. The participants then formed four discussion tables at which they spoke about research conditions in the visiting researchers' home countries, the participants' expectations of the host institutions and the research stay, the hosts' expectations of their guests and the possibilities in the time after the guests’ return home.
University President Prof. Dr Bernhard Eitel kicked off the event with an overview of the numerous internal and external research connections of Heidelberg University. He described the significance of the Excellence Initiative for the University and its cooperation with regional research institutions and explained Heidelberg's positioning in comparison with other German universities. During the subsequent brief presentations, Prof Dr Stephen Hashmi, Vice-President Research and Structure, outlined the international profile of Heidelberg University and explained why strategic international partnerships are an important prerequisite to investigating major research topics. Prof. Dr Joachim Wambsganß, Director of the Centre for Astronomy, and Prof. Dr Peter Comba, Director of the International Science Forum Heidelberg, explained the significance of international exchange and stays abroad for the University, and for research in general.
Other topics included the services offered by Heidelberg University to international visiting scholars, a brief presentation of the Research Alumni Network and experiences with the HAIreconnect scholarship programme. Prof. Dr Christiane von Stutterheim of the Institute for German as a Foreign Language Philology emphasised that the programme could offer support to excellent scientists who did not have adequate research conditions in their home countries. Finally Research Ambassadors Dr Lipi Thukral from India and Prof. Dr Sandro Moraldo from Italy reported on their connections to Heidelberg University and their reasons for representing their Alma mater as ambassadors.
In the second part of the event, the visiting scientists discussed in small groups about aspects that must be considered for a research stay abroad in order to make it a success for everyone involved. They stressed the importance of specific information on funding options and language in preparing the stay. It became clear, among other things, that there is much need for better communication between foreign and domestic researchers, and in some cases also for intercultural training courses before the researchers take up their work. The hosts of visiting researchers expect an exchange of ideas and methods and an expansion of the network from their guests' stay. Ideally, this cooperation will continue and keep growing after the guests' return to their home countries.
During the subsequent reception, the participants were able to continue the discussion in greater depth and meet an even wider group of people. "I really enjoyed the event. I was able to develop a number of new contacts, for instance with Prof. Stephen Hashmi, who maintains good relations with colleagues in China", says Tianhui Chen from China, who currently works at the German Cancer Research Center.
Alle Fotos: Heidelberg Alumni International