MPI-CBG Postdoc Symposium 2011
The MPI-CBG Post Doc symposium 2011 can only be categorised as an unbridled success from the perspective of both the scientific and social aspects of the event.
We heard talks by people belonging to the Post Doc community from the MPI-CBG and from invited speakers (who are also Post Docs but are currently working in institutes from across Europe). Most labs in the MPI-CBG were represented by at least one participant, resulting in a broad range of topics, furthermore, many people presented not only their own work but also an overview of the topic that is the focus of their lab. Having listened to the talks one was left with a better impression of the research done at the MPI-CBG than would be obtained from attending every departmental seminar for a year. A large fraction of talks were of an outstanding quality, equal to that expected at an international conference. A generous amount of time was given for the question and answer section allowing the audience to clarify any points and the presenter to obtain feedback on projects. The latter being particularly important as some projects were at critical stages: either just prior to publication, or in preliminary stages of development.
The talks of the invited speakers were considered by many to be the highlight of the symposium. Speakers were selected that had made a significant contribution to their field during their PhD or Pos Doc. These talks were of particular interest as they told the story of how a good idea can be the start of a promising career. Again, there was a positive input of ideas from the audience. One could imagine that this was of huge benefit to the speakers to receive feedback form people with a diverse range of backgrounds and knowledge bases in the comfort of a supportive environment.
The social aspect of the symposium was also very important. The convivial atmosphere (as well as the beautiful location and excellent weather) gave the opportunity to socialise and make connections with other Post Docs in the MPI-CBG. It can never be emphasised enough how many successful scientific collaborations are based on close, personal bonds, and that, on occasion, it is the informal exchange of ideas that can have the greatest influence on the course on someone's research. The Post Doc symposium (along with other events) is crucial for generating the convivial atmosphere that is an essential part of the ethos of the MPI-CBG. A good example of this was the social event, which was rafting on the Elbe. The invited speakers also contributed to the social aspect of the symposium. Several had been offered positions as junior group leaders and the social part of the meeting was a good opportunity for them to pass on their knowledge of how they had succeeded. Several invited speakers have written to the organisers to say how much they had enjoyed the event.