Doctoral Academy Day 2023
Making a Difference? - Communicating Scientific Research in Challenging Times
November 23, 2023, 12.30–4.30 pm, Unicorn Conference Deck, Schubertstraße 6a, 8010 Graz
Climate crisis, COVID-pandemic, various political crises – the past few years have shown how important it is to provide the non-scientific public with scientifically based information on the impact of ongoing developments on their daily lives. This responsibility, it seems, is increasingly taken on by the scientific communities themselves. The Doctoral Academy Day 2023 will focus on the topic of science communication during challenging times, and the role of researchers in bridging the gap between experts and activists.
After all, if the research community does not talk straight – who else will?
The Doctoral Academy Day is an annual event with a twofold objective:
- Firstly, it serves as a platform for the member consortia of the Academy to present their research to the general public.
- Secondly, it provides a forum for the discussion of current issues regarding the promotion and advancement of early stage researchers.
The event is designed as an open space, everyone interested - from Master students to doctoral supervisors, from doctoral candidates to research managers - is invited to attend.
The Myth of Meritocracy? Equal Opportunities for Research Careers (2022)
November 17th, 2022, 2.15–6.00 pm
SZ 15.21, Resowi A, 2nd floor, Universitätsstraße 15, 8010 Graz
Doctoral Academy Day 2022 on the Myth of Meritocracy in Academia
In academia, there seems to exist this prevalent notion that the most basic and vital elements that constitute the academic life – receiving grants, research positions, publishing one’s own research, even the access to higher education itself – are made accessible solely based on talent, effort, and achievement. The Doctoral Academy Day 2022 challenged this myth of meritocracy by providing an open space for discussions, in order to raise awareness of the non-academic factors that can hinder career progression as well as explore strategies to create equal career opportunities for all researchers.
In her opening statement, Vice-Rector for Internationalisation and Equal Opportunities, Mireille van Poppel emphasized the importance of considering factors outside academia when providing access to higher education and (paid) research activities, thus creating truly equal opportunities within all academic fields. Director of the Doctoral Academy, Reinhard Alkofer, who endorsed this sentiment in his speech, also addressed the importance of educating and training a diverse set of researchers, who are equipped to provide valuable insights and diversified skill sets in handling the manifold crises of todays societies. Following these opening remarks, former Director of the Doctoral Academy Peter Scherrer presented the newly established Office of Ombudspersons of the Doctoral Academy, which offers independent and non-partisan counselling and mediation for PhD candidates via its ombudspersons. Said ombudspersons are experienced researchers from different disciplinary backgrounds who follow the principles of strict confidentiality, independence and neutrality.
Do We All Have the Same Opportunities?
The keynote on “Do We All Have the Same Opportunities? Equality of Opportunity in Higher Education and Academia” was held by Ann-Kristin Kolwes. In her talk, Ann-Kristin Kolwes engaged the participants not only by providing insights into the perspective and issues of first generation researches via sharing her own experiences, but also by creating an interactive discussion space, in which participants where asked to participate in different surveys as well as share their own observations, experiences and opinions on the subject matter. After a short coffee break, this self-analytical sentiment was carried over into the table talks, where participants were asked to join two table talks for 25 minutes each and discuss different aspects that might influence academic work and careers. These talks were hosted by experts within their field and dealt with:
- unequal career success patterns for women and men in academia, the variety of causes and dynamics involved and success factors in breaking up those patterns (table hosted by Christa Neuper);
- classism within academia and its implications for epistemology, equality and the mental well-being of researchers (table hosted by Iris Mendel);
- the effects of permanent transit for displaced and/or international scholars, such as the constant requirement of adaption to new cultures, languages and other factors (table hosted by Derya Özkaya);
- and the urgent need for a reconsideration of vulnerability in academia and the development of a caring university in light of mental and emotional struggles that accompany academic careers and are more often than not caused by organizational structures and processes themselves (table hosted by Ulla Kriebernegg).
The Doctoral Academy Day 2022 ended with an informal buffet and drinks.
The Digital Era and Doctoral Research (2021)
Doctoral Academy Day 2021 on “Digital Transformation” and doctoral researchers
Doctoral researchers communicate, collaborate and research with digital tools in virtual environments. In this context, the Doctoral Academy Day 2021 focussed under the headline “The Digital Era and Doctoral Research” on newly emerging opportunities and fields of actionpass. Fitting to the thematic approach the event on November 4, 2021, took place in a hybrid format – in the Meerscheinschlössl and via uniMeet.
In the opening talk with host Gudrun Salmhofer the Vice-Rector for Research and Career Development, Joachim Reidl, and the Director of the Doctoral Academy, Peter Scherrer, outlined the extraordinary impact of the digitalization on all aspects of academic life. Following this, Paul Spencer defined in his keynote “The Digitally Agile Researcher” three cornerstones of successful research careers in digital environments: making academic expertise visible on the internet, actively using online networking opportunities, and ethically reflecting on and dealing with current practices in academic online publishing.
A traditional part of the Doctoral Academy Day is the introduction of new Academy member Consortia by doctoral candidates. This year, Nathalie Frieß presented the Consortium “Complexity of Life”, Tamara Berger the Consortium “Biomolecular Structures and Interactions”.
Research with High Potential
State of the art research using digital approaches was introduced in the presentations of three doctoral researchers: “Utilization of machine learning tools to map and monitor biological soil crusts” by Stefan Herdy, “Digitisation of Life Sciences: Transforming Bio-molecular Research” by Amit Singh, and “Bringing together SSH, technology and engineering: A way towards trustworthy and responsible research and innovation” by Hristina Veljanova.
Mario Mitter, doctoral graduate with a successful career as data scientist, contributed the perspective of employers outside academia on doctoral research and digital challenges. Decisivie for hiring job applicants is not so much the knowledge of specific digital tools but rather the ability of doctoral graduates for independent problem solving.
A Hitchhiker's Guide to Academia (and how to return safely) (2020)
The Hitchhiker's Guide Through Academia. Internationalised Research Careers and Lives.
The Doctoral Academy Day discusses success strategies and possible challenges for internationalising research, research careers, and researchers' lives. Contributors will be an international expert in the field of early-career researcher promotion, as well as speakers of the Doctoral Academy’s Consortia.
Report: Global Visibility
For the first time as an online event: Doctoral Academy Day 2020 on international research careers
The fifth Doctoral Academy Day - held online for the first time - on November 12, 2020, was devoted to the conditions for success and challenges of international research careers under the title "A Hitchhiker's Guide Through Academia".
Christof Gattringer, Vice-Rector for Research and Career Development, and Peter Scherrer, Director of the Doctoral Academy, opened the virtual conference and emphasized in their speeches that it is particularly important in times of restricted mobility to continue promoting early stage researchers in international contexts.
In her keynote address, Bettina Hollstein, the managing director of the Max Weber Kolleg at the University of Erfurt, made it clear which aspects need to be taken into account, especially when it comes to institutional support for early stage researchers. Hollstein pointed out, among other things, that mobility does not only affect individuals, but that enabling international academic work should be the structure-building goal of all areas - research, teaching and services - of a graduate institution.
Be visible internationally: but how? Helmut Eberhart, academic coordinator of the European University Alliance Arqus, presented the funding opportunities that this EU project offers internationally oriented early stage researchers. Even if it is currently difficult to use these opportunities, according to Eberhart, the coronavirus will not be able to permanently affect the exchange of research and ideas across national borders.
In a final round table, Monika Oberer, Daniel Boese, Tina Ehrke-Rabel and Florian Bieber - all four speakers of member consortia of the Doctoral Academy - reflected on the importance of personal mobility and active international networking for their academic careers. In the discussion led by Gudrun Salmhofer, Head of the Department of Academic Services, the connection between constant mobility, precarious working conditions and a flexible living environment was pointed out. Early-stage researchers have to decide, the participants agreed, whether they would like to use the extraordinary professional development opportunities of international research stays within these challenging framework conditions.
[Translation of the report from Nov 17, 2020 about the Doctoral Academy Day 2020 by Gerald Lind & Konstantin Tzivanopoulos (Johanna Stadlbauer), see German version here: https://news.uni-graz.at/en/detail/article/weltweit-sichtbar/]
PostDocs. Chances and Challenges (2019)
The "Doctoral Academy Day" focused on the training of young researchers. Four new consortia were welcomed.
The next generation of scientists is an important resource of a university. This includes the training of doctoral students and postdocs at the highest level. At the University of Graz, this was institutionalized with the Doctoral Academy in 2016; young scientists are given the opportunity to research and work in internationally oriented and funded doctoral programs. On October 24, 2019, at the Doctoral Academy Day plans were presented and discussed, and the new members were also welcomed. In addition to Peter Scherrer, Director of the Academy, and Vice Rector for Research Christof Gattringer, the Vice President of the Austrian Science Fund FWF as well as Uni Graz researcher Ellen Zechner were guests. The keynote address on "Postdocs. Changes and Challenges" was held by Karina Prasad from the University of Cambridge.
Interview with vice rector Christof Gattringer:
"Young scientists: where do you see goals in the future?"
"In the area of promoting young scientists, there are two central goals: First, the Doctoral Academy will be significantly expanded and equipped with high quality standards. In particular, the DocAcademy should of course also take advantage of the new opportunities that arise within the framework of the Arqus Alliance. With six European partner universities from Bergen to Granada, there are interesting new offers for the exchange of doctoral students and expanded options for scientific cooperation.
The second goal is to establish a support structure for postdocs to help them in this very critical phase of their academic career. Here, it seems important to me to support networking within this group of employees, which is so important for research at the university, and to offer a wide range of continuing education measures so that employability can also be improved outside of academia."
Public Lecture by Karina Prasad - Head of the Office of Postdoctoral Affairs at University of Cambridge
Presentation by Ellen Zechner - Vice President of the Austrian Science Fund
The Academy's new member consortia:
Metabolic and Cardiovascular Disease (MCD)
Molecular Metabolism (MOBILES)
Catalytic Mechanisms and Applications of Oxidoreductases (CATALOX)
Europeanising Southeastern Studies (ESOE)
How can curiosity become a profession? (2018)
The Doctoral Academy Day 2018 began with presentations of four doctoral candidates of the new member consortia. The inspiring presentations of Stella Rehbein (Resonant Self-World Relations in Ancient and Modern Socio-Religious Practices), Angelika Ziegelbecker (Ecology and Evolution in Changing Environments), Peter Egger (Synergies in Business Law) and Michael Hollerer (Functional Nanostructures in Physics, Chemistry and Life Sciences) provided an overview of the numerous research activities.
The introduction to the second part of the Doctoral Academy Day dealt with “Career Paths for Doctoral Candidates” and was given by Karin Grasenick (convelop cooperative knowledge design gmbh).
In her short speech, she underlined the importance of networks within the scientific community for a successful academic career.
Afterwards, Sebastian Kronenberger, Katharina Schroeer, Mario Schröck and Bao Quoc Tang, all four alumni of member consortia of the Doctoral Academy, talked about their career paths. They explained how they developed career strategies during the doctoral phase, which strategies in the context of opening up future career options were successful and how they planned their networking activities.
The Doctoral Academy Day finished with the Public Lecture “Networking for Academics: 5 Places to Start” by Linda Greve (Aarhus University). In her talk, Greve investigated the phenomenon of networking in the academic context, stressed the significance of a solid strategic network and elaborated on the five topics how to start building it.
PRESENTATIONS BY DOCTORAL RESEARCHERS OF THE NEW MEMBER CONSORTIA
- Love, class and gender: An empirical investigation of non-middle-class couples (Stella Rehbein for the the new member Consortium “Resonant Self-World Relations in Ancient and Modern Socio-Religious Practices”)
- Environmental Change and Evolutionary Adaptation (Angelika Ziegelbecker for the new member Consortium “Ecology and Evolution in Changing Environments”)
- Smart Contracts in the context of M2M Communication (Peter Egger for the new member Consortium “Synergies in Business Law”)
- Nanoscience on an Atomic Level (Michael Hollerer for the new member Consortium “Functional Nanostructures in Physics, Chemistry and Life Sciences”)
CAREER TALKS BY DOCTORAL ALUMNI OF MEMBER CONSORTIA
Sebastian Kronenberger (Leibniz University Hannover): Alumni “Accounting, Reporting, and Taxation”
Katharina Schroeer (Federal Office of Meteorology and Climatology MeteoSwiss, Zurich, Switzerland): Alumni “Climate Change”
Mario Schröck (Amplitude Capital, Zug, Switzerland): Alumni “Hadrons in Vacuum, Nuclei and Stars”
Bao Quoc Tang (University of Graz) Alumni “Optimization and Numerical Analysis for Partial Differential Equations with Nonsmooth Structures”
PUBLIC LECTURE: Networking for Academics: 5 Places to Start (Linda Greve, Aarhus University)
Getting a Digital Life: Academic Self-Presentation Online (2017)
First Doctoral Academy Day - cutting-edge research by doctoral students
At the first Doctoral Academy Day on November 10, 2017, PhD students from the Doctoral Academy Graz member consortia presented selected aspects of their research work. The contributions, ranging from climate to cancer research, impressively documented the contributions made by young researchers at the University of Graz to socially highly relevant and internationally connectable research.
In his speech, Peter Scherrer, Vice Rector for the Promotion of Young Researchers and Director of the Doctoral Academy Graz, emphasized the special function of the Doctoral Academy for the visibility of research conducted at the University of Graz. The Doctoral Academy is an essential instrument to further increase the attractiveness of the University of Graz for highly qualified international doctoral students and to establish inter-university research networks.
The Doctoral Academy Day was concluded with the Public Lecture "Getting a Digital Life: Academic Self-Presentation Online". Organized in cooperation with American Studies Graz, the lecture by Sidonie Smith (University of Michigan) and Julia Watson (Ohio State University) undertook an exciting analysis of various aspects of self-presentation on the World Wide Web for all those interested in questions of digital life writing.
PRESENTATIONS BY DOCTORAL CANDIDATES OF THE MEMBER CONSORTIA
- Corporate Tax Managers and the Interplay between Tax Avoidance and Tax Compliance, Peter Krenn (Accounting, Reporting and Taxation)
- Heavy Rainfall hits steep Mountain Rivers: Analysis of hazardous sediment fluxes in small alpine watersheds, Silke Lutzmann (Climate Change - Uncertainties, Thresholds and Coping Strategies I)
- Spring frost risk for regional fruit production under a warmer climate, Christian Unterberger (Climate Change - Uncertainties, Thresholds and Coping Strategies II)
- Discrete Mathematics: the Art of the Absolute, Jordan McMahon (Discrete Mathematics)
- What the Higgs really is (and what this means for its potential siblings), Pascal Törek (Hadrons in Vacuum, Nuclei and Stars
- Adipose Tissue Plasticity, Pia Benedikt (Molecular Enzymology)
- Material Design for Optimal Excitation Induced Charge Transfer in Photovoltaic Devices, Michael Kniely (Optimization and Numerical Analysis for Partial Differential Equations with Nonsmooth Structures)
- Grasping urban language – towards a multidimensional approach in modern sociolinguistics, Kristina Herbert (Variationist Linguistics and Sociolinguistics - German in Motion)