The first GRK 2381 Autumn School (Tübingen, October 10th to 13th, 2022)

The second cohort of doctoral students of the GRK 2381 organised the first GRK 2381 Autumn School between 10.10.2022 and 13.10.2022 in Tübingen. It combined two stimulating workshops (Visual Science Communication, Communication), a collaborative Team Building workshop, three talks on topics relevant for doctoral students (Surviving the Stress of a PhD, Becoming a Better Academic Writer, The Final Year), an informative statistics course, a festive dinner and an enlightening excursion to CureVac, a neighbouring biopharmaceutical company. The Autumn School was attended by the doctoral students of both cohorts of the GRK 2381 as well as doctoral students associated with the GRK 2381. The Dinner and the Communication Workshop were also joined by PIs of the GRK 2381. The talks on topics relevant for doctoral students were open for all doctoral students of the science faculty at the University of Tübingen.

The Autumn School began with an exciting, practice-oriented workshop on Visual Science Communication lead by Michael Pelzer from the Department of General Rhetoric at the University of Tübingen. The doctoral students had the opportunity to learn about the importance of visual science communication and fundamental steps for a successful, effective and sophisticated graphical visualization of complex scientific concepts.

During the workshop sketches were drawn by the doctoral students depicting their own scientific projects. This enabled them to tackle first steps towards creating individual visualization projects and discuss creative techniques, design strategies and tools that can help to generate effective graphical illustrations of scientific content, data and ideas.

Beyond the Autumn School Michael Pelzer offered an online follow up appointment to discuss graphical illustrations created by the doctoral students and provided extremely valuable feedback.

The communication skills of the doctoral students were practically challenged later that day during a Team Building Workshop at the Waldseilgarten Herrenberg where they had to complete several tasks which were impossible to complete without teamwork, strategy, planning and effective communication. As the doctoral students belong to different projects of the GRK 2381 and come from diverse cultural and scientific backgrounds, these team building exercises helped to strengthen the bond between the participants.

Analogous to the seemingly insurmountable challenges of completing a doctoral thesis the climbing parkour enabled many participants to push their limits. The climbing exercises strengthened the confidence that determination, motivation and teamwork can certainly lead to overcoming any challenge.

The next day started with a series of three talks and subsequent Q&A sessions held by James Hayton on different topics relevant for doctoral students: Surviving the Stress of a PhD, Becoming a Better Academic Writer and The Final Year. These talks were open for all doctoral students of the science faculty at the University of Tübingen and more than 40 participants from different departments joined.

Statistics is extremely relevant and important in science and for the analysis of scientific data. However, statistics are often used wrongly. To strengthen our expertise in this field we included an introductory Statistics Course. This highly informative and useful course was held online by Johannes Rheinlaender from the BioForce Group at the University of Tübingen.

In the evening contents of the Autumn School, cGMP and other topics were discussed during a Dinner at the Tübinger Wurstküche. The discussions between doctoral students and PIs also enabled the formation of ideas for new collaborations within the GRK 2381.

On the next day an Excursion to CureVac, a neighbouring biopharmaceutical company, took place. The participants were warmly welcomed and an introduction to the company was given by a senior member of the HR team and a senior scientist. Afterwards a tour was given to the construction site of a new large-scale manufacturing facility and a highly informative Q&A session was held.

On the last day of the Autumn School a highly interactive Communication Workshop took place. It was held by Alexander Britz and doctoral researchers as well as PIs of the GRK 2381 participated. The discussions about communication and practical role plays that took place during this workshop will surely help to improve the communication within the GRK 2381.

Thanks to the GRK 2381 and everybody involved for making this Autumn School possible - especially to all workshop leaders, speakers and participants!

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