7th Annual Meeting of the Leibniz PostDoc Network

This is a guest post by our newly elected spokespersons Dr. Mine Altinli (BNITM) and Dr. Peter Arrabiyeh (IVW).

The 7th Annual Meeting of the Leibniz Postdoc Network, held on the 16th and 17th of November, was a vibrant exploration of key issues and initiatives. Even if you could not attend, we hope you will catch up with what happened through this summary of our Annual Meeting!

Our spokesperson, Dr. Marta Ferreira-Gomes (DRFZ), welcomed us and set the tone with a concise introduction, followed by a warm welcome from Dr. Marvin Bähr of the Leibniz Head office. Dr. Bähr introduced the Leibniz Association, its organization and values for newcomers.

The event commenced with updates from the Network’s working groups, laying the groundwork for the in-depth discussions of the following two days. Leibniz PostDoc Network comprises several working groups that tackle networking, mental health, working conditions, career development and diversity. The goals of these groups are discussed at our annual assembly, and the groups are restructured whenever necessary based on the community’s interests. Ultimately, volunteering PostDocs in these groups work to offer all PostDocs working at Leibniz-Institutes services in the form of webinars, workshops and networking meetings, as well as blog posts to foster communication. All the working groups’ communication channels like our emailing list are also supported by volunteer PostDocs in the Network Growth and Outreach working group.

In addition to the working groups, elected spokespeople represent PostDoc interests in different events (here are some examples of last year’s events). Dr. Mine Altinli (BNITM), co-spokesperson, presented the summary of such an event where she represented the Leibniz PostDoc Network.  Her presentation focused on the common systemic challenges that PostDocs face when their work is evaluated for grant applications, hiring processes and tenure. Participants then immersed themselves in smaller group discussions, delving into the ongoing evaluation process of a PostDoc’s work that would lead to a permanent academic job. This focused exploration aimed to assess the current status quo, pinpoint areas for improvement, and shed light on often overlooked aspects when evaluating PostDoc contributions. The outcomes and recommendations from the small discussion groups were then shared with the wider assembly, providing invaluable insights into the shared challenges of PostDocs in the current scientific evaluation system, especially in German academia.

Following these discussions, Dr. Bettina Böhm (Secretary General, Leibniz Association) addressed the Leibniz PostDocs focusing on Wissenschaftszeitvertragsgesetz (WissZeitVG) and our joint statement with other PostDoc networks. She highlighted once more that the Leibniz Association and Institutes have a discussion culture, and it is essential that the PostDoc voices are heard in these discussions. She also voiced her appreciation of the active engagement of the Leibniz PostDoc Network, recognising its commitment to addressing critical issues such as working conditions, diversity, and inclusion in the scientific community.  The first day concluded with a call to join the Leibniz Postdoc Network’s working groups and a call for a new spokesperson, as Dr. Marta Ferreira-Gomes (DRFZ) decided to step down.

The second day started with a comprehensive recap by Dr. Marta Ferreira-Gomes (DRFZ) and a talk by Susanne Auls (Spokesperson for the Coordination Group of Staff and Workers Councils of the Leibniz Association) introducing the important work of the coordination group. Her presentation also touched upon the #IchBinHanna campaign and addressed issues related to the WissZeitVG.

In his engaging webinar, PD Dr. rer. nat. Daniel Mertens (DKFZ) shared insights on “How to become a Professor.” Dr. Mertens emphasised the importance of networking and recommended leveraging AI programs like ChatGPT and Perplexity for strategic advantages in communications.

The meeting wrapped up with breakout sessions led by different working groups, providing a platform for participants to actively contribute to discussions, shaping the initiatives for the coming year. If you missed the meeting, but are interested in joining the working groups, here you can see the list of the working groups and new coordinators. You can contact the listed working group coordinators for more information and to join! We are open to new members at all times for any group, but we are especially looking for computer-savvy people to help maintain the communication infrastructure of the Leibniz PostDoc-Network (webpage, emailing list) with the Network Growth and Outreach Working group.

The meeting ended with the spokesperson and financial officer elections. The spokesperson election saw Dr. Mine Altinli (BNITM) retaining her position for another term while Dr.-Ing. Peter Amer Arrabiyeh (IVW) succeeded Dr. Marta Ferreira-Gomes (DRFZ). Elections for the financial officer welcomed a new member Dr. Malgorzata Kogut-Günthel (LSB), into the LPN steering committee.

We thank the LPN steering committee, alumni, and the Leibniz postdoc community for their contributions. Excitement abounds as we look forward to collaborative efforts with the steering committee, working group members, and the Leibniz Head Office to represent postdocs and improve working conditions for all!

All the best from the newly elected LPN Spokespersons, Mine and Peter

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