Over 50 researchers gather for the CRC 1411 Kick-off Meeting

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Photo: Robin Klupp Taylor

The CRC 1411 Kick-Off meeting took place in the idyllic surroundings of the Fraunhofer Foschungscampus in Waischenfeld from 9-10 March 2020. The over 50 attendees included the CRC 1411 PIs, the External Advisory Board, postdocs, and current and future doctoral researchers. With the meeting almost overshadowed by the gathering storm-clouds of the COVID-19 crisis, most participants will probably look back on it as their last “normal” scientific gathering for a long time! However, in a foretaste of the “digital leap” that we would all soon make, two future doctoral researchers who were already stranded in their home countries joined the plenary sessions via video-link.

The meeting started with presentations of the whole initiative and of the individual subprojects. Following this, the PIs met with the External Advisory Board in order to discuss the CRC 1411 research and dissemination strategy and to receive valuable input from the viewpoint of industry and academia. At the same time, the iRTG-ParSciTech members took part in a seminar on Good Scientific Practice given by Dr Christian Schmitt-Engel of the FAU Graduate Centre. After dining, the attendees were treated to an entertaining series of “flash talks” by the iRTG members. The purpose here was get to know the young researchers who would, for the next years, be tasked with putting so much of the CRC 1411 vision into action. With just 4 minutes and 3 slides each, the iRTG members came up with highly imaginative and often amusing ways to introduce themselves and their scientific backgrounds and goals.

The morning of the second day was devoted to the three CRC 1411 Working Groups and the INF project. The former are devoted to interdisciplinary challenges which are common to many of the CRC 1411 projects: Scale up, Particle-Surface interactions and Parameter estimation. The INF project aims to establish a framework for the storage, sharing and processing of experimental and theoretical data in the consortium. To breathe life into these topics, ideas, challenges and methods were collected and discussion in a World Café format. Here, the participants, in constantly varying groups rotated around the four stations. At each station the discussion leaders (Andreas Bück, Alexandra Inayat and Lukas Pflug for the Working Groups and Fabian Englisch for INF) presented the theme and an overview of the discourse so far. Then participants were then able to present their experience and ideas. The results of the World Café were presented in the afternoon plenary session. Prior to that, the whole consortium attended an illuminating and valuable seminar on equal opportunities in research and teaching given by Dr Susanne Frölich-Steffen. This addressed in particular issues of gender bias in recruitment and helped underline the CRC 1411 resolve to contribute proactively to the further improvement of gender balance at the participating institutions.