ORIGINS PhD Days 2024 – Under the sign of Complexity

Just like in the past, the PhD students of the ORIGINS excellence cluster gathered for the much-anticipated PhD Days. This year, the three-day workshop was held in the charming “Seminarhaus Grainau,” providing a cozy backdrop for the 32 young scientists to engage in lively discussions about their research in a relaxed and friendly atmosphere.

Hike around the Eibsee. Image: Bahaa Ilyas

Besides the usual interesting talks, inspiring discussions, and lots of fun, this time, we had a stimulating evening program hosted by ORIGINS speaker Andreas Burkert about complexity and emergence. Motivated by this highlight talk by Professor Burkert about anthills, galaxies, and pedestrians, the rest of the PhD Days were held under the sign of complexity. This topic became the central subject of discussion for the students.

Early career scientists not only had the opportunity to present their research in front of a broad audience but also received valuable feedback from their peers. The diverse scientific talks from the more than five research fields represented in the ORIGINS cluster of excellence showed the young scientists that the fundamental questions often overlap considerably despite the significant differences between their various fields of study. This made it very clear that interdisciplinary discourse is not just possible but also beneficial. Thanks to the hierarchy-free and cozy atmosphere, the PhD students were able to help each other with constructive consultations. 

Like in previous years, there were several activities besides the scientific program. The small excursion – a hike around the breathtakingly stunning Eibsee – was a hit despite the constant, intense rain. In the evenings, the students got together in the hobby room of the Seminarhaus to socialize and play cards, table tennis, and foosball.  

The “Breakout Sessions“ introduced in the previous year were also successful. In this format, the participants are encouraged to break out into small groups, discuss either an overarching scientific question or a topic that concerns life within the excellence cluster, and devise approaches to address them. The results of these sessions, this time about complexity, mental health, and the interdisciplinary journal club, were then presented in a plenary session. As in the previous year, these conversations led to student-led initiatives, in which the PhD students are organizing themselves within the excellence cluster.  

Undoubtedly, the ORIGINS PhD Days 2024 were a resounding success. As one participant aptly put it, 'It’s great to be a part of this anthill!' This sentiment echoes the overall positive experience and the successful outcomes of the event.