With in-person meetings having been stalled due to the pandemic, the CRC retreat was a welcomed change of air for us 22 PhD students who joined the retreat. It was also the first scientific meeting that was held in-person for those who started their PhD after 2019. At the same time, the retreat was the first opportunity to put faces to the Zoom thumbnails known from the online meetings. We had the opportunity to present our projects during the two poster sessions – a convenient way to engage in discussions and get new input from other members as well as to establish a basis for future collaborations within the CRC.
“During the retreat, I got positive feedback on my research. Furthermore, some PIs proposed to initiate joint projects with my project B06”, says Hormoz Noormohammadian, who works on understanding how IgA secretion is regulated in the gut-liver axis for his PhD. For the newer PhD students, the poster sessions provided a comprehensive picture of the work within the consortium.
Between the intense poster sessions and discussions, a human table soccer tournament showed that the CRC members are not only science heads but equally motivated athletes – a nice opportunity to get to know each other on a more personal level. Moreover, a quiz was held for us students. Exciting sweets were up for grabs! The next day, we gained an overview of the seminars, lab rotations and courses offered within the Biomedical Graduate School.
Another very practical initiative within the CRC has been to introduce an electronic lab journal. Lukas Bossert, who has been heading this, has made it possible for us to test out a trial version and provide meaningful feedback. This is a great initiative to store data in a modern, paperless format that can be conveniently stored, accessed, and shared across groups. Next, young investigators who are part of the Rising Star project presented their research outlines: These projects showcased us how such seed funds could be a great kick-starter for long-term projects and also what kind of projects might be possible after completing the PhD.
The retreat ended with an intense discussion on the progress of the CRC – although we as PhD students were not directly addressed by these questions, it was exciting to see how the scope of the questions asked within a big research consortium is set. This two-day retreat at Kloster Steinfeld was packed with science, learning, engagement, and most importantly fun.
Eva-Lena Stange and Sraddha Bharadwaj, on behalf of CRC1382 PhD students