Max Planck Plant Science PhD researchers connect

June 03, 2024

From May 22nd to 24th, a delegation of 15 doctoral researchers from the Potsdam-Golm Max Planck Institute of Molecular Plant Physiology (MPIMP) visited the Max Planck Institute for Plant Breeding Research (MPIPZ) in Cologne. This was the first inter-MPI event connecting PhD students from the two plant institutes, initiated by the PhD representatives of both institutes.

The MPIPZ and MPIMP PhD programmes supported the action. To quote our IMPRS coordinators: “We are pleased that the PhD representatives from our institutes have initiated efforts to enhance networking among junior researchers at MPIPZ and MPIMP, the Max Planck Society's plant science institutes. This is a timely and valuable step, and we hope this year's pilot meeting will become a regular event, fostering reciprocal visits and collaboration between our junior scientists.”

The MPIMP delegation first joined the celebration of the “International Day for Biological Diversity” at the University of Cologne Biocenter organised by trr_341 on May 22nd. A scientific symposium was held on the following days, with a mix of talks and posters from PhD students of both institutes to share and discuss their research with their fellow plant scientists. Some of the MPIMP students even had the chance to talk to some of the MPIPZ group leaders in smaller groups for more in-depth discussions during the two days of their visit. The MPIMP delegation also got a glimpse of the scientific support they could find at the MPIPZ: representatives of three local service facilities, the Central Microscopy Unit (CeMic), the Protein Mass Spectrometry Service Group and the Max Planck-Genome-centre Cologne (MP-GC), presented their expertise and cutting-edge technologies during the symposium. A tour of the MPIPZ campus and greenhouse facilities rounded up the programme for the guests from MPIMP.

The rich scientific exchanges during the symposium were complemented by ample opportunities for informal networking among peers during coffee breaks and an evening in the MPIPZ’s TATA-bar. The spirit of the meeting is best summed up in these impressions from participants:

Our visit to the MPIPZ was a one of a kind visit to another Max Planck Institute. The event, organized by and for PhD students, provided an excellent platform to exhibit my research and widen my professional network. I enjoyed the fruitful discussions with the MPIPZ scientists and learning about their research. The insights that we got about the service groups at MPIPZ was an added advantage. (MPIMP participant)

The PhD exchange event was an unprecedented opportunity here at the MPIPZ to get to know the PhD students from the MPIMP and to share feedback and ideas about our science and our personal PhD journey, in a positive environment. Besides, it was a unique chance to start having an overview of the research topics pursued at the MPIMP, for possible collaborations and future positions. I came out of this event with a lot of great insights to implement in our projects, and I think it is definitely an event to be continued over the years to establish a nice and reciprocally fruitful tradition! (MPIPZ participant). 

The international plant science community is quite small, and to have two plant science institutes within the same research organisation is extraordinary in itself. It should be celebrated with communication and exchange on all academic levels. It was great to meet other PhDs who are having the same triumphs and tribulations, and to get exposure to other research topics within the Max Planck plant science community. A big thanks to all those involved! (MPIMP participant)

Our recent PhD student exchange between the MPIPZ and the MPIMP was a remarkable experience. The camaraderie and good vibes among all students were palpable, and I gained invaluable insights from their cutting-edge research. This collaboration has truly enriched our scientific community. (MPIPZ participant)

Overall, this was a very successful first event for Max Planck plant science doctoral researchers to connect. We all hope to see regular “re-runs” of this networking event in the future.

Sophie-Asako Xerri, MPIPZ / Ina Talke, MPIMP

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