TRAINING FOR TOP RESEARCHERS

DESY generates scientific insights and ideas for innovations. Just as important is its role as a nursery of young talents. DESY trains young people to be highly qualified, top-level scientists. Here, students and doctoral candidates learn how to develop their scientific creativity, juggle complex data and work in international and interdisciplinary teams. DESY graduates are coveted employees, not only in research institutes but also in business. This success is based on DESY’s close networking with universities. DESY has particularly close connections with the University of Hamburg. PIER, a strategic partnership between the two institutions that was founded in 2011, offers ambitious young talents top-level graduate training.

DESY also provides a variety of possibilities for starting careers in commercial-technical and business management professions. Young people can receive training in Hamburg and Zeuthen for future-oriented vocations such as industrial engineering, IT or technical product design. Schoolchildren can learn about science in the DESY school lab “physik.begreifen”. Here, children nine or ten years of age on can make balloons or chocolate-coated marshmallows explode in a vacuum under a bell jar. Students from secondary schools can investigate whether certain salts are radioactive and how to shield the radiation. In the “Cosmic Lab”, pupils in college preparatory classes can learn more about cosmic particles. The strong interest shows that this concept of teaching physics is effective: year after year, the school labs in Hamburg and Zeuthen are fully booked, with waiting lists.

 

PIER promotes young talents

DESY and the University of Hamburg offer outstanding prospects for talented young researchers  

The close cooperation between DESY and the University of Hamburg has a long history. In 2011, this cooperation was intensified through the creation of a strategic partnership – the Partnership for Innovation, Education and Research PIER. PIER focuses on four ground-breaking areas of research: particle and astroparticle physics, nanosciences, photon science, and infection and structural biology. A central office coordinates the activities. It helps scientists to implement new ideas in research projects without bureaucratic obstacles. Tools such as the PIER ideas fund and workshops help to promote a dialogue with business and society.  

 

 

Special emphasis is placed on the training of up-and-coming young scientists. In particular, the PIER Helmholtz Graduate School supports young researchers who are writing doctoral theses in these four research fields. A network of top researchers provides the doctoral students with support. With the help of the Helmholtz Association, PIER promotes regular stays at research institutions abroad and helps the doctoral students to build up networks with potential employers in industry and science. Outstanding candidates can apply for fellowships from the Joachim Herz Foundation.

Associated with the PIER graduate programme is DoIt, an initiative formed by the doctoral students at DESY. In 2006, they joined together to help newcomers orient themselves and create an active alumni network. DoIt regularly invites former DESY doctoral students to report on their current activities and thus give its members crucial support as they choose their future professions.

 

A promising career launch

DESY doctoral student Marc Wenskat is developing special software. The program automatically analyses the photographs taken by a camera that monitors the inside of accelerator elements. This technology is useful for quality control, because even the smallest impurities or uneven spots can prevent the superconducting component from performing at its best. “What’s special about DESY is the incredible level of interdisciplinary cooperation,” Wenskat says. “Here, you’ve experts from a huge range of areas – biologists, medical researchers, physicists and IT specialists.”

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A promising career launch

DESY doctoral student Dörthe Kennedy is looking for previously undiscovered particles in the data of the LHC accelerator. For this purpose, she travels regularly to the European research centre CERN in Geneva. “There, I sit in the control room and help to monitor the experiments at the ATLAS detector,” she says. Because the facility operates around the clock, she sometimes has to do a night shift. “It’s exciting to work in the control room,” Kennedy says. “You realize that data are being collected this very minute – and exactly this data might ultimately reveal something new and exciting!”

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A promising career launch

Stefan Pabst, a doctoral student at CFEL, is working in the field of theoretical physics. He calculates how atoms behave when they are irradiated with intense ultrashort laser flashes. “Here at DESY, the research facilities I can use to test my theories are right next to my office door,” he says. Just as direct is his connection with the experimental physicists who are analysing their samples using the X-ray flashes from PETRA III or FLASH, or will be doing so using the European XFEL in the future.

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A promising career launch

Particle physicist Isabell Melzer-Pellmann has been leading a Helmholtz Young Investigators Group at DESY since 2010. At the LHC in Geneva, she is looking for particles that could explain the mysterious dark matter. “The Young Investigators Group is enabling me to build up my own research project with my own team,” she says. “I can decide independently what areas we’re going to work on.” The project will run for five years. During this time, Melzer-Pellmann will receive 1.5 million euro in research funding. Half of this amount will come from DESY, the other half from the Helmholtz Association.

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What became of them...

Edith Maurer works for the German Aerospace Center DLR in Oberpfaffenhofen. She supervises the operation of two radar satellites for observing the Earth. During her doctoral work at Technische Universität München, Maurer was a regular guest at DESY, where she examined polymers – plastic molecules – using X-rays. “One of the things I learned at DESY was how to approach working on a scientific project. Carrying out an X-ray experiment is quite similar to working in a space flight control room right after a satellite is launched. In both cases, the project has to be constantly monitored, everything must be well organized and the teamwork has to be perfect.”

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What became of them...

Linus Lindfeld is a patent lawyer at Airbus in Hamburg. During his doctoral work at DESY, he searched for hypothetical elementary particles called “leptoquarks” in the data of the H1 detector at the HERA accelerator. After his time at DESY, he spent three additional years training to be a patent lawyer at a law firm. Now Lindfeld works for Airbus, where his job includes applying for patents for the company’s new inventions. “The analytical approach to problem-solving that is required in particle physics has helped me a lot. Especially valuable for my current job is the ability to filter a large amount of data and pull out what’s truly important in the shortest possible time. DESY gave me an intensive education in that.”

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What became of them...

During her doctoral work at DESY, Nanda Schmidt-Petersen developed a prototype for a new particle detector for future linear accelerators. Now she is doing additional training at a clinic in Stade to become a medical physics expert. “Not only particle physicists but also doctors use accelerators – even though medical accelerators are a lot smaller. With these devices tumours can be effectively irradiated. During my doctoral work at DESY, I learned the essential tools of the trade for my job. The field of application is different, but the basic concepts are the same. And now I can use them in a concrete situation.”

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A promising career launch

Young researchers at DESY

DESY offers excellent starting conditions and career opportunities in various professions. Hundreds of young researchers are pursuing their first scientific research projects at DESY – where they find a highly international and interdisciplinary setting. After their doctoral studies, DESY graduates have excellent opportunities in the job market.

 

“PIER is intended as the central starting point for excellent science in the north of Germany. PIER will give the students at the University of Hamburg the opportunity to pursue their research work in a unique technological environment.”

Prof. Dieter Lenzen, President of the University of Hamburg

“The training of highly qualified top personnel for science and technology in Germany is one of our most important goals. Next-generation researchers bring new impetus and new ideas to the research process. Young colleagues learn from us and we learn from them.”

Prof. Helmut Dosch, Chairman of the DESY Board of Directors

“In the DESY school lab ‘physik.begreifen’ (‘grasping physics’), we show schoolchildren and young people how lively and exciting research can be. They carry out experiments themselves, and in that way they ‘get a grasp’ of physical relationships – in both meanings of the word.”

Karen Ong, Head of the DESY School Lab

“We offer diverse and challenging tasks in an international environment. We are looking for enthusiastic employees particularly in the areas of physics, electrical engineering, computer science and mechanical engineering.”

Jochen Barnstedt, Head of DESY Recruitment