3rd MAINZ Student Seminar

St. John's College, Cambridge (UK)

August 9th-12th 2012

The 3rd MAINZ student seminar was held in the beautiful city of Cambridge, UK, from the 9th until the 12th of August 2012. Early in the morning the55 participants started the trip to England and arrived at St. John’s College on time. The accommodation delivered insights into the college atmosphere and showed how the Cambridge students live. The international atmosphere and the olympic spirit was noticeable at all times.

On the day of arrival, two of the invited speakers gave their presentation followed by a session in which new MAINZ PhD students presented their research and planned PhD projects. The second day started with an alumni talk of a former PhD student of MAINZ, followed by seperate sessions for the students. Besides daytime activities, the evenings were used for social activities and to explore thecity’s night life.

St. John's College, Cambridge.


1. Lectures of Invited Speakers and MAINZ Alumni

For the first time, external speakers were invited to present their research at the MAINZ student seminar. Three materials researchers of the University of Cambridge gave interesting talks about their current research projects and discussed with the MAINZ students about various topics in materials science. Invited Speakers included: Prof. Tony Cheetham (Goldsmiths’ Professor on Material Science, topic: “Structure‐Property Relationships in Inorganic‐Organic Framework Materials”), Dr. Daniel Cole (Research Associate, Group of Prof. Payne, topic: “Quantum and Classical Biomolecular Simulation”) and Dr. Bortollo M. Mognetti (currently Postdoc in the Group of Prof. Frenkel and former Postdoc of Prof. Binder in Mainz, topic: “Modelling DNA coated colloids with competing interactions”). Moreover, Dr. Frederik Wurm (MAINZ alumni since 2009, currently junior group leader at JGU and the Max‐Planck‐Institute for Polymer Research in Mainz) gave a lecture entitled “A Career in Science as a Young Researcher?”. He described how he profited from being a member of MAINZ during his PhD studies and gave personal insights into his experiences regarding his academic career so far. In an interesting discussion, he spoke with the MAINZ students about the challenges and benefits of a career in academia.

Prof. Tony Cheetham during his lecture in Cambridge.


2. Presentations of MAINZ students

The students presentations were divided into different sessions. The first one gave new MAINZ students the possibility to introduce them and to present general ideas on their PhD projects to the whole group. The other sessions were split, into more synthetic projects and rather physical projects, but presentations were open to everyone. Discussions gave valuable input for each PhD student and helped us to exchange ideas. On Sunday, a seminar on “Good Scientific Practices” was held by Mark Bajohrs and Simone Jäger, which gave important insight into this topic. Group work, and discussions helped to sensitize the graduate students for this issue. All in all, the student seminar in Cambridge provided a platform to meet up with students from many different research areas and helped to increase the interchange of ideas within the MAINZ PhD community.

Audience during the lectures of MAINZ students.


3. Social Activities

Besides the scientific program, group activities promoted communication and team spirit of the graduate schools students significantly. On Friday, a city tour with focus on scientific history of Cambridge was valuable to understand this special city and its university and colleges. Highlights included for example the visit of the Pub “The Eagle”, where Watson and Crick communicated their discovery of the structure of DNA for the first time. Moreover, during a punting tour with treasure hunt, MAINZ students discovered Cambridge in a “Punt” (a special boat in Cambridge) and by foot, solving interesting questions about the city. This day ended with a delicious bbq at “The Granta” pub.

Preparing for the punting trip.


Mainz, August 15th 2012

Christoph Schüll and Sophie Müller
(Student Representatives of the Graduate School MAINZ 2012)