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A Student's Perspective

Kathrin Hüging – Class of 2009

Topic: Identification of host factors limiting HCV replication and assembly in non-human and non-liver cells

Research Group: Prof. Dr. Thomas Pietschmann, Department of Experimental Virology, TWINCORE

I am now in my third year of the PhD Program “Infection Biology” at Hannover Medical School. So far, I can say that taking part in the PhD Program has been worth it and I believe that this is an excellent way to obtain a PhD.

During my PhD, I am not a lone pipette warrior, but rather I get the chance to meet people from different parts of the world during the weekly lectures and seminars, other retreats and social events like the annual HBRS Christmas party. This gives me the opportunity to make lots of new friends which might eventually turn into helpful contacts later in my scientific career.

By attending seminars, tutorials, workshops and lab courses, I get the chance to broaden my theoretical and practical knowledge beyond my own area of research to topics tackled by my fellow students and by the different institutes in Hannover and Braunschweig that take part in the program. As every student has a different research topic and therefore also another area of expertise, the discussion and exchange of ideas and practical skills can be extremely helpful for problem-solving for ones own project.

Furthermore, the PhD Program offers numerous opportunities to practically apply scientific thinking and communication and to improve presentations skills. These newly acquired abilities can then be put to test as the program also offers travelling grants to attent international conferences or to allow short time stays in other labs.

Put together, the international environment and the interdisciplinary working atmosphere of the PhD program offer many opportunities for fruitful discussions and debates about science and provide a good basis for a career in the international scientific community.

Fiordiligie Casilag, Class of 2010

Topic: Immune Evasion in the initial phase of Pseudomonas aeruginosa biofilm development

Research Group: Prof. Dr. Susanne Häußler, Department for Pathophysiology of Bacterial Biofilms, TWINCORE

Having previously worked in a different field of biology, I had imagined it would be quite a challenge to move into medical research. One great thing about being in the program that helped me with the transition though, is that they had given us students the opportunity to learn many different interdisciplinary subjects in the field. In attending lectures, seminars, lab courses and workshops, were able to learn new things, share and discuss scientific insights, and it also kept us up to date with the most recent developments in our field of study.
Coming to Germany for the first time, I can honestly say that being in the program not only opened up a world of opportunities in the academic sense, but outside of the academia as well. I was able to meet and make friends with a lot of great people from all over the world, and this has truly helped me feel at home in a foreign country. The HBRS also offers a lot of support for foreign students including a language course and intracultural workshops which also helped in getting accustomed to living in Germany.
At the moment, I am already in my second year of study in the DEWIN program of the HBRS, and so far, the experience has been pretty great. Being surrounded by brilliant colleagues, learning from the experts, and being immersed in a very active scientific community has somehow made pursuing a PhD less daunting, if not even exciting. I look forward to the next years knowing that there will be more chances of doing greater things in the future.

Johannes Schwerk, Class of 2010

Topic: Identification of Interferon target cells and their time-resolved induction by viral infection

Research Group: Dr. Hansjörg Hauser, Department of Gene Regulation and Differentiation, HZI, Braunschweig

Summing up my experiences of being part of the structured PhD program “DEWIN” of the HBRS for more than one year now, I can say that it was the right decision for me. The HBRS offers an excellent environment for young scientists and studying together with people from all over the world really is a great experience.
The weekly lectures and seminars give me the opportunity not only to swap ideas on our projects, but also to have a nice chat with my classmates. Since everybody of us is working on a different topic, the regular exchange between us helps me to broaden my “scientific mind”.
Besides, lab-courses and workshops, which are organized by the HBRS, ideally complement the theoretical knowledge that is taught. Especially the annual Summer Schools, which give the opportunity to meet and talk to established senior scientists, and also to present them your own work, is of great value to me. Because establishing scientific contacts early in the career might turn out fruitful later on.
Before I joined the HBRS and started my PhD, I had doubts whether this “little more” of work and obligations that a structured graduate school brings along (as compared to a regular PhD) is worth it. But these doubts did not persist long, since I still have time to pursue my hobbies.
All in all, I am very happy about having the chance to do my PhD within the challenging but exciting framework of the HBRS and I look forward to the next two years of my PhD.