Z03: Integrated Research Training Group

The Integrated Research Training Group (IRTG) is a structured PhD programme that aims to train 30 PhD students within the framework of the proposed CRC. In line with the overall topic of this CRC, the focus of the IRTG will be on applying concepts of polymer science in biological systems and how cellular function is governed by these concepts, integrating views from both the polymer sciences and the life sciences. Through an interdisciplinary curriculum and CRC-specific networking events, PhD students with a biology background will be exposed to polymer physics and chemistry and, vice versa, chemists and physicists will be immersed in the life sciences. This will foster the exchange of knowledge, approaches and tools between students from different disciplines, and a better understanding of each other’s language and thinking.

The following measures will ensure state-of-the art training and expert supervision of the participating PhD researchers: first, students will be guided by a thesis advisory committee (TAC) composed of members from both life and polymer science disciplines. These will regularly meet with each student to give independent feedback and advice on the project and the student’s progress. Second, the programme will provide broad, interdisciplinary training—on the one hand in scientific topics related to bio(macromolecules) and key methods and technologies, and on the other in transferrable skills that are essential for a successful career in academia, industry and elsewhere. Third, the programme will offer ample opportunities for scientific exchange, networking and communication; examples of such opportunities include seminars organized through the CRC, which will bring leading scientists from the biopolymers fields to Mainz, annual CRC retreats and conference visits. Fourth, students will have the opportunity to acquire outside expertise by visiting external laboratories or methods-focused courses. Finally, a mentoring programme and career-related events, such as alumni talks and workshops on applying for jobs, will prepare students for diverse careers in both the academic and non-academic worlds. Together, the programme will provide comprehensive training, foster the students’ scientific independence and increase their chances of success both within the CRC and beyond in the job market. The IRTG will train a new generation of blue-sky thinking scientists to work at the interface of the polymer and life sciences.

Topics covered in the CRC Summer School “Polymer Concepts in Cellular Function” (compulsory for all IRTG students). The lectures and seminars will cover polymer concepts across length scales ranging from molecular polymer theory to soft matter, biomolecular mechanisms to cell/organismal biology.

Dorothee Dormann

Faculty of Biology, JGU

Mischa Bonn

Max Planck Institute for Polymer Research

Molecular Spectroscopy

Ralf Dahm

Institute of Molecular Biology