“Learn something and have a good time!”

Students of the institute invite employees and alumni to “StuCon 2023”

October 13, 2023

PhD students of the institute have organized their own conference. They told us what this will be about. 

There are many conferences, symposia and lectures at a scientific institution like the Max-Planck-Institut für Kohlenforschung. But "StuCon Kofo 2023", the Student Conference, is different. It is the first conference in the institute's more than one hundred-year history to be planned and hosted completely by students. The core team behind the conference consists of Beatrice Lansbergen, Eduardo de Pedro Beato, Rakan Saeb, Jennifer Kuziola, Ana Mateos Calbet, Davy Lin, Matthias Peeters, Tolga Ulucan and Marian Guillén. We spoke to some of them in advance about this special conference.

"The idea came to me during the recent review by our scientific advisory board," says Beatrice Lansbergen, who is currently doing her PhD in Prof. Tobias Ritter's department. The advisory board’s external view on the institute's operations had revealed a feeling within the students that too little was known about the other departments.

"A conference," says Beatrice Lansbergen, "where we talk about our research, can be a great help to connect better within the institute." In addition, she said, many students rarely have the opportunity to present their research to an audience - and this will be possible at "StuCon".

For Matthias Peeters, doctoral student of Prof. Alois Fürstner, that was just one of many reasons to go along with Beatrice's idea and be part of the conference. Defining the topics of such an event was a very appealing idea for him: "Usually, in talks at the institute we have a strong focus on academia and on science," says Matthias Peeters. At "StuCon", he states, the students want to focus on what comes after their time at the Kohlenforschung.

Contributions from Industry

"There are so many opportunities to find a good job or even start your own company," adds Rakan Saeb, doctoral student in Dr. Josep Cornellà's group. That's why, in addition to purely scientific lectures, there will also be contributions from industry, a workshop on start-ups and a lecture by a patent attorney. The students also want to address the topic of mental health. Dinners and even a board game evening will ensure that socializing taken care of.

It is important to the organizers that the conference program is not for the doctoral students only but for the entire institute. Postdocs, technicians or colleagues from the administration are cordially invited to listen to the talks and join the discussions.

"We are very pleased that former employees the Kohlenforschung, the alumni, will also join," says Beatrice Lansbergen, revealing that the "oldest" in this round did his doctorate in 1993 and still feels very connected to the institute.

Loads of support

The students received great encouragement for their idea and loads of support from the board of directors. And there is more. Behind the conference stands a very large team of PhD students, postdocs, administration and many other colleagues, Bea Lansbergen says. "Without this help, we would not have been able to bring this conference to life," she emphasizes.

Even if it means a lot of work: the "StuCon" organizers hope that this will be just the first of many student conferences at the Kohlenforschung. "We want people to learn something useful," says Rakan Saeb. "It would also be nice, of course, if collaborations between different departments were to happen during the conference," adds Beatrice Lansbergen. "But above all, we want people to have a good time," says Matthias Peeters.

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