With its third event, “Junior Research Groups: Funding Opportunities and Career Paths”, Junges Wissenschaftsforum Dahlem addressed one of the most important career opportunities for young academics on their way to a professorship: directing a junior research group. For this occasion, more than 100 junior researchers from Freie Universität and its regional partners gathered at the Seminaris Conference Center on February 18, 2014, to hear about different funding opportunities and talk to heads of successful junior research groups.
The evening began with a presentation by Dr. Michael Fuchs from the German Research Foundation (DFG). Dr. Fuchs presented the Emmy Nother Programme, which every year supports 50 to 60 junior research groups from all disciplines for a period of five years. Afterwards, Dr. Uli Rockenbauch from Freie Universität’s Research Support Division discussed three more funding programs: the Freigeist Fellowships of the Volkswagen Foundation, which support ambitious research projects located between established research fields, the highly competitive but attractive Starting and Consolidator Grants of the European Research Council, and the Junior Research Groups supported by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF).
Then, Dr. Jaane Rauschenberg presented the current funding lines of the Center for Research Strategy which are being realized as part of the institutional strategy of Freie Universität. Here, too, junior research groups play an important role. As part of the university’s career path model, the CRS is funding 20 junior research groups which combine the task of creating and directing a group with the position of a junior professorship.
During the second half of the evening, the participants had the chance to take part in one of four different workshops conducted by heads of junior research groups from different disciplines. The chemists Dr. Laura Hartmann (Max Planck Institute of Colloids and Interfaces) and Dr. Marcelo Calderón, the literary scholar Dr. Julia Weber, and the education researcher Dr. Dr. Diana Raufelder (all from Freie Universität Berlin) talked about their experiences in applying for and then creating their respective junior research groups. The topics discussed were as diverse as the backgrounds of the participants and included subjects such as interdisciplinarity, the selection processes of different institutions, the recruitment of personnel, and career paths leading up to the direction of the junior research group. Questions concerning application processes were also answered by the program managers of the Freie Universität’s Research Support Division.
Afterwards, over food and drinks, all of the presenters were available for further questions, inspiring many of the participants to think about creating junior research groups themselves.