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Workshop Series for Doctoral Candidates: “Staying on Track during the Pandemic – Ideas and Strategies from an International Network” (5 – 26 May 2021)


Organised and facilitated by the three Gateway Offices (Bordeaux, Melbourne, and Shanghai), the Graduate School and the Bayreuth-Melbourne Colloid/Polymer Network of the University of Bayreuth, referees from Australia, China, France and Germany provided insights into the different strategies and pandemic responses in their country and shared their ideas for a productive doctoral journey during and after lockdowns. In four productive workshops up to 40 participants attended to discuss the presented ideas, experiences and methods for staying healthy and productive throughout the pandemic.

In the first session, Desiree Dickerson, PhD, explained how to navigate uncertainty and worry and how to install micro-changes to maintain a solid emotional and mental foundation. Afterwards, doctoral candidates gathered over 100 ideas for coping strategies for current and future challenges with Dr. habil. Helmut Strobl and Dr. Philipp Laemmert in the second workshop. Lydie Lescarmontier, PhD, held the third workshop and gave fascinating insights into being stuck in the Antarctic during her PhD and her take-home-messages for the current lockdown. Yixin Qiu and Xin Huang wrapped up the series in the fourth workshop where they shared their personal experiences on how they manage to stay motivated and productive during their PhD studies.

#1 “We may all be in the same storm, but we are not all in the same boat”

#2 “Find your resources and what works for you”

#3 “Discover our adaptability as human beings”

#4 “After rain there will be a rainbow”

Those take-away messages are mirroring the positive momentum set by the workshop series. For the organisation team, it was important not to leave the PhD students alone during this difficult time, but to help doctoral candidates to develop a positive attitude about the current situation and break their feeling of isolation. The international dimension of the virtual exchanges not only offered the participants a chance to view their situation from a different perspective, but also a nice opportunity to network across national borders with like-minded people they would not have met otherwise.

This workshop series was the first joint project of the organizer team and shall be renewed to address other needs from PhDs since the series stroke a chord. In autumn, the series continues with information and strategies how to advance your international career and initiate research stays abroad. Stay tuned!

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