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14th Annual GAIN Meeting in Boston

DFG Secretary General Dorothee Dzwonnek and DFG President Peter Strohschneider
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DFG Secretary General Dorothee Dzwonnek and DFG President Peter Strohschneider

© GAIN/Mark Wilson

The 14th Annual Meeting of the German Academic International Network (GAIN) took place in Boston with the motto “Germany recruits top scientists in the US.” Over 300 researchers and scientists from the US and Canada attended the 2014 meeting; many had scholarships from German organizations and about a third were DFG-funded Research Fellows. As in past years, the annual meeting gave participants the unique opportunity for discussions with high-ranking representatives from German science organizations, politicians as well as industry representatives. With 70 exhibitors, the GAIN conference is the largest career fair outside of Germany with a focus on German science and is therefore an excellent place for visitors to inquire about funding programs and open positions.

During the welcoming remarks, Secretary General Dzwonnek discussed the DFG’s past contributions to science and the fact that its funding was designed with sustainability in mind. She further cited top US scientist Professor Alec Wodtke, who relocated to Germany with a Humboldt Professorship and only recently reworded a famous quote by Heinrich Heine: “When I think of Germany at night, I see a place where research is still fun.”

DFG-President Professor Peter Strohschneider, however, participated in a panel discussion on “Science, Research and Innovation in Germany” during which he also addressed some of the structural deficits of German universities. Many core academic positions being cut has made career planning difficult and has caused uncertainty, for example; for many, it is too late to recalculate their current route. Strohschneider said that “we need to make sure that potential and acceptable intellectual failures in scientific careers do not lead to biographical catastrophes.”

Dorothee Dzwonnek, Martin Rabanus, Dr. Claudia Lücking-Michel, Kai Gehring, Dr. Thomas Feist, Dr. Karamba Diaby and Dr. Philipp Lengsfeld

Dorothee Dzwonnek, Martin Rabanus, Dr. Claudia Lücking-Michel, Kai Gehring, Dr. Thomas Feist, Dr. Karamba Diaby and Dr. Philipp Lengsfeld

© GAIN/Mark Wilson

To end the conference, Dorothee Dzwonnek moderated the “Conference Balance Sheet” and together with six members of the German Bundestag Committee on Education, Research and Technology Assessment drew “Conclusions for Policymakers.” The committee members seemed impressed by the vast content of the conference as well as by the repeated requests from early-career scientists that more be done to ensure the reliability of career prospects in research in Germany. However, participants were also able to confirm that past efforts had already paid off. Still, these efforts need to remain permanently integrated in German policy, because over the past years this aspect has made Germany an attractive destination for international scientists. The both heartfelt and urgent plea to Germans in America and Canada: “Become part of this positive and dynamic movement.”

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