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Research in Germany” Booth Attracts Large Turnout at the 2016 AGU Fall Meeting in San Francisco

Fourteen research institutions, three funding organisations and three special events provided broad insight into and contacts with the geosciences research landscape in Germany

The booth visitor with the longest journey.
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The booth visitor with the longest journey.

© Insa Thiele-Eich

(19.12.16) As usual, the annual meeting of the American Geophysical Union (AGU) attracted more than 20,000 international geoscientists to the centrally located Moscone Center in the US city of San Francisco. Once again, the ‘Research in Germany’ initiative was present at the accompanying exhibition with a wide array of participants and events. The generously sized booth was shared by three German clusters of excellence in the earth sciences – CliSAP, MARUM and The Future Ocean – and for the first time two non-university research institutions, GEOMAR and GFZ, as well as a number of Priority Programmes, Collaborative Research Centres and Research Training Groups. Combined with an entertaining afternoon event at the booth, a careers information day and a DFG Leibniz Lecture including a German Social, it was an excellent opportunity to learn about the geosciences research landscape in Germany.

The large and well-positioned ‘Research in Germany’ booth immediately attracted the attention of visitors entering the exhibition, thanks to an eye-catching ceiling sign. With its attractive design, consistently good content and wide-ranging information, the booth has acquired a certain prominence at the AGU over the years and once again presented a convincing package. Over the five days of the exhibition, a total of 14 research institutions and three funding organisations presented their work and programmes at the booth, including participation and career opportunities. Together they offered wide-ranging information and advice, which attracted numerous conference visitors as well as curious exhibitors to the booth to chat, discuss and linger.

This year, four researchers from the participating research institutions provided a slightly different insight into ongoing innovative research projects in Germany. With some very entertaining short presentations on curious circumstances and unforeseen challenges that have cropped up during their research, they proved with a tongue-in-cheek approach that German research has a light-hearted side and that Germans are not above a little self-deprecation! The booth event, entitled ‘Best Failures – The Funniest Experiences from Science’ was so well received that many visitors stayed to vote for the most original presentation – and it was still being talked about the next day. The public’s choice award for the most appealing presentation went to Ali Hoshyaripour from CliSAP, who made his audience laugh with stories of intercultural research experiences in Germany and volcanology research at Popocatepetl, called ‘Popo’. But the other three presentations by Tom Kwasnitschka, The Future Ocean/GEOMAR, Jens Kallmeyer, GFZ and Gerald Jurasinski, Baltic TRANSCOAST were also very well received, earning appreciative applause.

Participants of the “Best Failures” event:

The International Career Fair, held for the first time at the AGU, also attracted lots of visitors to the ‘Research in Germany’ stand. Representatives of the three funding organisations, supported by doctoral researchers and investigators from the clusters of excellence, GEOMAR and the Research Training Groups ‘Integrated Hydrosystem Modelling’ and ‘Deep Earth Volatile Cycles’, talked about funding programmes and career opportunities in Germany, sharing insights into their own experiences of living and working in the country. This was especially popular with graduates, doctoral researchers and early career researchers. Meanwhile, collectors thoroughly enjoyed the free ‘Research in Germany’ beer coasters. Like last year, they featured many typically German motives such as the ever-popular garden gnomes as well as images of the institutes and projects represented at the booth. “That will add 28 new designs to my private coaster collection,” called out one American visitor enthusiastically.

As in previous years, the highlight of the ‘Research in Germany’ presence at the AGU in 2016 was the DFG Leibniz Lecture, which was followed by an evening reception at the local Goethe-Institut. Max Vögler, director of the DFG’s Washington office, and Sigrid Savelsberg, director of the Goethe-Institut San Francisco, welcomed those present and introduced the content of the lecture. The very well attended presentation by Leibniz Prize winner and geophysicist Ulrich Christensen from the Max Planck Institute for Solar System Research in Göttingen dealt with the relationship between magnetic fields and the interior composition of planets, taking the examples of Saturn, Mercury and Jupiter’s moon Ganymede, and prompted numerous questions from the audience. Around 200 conference participants then rounded off the week with convivial conversation and a look back at the meeting in the festively decorated atrium of the Goethe-Institut.

Next year, after being held in San Francisco for 49 years, the AGU will temporarily move to New Orleans while the Moscone Center undergoes extensive renovation. Like the AGU itself, ‘Research in Germany’ will be there with familiar, well-proven and new content.

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