DFG Research Fellows at “DFG2020 – Because Research Matters”

(05/27/20) Approximately half of all researchers supported by the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG, German Research Foundation) with a postdoctoral fellowship are attracted to North America, where they go on to lay the initial foundations for their respective research careers in Canadian and US laboratories. There they are supervised by the DFG’s North America office, included in the German Academic International Network (GAIN) and invited to meet with DFG funding recipients at the annual conferences of GAIN, alternating between Boston and San Francisco, to exchange experiences with one another and, most importantly, with their funding organisation. At the event, the DFG reminds funding recipients of their role as ambassadors of the excellence of the German research landscape and makes it clear that the respective careers and related needs are close to its heart. Not least, it is also very interested in their views on the significance of free and knowledge-driven research.

As part of the campaign “Because Research Matters” marking the foundation of the Notgemeinschaft der Deutschen Wissenschaft 100 years ago, the DFG’s North America office has asked fellowship recipients to answer the question of why research matters to them and why they think that it should matter to as many people as possible. The request was met with a very positive response and quickly received fresh and original contributions. The statements often reflected subject specialisations, such as “Research is what makes the right course of action possible in the first place” (Dr. Clara Carus, postdoctoral researcher in philosophy at Harvard University) and “Human knowledge is self-aware, such that it can articulate its own assumptions and rules” (Dr. Lucian Ionel, postdoctoral researcher in philosophy at the University of Pittsburgh), and approaches “oriented towards applied research”, such as “#researchmatters to me because it gives me the opportunity to offer seriously ill cancer patients new treatment options...” (Dr. med. Tanja Khosrawipour, postdoctoral researcher at the University of California, Irvine) and “Medical and social progress is driven by people with a thirst for knowledge” (Dr. Martin Kauke, postdoctoral researcher at Harvard Medical School), through to approaches anchored in social and political science, such as “A society in which #researchmatters, that is and remains inquisitive, that seeks out discussion and respects other opinions has the potential to combat fake news and blind hatred” (Dr. Miriam Kutsch, postdoctoral researcher at Duke University) and “We need research and its sustaining academic institutions, as diverse as our global communities, to deliver the full benefits of innovations in research for global progress” (Dr. Laurel Raffington, postdoctoral researcher at the University of Texas at Austin).