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Information für die Wissenschaft Nr. 14 | 9. März 2017
Materials Science and Engineering: 8th Workshop for Early Career Investigators

With a focus on "Inorganic Glasses and Silicate Melts: from Theory to Application", the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG, German Research Foundation) organises their eighth Workshop for Early Career Investigators in the area of Materials Science and Engineering. The aim of Workshops for Early Career Investigators is to prepare researchers at an early stage of their scientific careers for their first independent research projects and to provide mentoring for managing their own DFG projects. These workshops are intended to attract outstanding young researchers to interdisciplinary fields of research. An additional important aim is to address the need for future generations of excellent scientists within interdisciplinary research areas.

Glass is not only one of the oldest man-made materials, glass science has also contributed greatly to the advancement of society by furthering our understanding of glasses used in optics, technology, chemistry, architecture or medicine, to name but a few. Glass constitutes a tremendously important material of our daily lives, and new challenges for glass uses arise continuously. Current challenges in glass research include, but are not limited to, optical properties (photonic devices, optical non-linearity, solid lasers), predictive modelling of glass structure and properties, chemical durability of glasses (nuclear waste storage, pharmaceutical container glasses, implant materials) or alternative methods for glass preparation and processing.

To address current and newly arising challenges, not only glass technology is needed, but particularly glass science is key. A fundamental approach to understanding the relationship between glass structure and properties, with regard to both improving current glass applications and predictive design of new tailored glassy materials is of vital importance. One main challenge in glass science lies in the nature of glass, which combines elements of both liquid and solid matter. In contrast to ceramics and minerals, the liquid pseudo-nature of glass allows quasi-infinite variations of chemical composition, and this variability constitutes a significant challenge for the prediction of glass properties and the calculation of glass structure.

In order to maintain fundamental glass research in Germany at an internationally competitive level for future years, a strong glass science community is necessary and a basis of young scientists who are not only experts in the field but also have the opportunity to embark on an academic career in glass science. By giving excellent young investigators the opportunity to develop their own research ideas and, subsequently, submit their first grant proposals, this Workshop for Early Career Investigators aims at paving the way for the next generation of principal investigators in academic glass research.

By nature, glass is situated at the border of different research fields, such as engineering, theoretical physics, solid-state chemistry or thermodynamics of geological melts. For this reason, the Workshop for Early Career Investigators deliberately invites applications from all these areas to not only increase scientific exchange and interaction but, ultimately, strengthen the field of glass research in Germany by means of interdisciplinary cooperation.

The Workshop for Early Career Investigators “Inorganic Glasses and Silicate Melts: from Theory to Application” aims at providing outstanding and highly qualified young researchers with an opportunity to develop their own research ideas and pursue this topic within their own DFG-funded project. In addition, discussions and networking with their peers as well as national and international experts will provide them with support during their first steps towards independent research projects and help them to pursue their scientific careers.

This workshop will cover the fields of inorganic glasses and silicate melts, which will be divided into three areas:

  1. Silicate glasses. They still constitute the major group of materials studied in the field. Closely related are the areas of silicate melts, which are particularly relevant, e.g. in geology or in metallurgy (slags).
  2. Non-silicate glasses, such as phosphate and borate glasses or mixed systems, and non-oxide glass systems, e.g. chalcogenide glasses.
  3. Relationship between glass structure and processing, in a more application-oriented approach. Here, however, a clear connection to fundamental glass science is necessary; project ideas not considering the underlying glass science will not be considered.

In all three areas, the focus lies on studies of the amorphous materials and their structure-property relationship.

One major area of glass research, the mechanical properties of glasses, is currently investigated within the DFG Priority Programme “Topological engineering of ultra-strong glasses” (SPP 1594) and will therefore not be considered. Metallic glasses will also not be part of this programme. Unlike the traditional empirical (“trial & error”) approach to glass research, current methods of glass structure analysis (IR, Raman, NMR, diffraction, XAS etc. but also theoretical approaches such as MD or ab initio simulations) allow to thoroughly investigate the relationship between structure and composition, and this should be visible in the project ideas presented within this workshop.

Course of the Workshop for Early Career Investigators

In a first step of the application process, candidates submit a three-page outline for a research project in one of the three main areas described above. The outline proposal should describe the project idea, a general concept of the proposed project, and preliminary work. Selection of the candidates will be carried out by the two coordinators and a DFG representative. Up to 15 candidates will be invited for participation, based on the significance of the project within the research area, the quality of the project idea (originality, feasibility) as well as on previous scientific achievements. Proofs of outstanding achievements (degree, preferably a doctorate, in a relevant field; awards where applicable) as well as at least one publication in a high-ranking scientific journal are expected.

Workshop Part I

During a five-day workshop held in October 2017 the participants will be able to learn about successful proposal writing, grant management and careers in academia from presentations, seminars and one-to-one tutorials. National and international experts will give talks about current trends and challenges in glass science and research, discuss about project ideas and give advice on the writing of the proposals over the course of the workshop. As an additional benefit, this workshop will allow for early stage networking of the participants.

Workshop Part II

No later than 15 December 2017 the participants will submit their full DFG proposals, which they developed from their initial project outline. In spring 2018, the DFG will organise a one-day review colloquium, where the applicants present their DFG proposals to a review panel. Based on the recommendations of this panel, the final funding decision will be made in early summer 2018 by DFG’s Statutory Bodies.

Workshop Part III

All participants of the Workshop for Early Career Investigators whose full DFG proposals are funded will be invited to attend a one-day meeting in June 2019, where they will have the opportunity to exchange experiences. The organisers of the workshop as well as a DFG representative will again give advice on project management.

Route to the Workshop for Early Career Investigators

This Workshop for Early Career Investigators addresses early career researchers in the fields of engineering sciences or natural sciences, i.e. doctoral students in the final phase of their thesis (doctoral examination planned for no later than 15 December 2017), or graduates who have completed their academic training (received their doctorates) after 15 December 2013. An intention to pursue an academic career is expected. Only first time applicants to DFG are eligible to apply. However, previous DFG proposals for research fellowships, publication and travel expenses, or for the establishment of a scientific network are not considered first proposals. For the future full DFG proposals, please observe the Guidelines on the Duty to Cooperate for members of non-university institutions.


Applications containing:

  • A CV (1 page maximum),
  • A complete publication list,
  • A reference letter from the supporting German academic institution, and
  • An outline of the proposal (3 pages maximum) containing project idea, concept of the proposed project, and preliminary work

must be submitted as a .pdf document in English no later than 15 June 2017 by e-mail to: Link auf E-Maildelia.brauer@uni-jena.de.

Submitted outline proposals will be evaluated by an expert panel based on the following criteria:

  • Significance of the project within the research area,
  • Quality of the project idea (originality, feasibility), and
  • Previous scientific achievements

The intended project duration may be one, two or three years. Future full DFG proposals may comprise the full spectrum of modules available for the “Research Grants” funding line, including Temporary Positions for Principal Investigators (i.e. for funding of the candidate’s own academic position). Proposals for Research Fellowships to conduct a project at a research institution outside Germany are possible as well.

Invitations for participation in the Workshop Part I will be sent out from 15 July 2017. Workshop Part I will take place from 8 October 2017 to 13 October 2017 near Bamberg, Bavaria. Cost of travel (train, 2nd class), accommodation and subsistence will be covered. Candidates are expected to contribute an amount of 100 € for costs not covered by the DFG.

Further information

For scientific enquiries concerning the scope of the programme, please contact the
workshop’s coordinators:

For administrative matters please contact the DFG representative:


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