30 new doctoral and postdoctoral researchers have started their research journey at livMatS over the last months. On April 24 and 25, 2023, the cluster welcomed them with an early career researcher’s boot camp. The two-day event combined talks on key science topics of the cluster’s research with interactive sessions fostering networking and interdisciplinary collaboration.
Hands-on activities, elevator pitches, modeling and simulations
The boot camp began with a presentation on livMatS' overarching research vision, which seeks to shift the paradigm in materials science from static to life-like materials systems. This introduction was followed by a talk on bioinspired materials systems and insights into the systems being developed in the demonstrators unit. Researchers from psychology led participants through a hands-on experiment creating cognitive-affective-maps, a method for depicting people's beliefs toward a subject, for example toward specific technologies. The PhD students and postdoctoral researchers also learned about TAPAS, a method used in the cluster for sustainability assessment. The day concluded with elevator pitches so that participants were able to get to know each other’s research projects.
The second day began with an overview on imaging technique infrastructure available at the Freiburg Center for Interactive Materials and Bioinspired Technologies (FIT), followed by an introduction into modeling and simulation support in the cluster. Most importantly, students were challenged in the session to boil down their research to the problem they aim to solve and what parameters would be needed to model and simulate that. These insights proved valuable since most participants have not yet worked with simulations in their research. The afternoon offered more hands-on practice with 3D printing. In addition to learning key aspects of the printing workflow, students learned about state of the art 3D printing techniques.
Challenge of interdisciplinary collaboration
The boot camp culminated in a playful exercise on interdisciplinary thought experiments: Participants worked in groups to identify a problem and use their different expertise to tackle the problem as an interdisciplinary research team. Groups had to pitch their proposal for solving the problem in five minutes. The activity allowed participants to be creative and engage with other disciplines in exploring potential collaboration – the best prerequisite for continued success in livMatS' interdisciplinary projects.