Treasure hunt, fireplace talk & research results: First reunion of the Quantum Matter Academy in Erfurt


After the forced break due to the COVID-19 pandemic, a little more than 80 early career researchers of the Cluster of Excellence ct.qmat – Complexity and Topology in Quantum Matter have met again in person for the first time since 2019. The meeting in Erfurt was characterized by the joy of direct exchange and scientific discussions. Immediately afterwards, the first International Autumn School took place.


"Scientific discussion, getting to know each other and networking—everyone was really starved for a face-to-face meeting after a pandemic-forced break. Video conferences are practical, but can never replace face-to-face contact," emphasized spokesperson of the Würzburg branch of the Cluster, Prof. Ralph Claessen, at the end of the second meeting of the Quantum Matter Academy (QMA), which finally took place again in person from October 11 to 15, 2021, in the Thuringian state capital Erfurt.


The participants could attend a special evening event after the first lectures in which early career scientists of the Cluster presented their research results: During a fireplace chat, Tobias Meng from Dresden and Sol Jacobsen from Norway shared their very individual experiences on the topics of group leadership, resilience in science, and work-life balance.


"Our meeting showed that no one is alone with their worries in the doctoral or postdoctoral phase," Claessen said. "But if you only ever meet digitally, this fact quickly becomes invisible." A networking activity, as well as a treasure hunt through Erfurt, contributed to team building: First, each group was to find ten interesting things in common, then the city was explored together—so everyone got to know each other, and Erfurt, better.


In addition to the lecture blocks, a poster session brought the ct.qmat early career researchers up to date on the latest research. Jonas Erhardt from the Julius Maximilian University of Würzburg (JMU), Pedro Monteiro Consoli from Technische Universität Dresden (TUD) and Benedikt Placke from the Max Planck Institute for Physics of Complex Systems (MPI-PKS) were each awarded a medal for the best poster.


Before the second QMA meeting segued into the first fall school, the new QMA representatives were elected: Alexander Fritzsche and Dr. Markus Leisegang (both JMU) for the Executive Board (Steering Committee), Teresa Tschirner from the Leibniz Institute for Solid State and Materials Research Dresden (IFW) and Fabian Jakubcyk (TUD) for the Flex Fund Selection Committee, which decides on funding of the members' own projects.


"Our thanks go to Dr. Kavita Mehlawat (IFW Dresden), Philipp Kagerer (JMU), Dr. Louis Veyrat (JMU) and Tilman Schwemmer (JMU) for their commitment to the Quantum Matter Academy over the past two years. In addition, high praise goes to the five-member organizing team that got up a remarkably successful event," Claessen summed up.


"Topological Quantum Matter" —the topic of the first Fall School subsequently attracted also external doctoral researchers from Luxembourg, Switzerland, and Austria to Erfurt. In the scientific lectures as well as another poster session, QMA members exchanged their ideas with the external participants. The medals for the best posters here went to Markus Ritter (IBM Research Europe, Zurich) and Philipp Kagerer (JMU).


At the end, the participants took home a special memory from Erfurt: In a restaurant, a juggler took almost 100 scientists back to the Middle Ages. Then everyone sang along with him.


The second QMA meeting and the first fall school were held in accordance with the hygiene measures in force in Thuringia at the time.



Date & Facts

18 Oct 2021



© Kerstin Brankatschk

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