It was a conference to remember: With 200 visitors, the 23rd Nachwuchswissenschaftler*innenkonferenz (Young Scientists Conference, or NWK), held May 31 and June 1, 2023 at Harz University of Applied Sciences, was the most visited NWK in the conference’s history. The organisers also reported an unprecedented level of participation from numerous universities of applied sciences and institutions. Furthermore, never before have so many federal states of Germany taken part as this year.
“The purpose of the NWK is to provide a platform for young German scientists, especially at universities of applied sciences. This nationwide conference is often the first opportunity for doctoral candidates to present their research to research assistants, scientists with third-party funding, and Master students,” says Dr. Frieder Stolzenburg who, as Vice President for Research and Equal Opportunities at Harz University of Applied Sciences, is in charge of the conference.
“We received 151 presentations for the NWK from across Germany, and after we assessed all of them, selected the 91 best submissions. As a result, we can give 212 authors from 36 universities of applied sciences and other universities, as well as from 21 partner companies, research institutes, and other institutions, the opportunity to present their ideas to the public,” explains Stolzenburg. Young scientists at the NWK gave visitors insight into their research through brief presentations and self-made posters. You can find a selection of these in the 500-page conference book, which is available for download at www.hs-harz.de/nwk2023 (in German).
The visitors also showed great interest in the research results, as shown by the public vote. The presentation “FINEconcepts – Transfer of knowledge and energy system optimisation with the digital twin” by Klaus Markgraf, Benjamin Dietrich, Katja Müller, Robert Flassig, and Peter Flassig (Technical University Brandenburg) and the poster “Genetic examination of Apis mellifera with regard to their tolerance to Varroa mites” by Cindy Moeller, Lisa Prudnikow, and Röbbe Wünschiers (Mittweida University of Applied Sciences) were the two audience favourites. The winners received a certificate and 400 euros in prize money. Second and third place also received awards of 300 and 200 euros, respectively.
The NWK not only focused on research, but also on career opportunities at universities of applied sciences. There were presentations that discussed how to obtain your doctorate or professorship, and that addressed the balance between career, family, and self-care. The graduate centers at the Harz, Magdeburg-Stendal, Merseburg, and Anhalt Universities of Applied Sciences introduced the new possibility of obtaining one’s Ph.D. at universities of applied sciences in Saxony-Anhalt. The workshop specially designed for doctoral candidates who wanted helpful tips for presenting and writing was also very popular.
One special highlight was the presentation by Dr. Kristin Eichhorn, co-initiator of the hashtag #IchBinHanna. In response to an explanatory video about the Academic Fixed-Term Contract Act by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research, the catchphrase sparked a public discussion of working conditions in science. Together with the conference guests, they spoke about the advantages and drawbacks of limited project durations and work contracts.
“Harz University of Applied Sciences proved itself to be a good host for NWK 23. I’m especially proud of the wide range of topics covered, which were not only highly informative and quite interesting from a research perspective, but which also dared to ask the more critical questions,” says Dr. Frieder Stolzenburg. He is already excited for NWK 24, which will be held at Mittweida University of Applied Sciences in June, 2024. “I wish our colleagues there a stress-free lead up to the conference, and for a successful event. I’m very excited to see all the different topics awaiting our young scientists.”
The Nachwuchswissenschaftler*innenkonferenz (NWK) was first held at Merseburg University of Applied Sciences, and was then called the Young Scientists Conference for Central German Universities of Applied Sciences. Now, submissions come from all across Germany. The goal of the NWK is to promote interdisciplinary communication between Master students, young researchers, and doctoral candidates from all disciplines at universities of applied sciences. After 2002, 2006, and 2011, this year marked the NWK’s fourth time at Harz University of Applied Sciences. NWK 24 will be held at Mittweida University of Applied Sciences.
Author: Karoline Klimek
Image author: © Karoline Klimek
Image rights: © Hochschule Harz