Photo: Maciej Czekajewski/

Testimonials: HIGRADE-funded Activities

Physali courses at FU Berlin (online) link

Vid Svara

Physalia courses from FU Berlin organizes intensive courses and workshops in bioinformatics, genomics and other related fields. I participated in Physali course "Population genomics" that was organized as a one week course. The course should take place in Berlin where also meals and accommodation could be provided on demand but due to Covid-19 situation the course was moved online.

The course was led by the lecturers from the University of East Anglia and started every day at 1 pm and lasted until 9 pm due to the participants from most continents (eg. North America, Europe, Australia). The course is meant for researchers at different stages, from PhD students to senior researchers. We used Zoom and Slack portals to be able to see presentations, instructions, to communicate with each other, and post questions.

In the course we covered several topics of population genomics, working with large data set examples via the server. Every exercise consisted of theoretical lecture (1/4 of the time) about each topic, introduction to the data set and the relevant software needed, followed by a practical hands-on part and discussion. The lecturers were available through-out the course for questions, discussion and support regarding exercises. There was also time allocated for an open discussion and work on our own data sets. All-in-all a very pleasant and useful experience.

Braunwald Course “Biosystems Engineering - Bioreactors and Cell Factories”, Braunwald (CH) link

Caroline Ruhl

What was the most interesting thing you learned during the trip about science?

  • Modelling, scaling and mass balancing of bioreactor processes: How to design a bioreactor setup, and how to predict its output? The course teaches fundamentals of energy and kinetics in different bioreactor setups, and how to model those using computational tools (“Berkeley Madonna”).
  • Fluxomics applications such as ¹³C-MFA for network reconstruction as the “2nd level” of rational bioprocess design and strain optimization, aided by a convenient Matlab tool “CellNetAnalyzer”.

What was the most interesting thing you learned about the country/region?

Hiking around Braunwald is really fun – even (or especially?) in bad weather! The misty mountains and rolling rain clouds in the valleys are a magical experience to remember. Prof. Heinzle is an avid hiker who will share with you his vast knowledge about this one-of-a-kind place of nature!

Clouds clearing over Braunwald’s beautiful alpine landscape / C. Ruhl, UFZ.

What was most valuable about the trip for your personal life?

I enjoyed the inspiring atmosphere and getting in touch with people from all over the world! You’ll also get a glimpse into the manifold biotechnological applications in science and industry.

Would you recommend this event to other PhDs? Why?

Whether you go for industry or research, the hands-on approach of the course with exercises guided by a helpful and friendly team will get you fundamental skills for your biotech career. Also the location is awesome (try the panorama pool!), and the food is terrific!

N² Conference

N² Event 2019 "From Research to Application", Berlin (D) (link)

Michaela Löffler and others

is comprised of the doctoral researcher representatives of the Helmholtz Association [Helmholtz Juniors], the Max Planck Society [Max Planck PhDnet] and the Leibniz Association [Leibniz PhD network], which makes it the major association of doctoral researchers in Germany. This year N² - the network of networks - was hosting a conference for doctoral researchers as part of the Berlin Science week.
The N² Event 2019 focused on the potential applications of basic research. With doctoral researchers from all fields of science, keynote speakers from academia and industry, this was a truly interdisciplinary conference.
A group of UFZ doctoral researchers attended keynote presentations, e.g. from Antje Boetius, Angela Friederici and Luciano Floridi, workshops, such as ‘academic writing’, ‘data visualisation’ or ‘science policy’. The conference also offered panel discussions, a poster session, a science slam and a career fair. We congratulate Xin You from UMB to a great 2nd place in the science slam!
During the career fair, alumni from the doctoral representations talked about their life and job after the PhD. Also, companies offered jobs and insights into their work.
This conference was a great opportunity to meet other doctoral researchers from different Helmholtz centers, associations and fields in science! We kindly thank HIGRADE for the funding this trip.

Photo: Elias Sobotka, University Duisburg-Essen

Ruhr Graduate School in Economics "Economic impact assessment of Energy and climate policies using gams and MPSGE", Essen (D)

Felix Reutter

What was the most interesting thing you learned during the trip about science?

The most interesting science related thing during the seminar days was that we were reminded that technical skills alone are not very valuable but that you also need a solid theoretical foundation for doing a good analysis.

What was the most interesting thing you learned about the region? And for your personal life?

Although I originally come from the region where the seminar took place, the social event, namely a guided tour at Zeche Zollverein, a former coal mine industrial complex which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site today, was very interesting. Besides learning about a new method, I valued it a lot getting in touch with other course participants who mostly came from abroad for this seminar.

Would you recommend this event to other PhDs?

For PhDs interested in energy and climate related economic questions, working with GAMS, and computable general equilibrium (CGE) models, I can recommend the seminar. Prof. Böhringer who held the seminar is one of the leading scholars in this field worldwide.

SETAC Course: Ecotoxicology and Predictive Modelling, January 2020, Lyon (F)

Fola Ogungbemi

The course is good for anyone who needs an overview of modelling techniques in ecotoxicology. It was a good mixture of lectures and practice sessions. Also, Lyon is a beautiful city with nice mountains and old buildings and I enjoyed the social event where we went into the city for dinner.


PUB Summer School, Vienna (AT)

Sumra Mushtaq

What was the most interesting thing you learned during the trip about science?

I learned the advanced methods for runoff prediction in data scarce catchments. Data Scarcity is the major problem in developing countries and need to address this issue for the sustainable water resources management.

I strongly recommend to hydrologists to attend this summer school. Prof. Günter Blöschl is the editor of book “Prediction of runoff at ungauged basins” and has an excellent working group.

Thanks to the UFZ for giving me opportunity to attend PUB Summer School.

MSc and PhD course Plant Protection Biology (Alnarp, Sweden)

Hieu Linh Duong

What was the most interesting thing you learned during the trip about science?

I think the most interesting thing is that the course covered most of issues regarding agricultural science in general and plant protection in particular. The course also gave me a good opportunity to go for an excursion and site visit to an apple farm and a company selling seeds. In addition, it was great because students from different subject areas could participate in the course and broaden the scope of his/her knowledge in science. Solnäs Apple Farm. Photo: Hieu Linh Duong, UFZ.

What was most valuable about the trip for your personal life?

It was a nice experience when other students and me joined together for cooking, eating and going around Malmö city.

 GMP - Good Manufacturing Practice Course, Halle (D)

Johannes Lambrecht

GMP Kurs Logo

What was the most interesting thing you learned during the trip about science?
I was able to get a very hands-on insight into the fascinating real world of large scale biotechnological and pharmaceutical production. It was interesting to get a glimpse of the extra mile you have to take with every little detail when a small mistake could potentially harm life and well being of patients.

What was the most interesting thing you learned about the region?
You would think that Halle should be well known due the close proximity. But on my daily commute by bike from the station I discovered a lot of nice places, like the Dölauer Heide, I visited afterwards or am going to visit in the future. One of my best discoveries:“Fischer’s Heide Imbiss” does a dam good “Wurstgoulash” that you should definitely try the next time you are at the UFZ Halle which is also situated on the Weinbergcampus where the course was held.

What was most valuable about the trip for your personal life?
The numerous contacts and personal conversations with potential employers were a very helpful guide in the ever present struggle of academia vs. industry. They might turn out to be helpful for future job searches.

Other Events & Activities Funded by HIGRADE

Field trips/ Courses


  • Paperwriting Workshop with Dr. Matthias Koschorreck, February each year
  • Trip to Federal Environment Agency (UBA)
  • Courses and events initiated by PhD-Teams

Paperwriting Workshop in the Harz mountains. / Photo: Matthias Koschorreck, UFZ
Paperwriting Workshop 2019 in the Harz mountains. / Photo: Matthias Koschorreck, UFZ

Examples of individual trips

  • Summer School Biotransformations, Hannover (D)
  • Course "The FEM for Deforming Porous Media", Dublin (IRL)
  • iDiv Summer School, Leipzig (D)
  • Summer School "Sense making of GPS Data in a GIS Environment", Utrecht (NL)
  • Course "CFF with OpenFOAM", Stuttgart (D)
  • Summer School: Dynamic Modeling of Toxic Effects", Holbaek (DK)
  • Course "Age and Anatomical Structure of Plants", Kloster Dorf (CH)
  • Summer School "Spatio-Temporal Data Analyses Using Free Software", Matera (IT)
  • Summer School "Advanced Course on Metabolomics for Microbial Systems Biology", Delft (NL)
  • Course "Dynamic Modeling of Toxic Effects", Copenhagen (DK)
  • Sommerschule "Qualitätssicherung in der Analytischen Chemie", Berlin (D)
  • "Phytoplankton pigment analysis course", Horsholm (DK)
  • Fortran Workshop HLRS, Stuttgart (D)
  • ...