5 October 2021, 9:30 - 18:15 h: GSCN Non-PI Meeting 2021 in Dresden
Report of the GSCN non-PI Meeting by organizers Verena Börger, Germán Camargo Ortega, Meike Hohwieler, Gülce Percin, Mona Vogel
This year’s in-person non-PI meeting took place at the Center for Regenerative Therapies in Dresden. We had this year 16 participants from German institutions and 2 from Hungarian research centers meeting ahead of the conference. ...
This year’s get-together greatly allowed open fervent discussion between junior scientist in an informal setting about conceptual and technical challenges in the fields of stem cell research as well as methodological troubleshooting. ...
Moreover, we dedicated a substantial proportion of the meeting’s schedule to talk about the current Academic Term Contract Act (Wissenschaftszeitvertragsgesetz) and its impact in the professional and social development of non-PI (stem cell) researchers in Germany (see main points listed below). We invited a representative from the labor union, presenting facts about the ongoing challenges and planned modifications of the Amendment upcoming year. ...
All in all, the information acquired by the participants through the meeting is an absolute invaluable good essential in the career of junior scientists and will certainly help them and their labs progressing in their objectives. We are very glad to find out that some participants have joined the meeting for their second or third time, and the many of rest have expressed their will to join next year. This, thus, indicates that the goal of the meeting in connecting non-PI scientists inland and abroad is successful. We ended the meeting with a dinner at a traditional Saxonian restaurant in the old city center.
Comments and conclusion on the Academic Term Contract Act:
1. Nobody of the attendees were on a permanent contract.
2. Our impression is that participants agree that at PhD level not having a permanent contract is not dramatic, since studies anyways are planned to last for a specific number of years (4-6 years normally).
3. However, at post-doctoral fellow stage, in particular at senior post-doc level, during which many scientists want for example to establish a family, make savings and improving the rent (among other things), not having at least a permanent contract could lead to financial instability and mental load.
4. Not surprisingly, and perhaps giving the fact that the ratio of remuneration to invested time/energy is very low in sciences, roughly 70% of attendees don’t see themselves following an academic career. This is bad for two reasons: (a) German sciences loses many of their best researchers, as they prefer a non-academic path, or they move to other competitor countries with a more balanced life quality. (b) The post-docs that remain in Germany may not be able to fully commit – whether mentally or physically - to their duties, as they may turn a substantial amount of their focus on trying to find ways to stabilize their situation.
5. Both mentioned reasons decrease, obviously, the quality of German (stem cell) research and make the country less competitive.
Read the full report here.