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Qualification Programme & Events



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Soft matter science is an interdisciplinary field involving physics, chemistry, materials science, engineering, and also biology. Consequently, an adapted qualification programme needs to implement contributions from all these disciplines. The IRTG/Soft Matter Science has established such a qualification programme which comprises four key elements (SoMaS Summer Schools, Discussion Meetings, Internal Workshops, Training Camps). These elements are complemented by the weekly seminar series and the thematic workshops.

The combination of all these components aims at offering a multifaceted qualification programme which accompanies the doctoral research. The programme provides scientific and soft skills, encourages the active participation of the doctoral researchers, and tries to prepare them for the international job market.

Renowned international experts in the field of soft matter and materials science are frequently invited, e.g. as visiting researchers or Mercator fellows, to contribute to the research and qualifiaction programme and the mentoring of the doctoral researchers.

The “SoMaS” (Soft Matter Science) Summer School is organized annually and hosts an international audience. Every school has an overarching topic around which the interdisciplinary lectures (introductory courses), research talks, tutorials (“rework seminars”) as well as poster sessions and seminars on career prospects are arranged.



These meetings are international conferences discussing current challenges in soft matter science. The main focus is on discussions which are fuelled by invited talks and “flash presentations”, and further continued during extended poster sessions. The flash presentations are very short contributions: They give complementary statements on the topics exposed in the talks, raise questions or sketch new ideas.

In the framework of the Internal Workshops the PhD students present their results (in English) whereby a major focus is on discussing the progress and new ideas.

During the Training Camps, which are organized exclusively by PhD students, participants exchange their experience on subjects of common interest. Depending on the Training Camp’s topic supervisors from the participating universities or experts from outside are invited.

A thematic workshop is a short, highly focused meeting. The main aim is to present the current status of the research in order to enhance scientific exchange. PhD students are intensively involved in the organization of the workshops.


  • Weekly Seminars

The seminars are held by invited experts from the field of Soft Matter Science and have for goal to bring together the scientific community interested by a particular topic. They take place weekly during the semester (both in Freiburg and in Strasbourg) and are open to all interested researchers of Freiburg, Strasbourg, Mulhouse and Basel.

Seminars in Freiburg

Usually on Wednesday afternoon at 14h15 (FMF – Freiburg Materials Research Center, Stefan-Meier-Str. 21 / Seminarraum A)

Seminars in Strasbourg

Usually on Tuesday morning at 10h30 (ICS – Institut Charles Sadron, 23 rue du Loess / Amphithéâtre Henri Benoît)


PhD students may also obtain training in complementary skills, such as in the language of the partner country (by the stays at the partner institutions and courses offered at the partner universities), in management duties (by the organization of the workshops), in intellectual property rights, technical writing for their publications, time management, scientific communication etc. (by the participation in seminars on career prospects during the SoMaS Summer Schools or in courses offered by the International Graduate Academy (IGA) in Freiburg).

All of these skills have a beneficial impact on the future professional career of the IRTG fellows.


  • Career Perspectives

The IRTG/Soft Matter Science is closely cooperating with KITE mentoring programme.


The DFG's Mercator Fellowship facilitates long-term project-based cooperation between our IRTG/Soft Matter Science and international researchers.

Prof. Alexei Likhtman from the University of Reading, UK, is the first Mercator Fellow of the IRTG/Soft Matter Science. Prof. Alexei Likhtman participated in our Fall Workshop (October 5 and 6, 2015 in Breisach/Rhein) as reviewer for our research projects and held lectures (in Strasbourg and Freiburg), e.g. on "Relaxation of surface tension and dynamic contact angle in simple liquids".

We cordially welcome Prof. Greg McKenna and Prof. Murugappan Muthukumar as Mercator Fellows of the IRTG/Soft Matter Science. Prof. Muthukumar and Prof. McKenna participated in our spring workshop and summer school 2016. Both act in general as reviewers for our research projects and hold lectures in Strasbourg and Freiburg in the frame of our seminar series and offer group discussions in addition.


  • Visiting Researchers

The IRTG provides exposure to a broad and worldwide range of concepts and ideas in soft matter science. Thus, national and international experts in the field of soft matter and materials science, who are not part of the IRTG, are invited to contribute to the research and qualification programme. These contributions shall involve (i) long-term visits in order to participate in specific research projects, (ii) multi-day visits for a block seminar and extensive discussions.

Visiting researchers in 2011:
-    Hong Xu, Université de Paul Verlaine, Metz, France: Collaboration on projects A1 and C3 with A. Blumen, C. Friedrich and J. Wittmer
-    Sergey Obukhov, University of Florida, Gainesville, USA: Collaboration on project C3 with A. Blumen and J. Baschnagel (Mai 2011 - July 2011)

Visiting researchers in 2013:
-    Andreas Weinberger, Institut Charles Sadron, Strasbourg, France: Collaboration on project A2 with S. Schiller, C. Marques and W. Meier

Visiting researchers in 2014:
-   Christopher Kemper Ober, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY, USA: Collaboration on projects with J. Rühe


  • National and International Conferences

We encourage and support the doctoral researchers to participate by poster and/or oral presentations in national and international conferences to get in contact with the cutting-edge science in the research field of the IRTG.


The IRTG/Soft Matter Science presents its qualification and research programme at diverse events.



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