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Dahlem Research Fellowship for Incoming Experienced Researchers

Final Report Summary - DRS FELLOWSHIP (Dahlem Research Fellowship for Incoming Experienced Researchers)

The postdoctoral phase is a critical time in which the decision is made for or against a career in academia. The DRS Postdoc Fellowship Programme of the Dahlem Research School (DRS) at Freie Universitaet Berlin supports postdoctoral researchers, especially during the phase between PhD completion and obtaining the first position as an independent researcher, to enable them to prepare for and opt for an academic career.

The aims of the DRS Fellowship Program are to
• Recruit / regain international high potentials
• Boost fellows’ careers by exposing them to environments of research excellence
• Promote talent through targeted qualification

Five core measures have been identified to achieve these aims:
• International recruiting and transparent selection processes
• Attractive financial conditions and adequate duration
• Integration into the research environment and the Institution
• Qualification and Career Development
• Supporting Infrastructure (Information, Counselling, Service)

DRS Fellows are given the opportunity and the space to work independently on their own research projects, with their own research funding. They should publish their own findings as sole, lead, or corresponding author and expand their network of possible collaborators. They will gain experience and training in leadership, autonomous project management, financial planning and optionally also in teaching. Thus they prepare for their next position, which should be that of an independent researcher.

Since 2012, DRS has hosted 20 international researchers from 12 countries. Research topics are proposed by the fellows themselves, based on the foci of research within the host projects. The Fellows are working on a diverse range of projects, with topics for example ranging from “Automorphisms of Algebraic Curves” to “Neo-liberal globalization and contemporary Islam” and “Protein scaffolds in the coupling of synaptic exocytosis and endocytosis”.

Six research networks at Freie Universitaet that are funded by the German Excellence Initiative act as host projects:

- Excellence Cluster Languages of Emotion
- Excellence Cluster Topoi
- Graduate School Muslim Cultures and Societies
- Graduate School of East Asian Studies
- Berlin Mathematical School
- Excellence Cluster NeuroCure

Within the host projects, the DRS Fellows are paired with senior researchers who work as scientific advisors with the fellows. The uniqueness of the research fields, the extraordinary conditions for research in a rich network of regional research partners and the support through training and mentoring enable DRS Fellows to raise the quality of their research and thus contribute considerably towards their career progression.

Further benefits for DRS Fellows are:
- Salaried position
- Mobility and Travel allowance
- Research allowance
- German language course
- Access to DRS Professional Development Program
- Orientation Week with tailored qualification program

Through close cooperation with the university’s research funding support service, DRS Fellows are furthermore prepared to write successful applications for project funding to one of the prestigious national or European research group leader programmes. Alternatively, they might also of course apply for a position as a junior professor or research group leader at a national university or non-university research institution or at a respective institution in Europe.

Of the 20 recruited DRS Fellows, 15 obtained direct follow-up positions at universities or research institutions, 10 in Europe and 5 outside Europe. 4 of the European positions are at Freie Universitaet.

The remaining 5 DRS Fellows’ contracts have been extended with University funds beyond the end of the first COFUND project until the start of 2016 to bridge the gap until the decision on their next positions is known.

One Fellow recently wrote: “I hope this finds you well! I am writing to let you know that I have been offered a permanent position as Assistant Professor of Roman Art and Archaeology at the University of […]. […] I also wanted to say that I've had a terrific time in Berlin, and I think this new job opportunity would not have been possible without the work I have been conducting here with the support of DRS and Topoi.”

With the financial support provided by COFUND, the DRS Fellowship Programme has supported and continues to support international researchers’ recruitment at Freie Universitaet Berlin and to improve the quality and streamlining of the selection and recruitment procedures. It enables Freie Universitaet to better promote excellence and ultimately to contribute to the European objective of making Europe’s research and innovation system more competitive on a global scale.

For questions regarding the DRS Postdoc Fellowship program please contact the Dahlem Research School Fellowship Team:

Dahlem Research School
Freie Universität Berlin
Hittorfstr. 16
14195 Berlin, Germany