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Photos: Welcome Centre, UoC

International Research Careers


'EURAXESS dezentral Workshop 2016' at the University of Cologne

EURAXESS provides information and advice for internationally mobile researchers who come to Germany to conduct research or who want to go to another country. In addition to a workshop in Bonn, each year EURAXESS Germany organizes a decentralized workshop for advisors responsible for mobile researchers at institutions in Germany. This was staged on the 23rd and 24th of June 2016 by Albert’s International Assistance, the Welcome Centre of the University of Cologne. On the first day, the participants gathered at the Max Planck Institute for Biology of Ageing, on the second day at the University of Cologne’s premises. Apart from current topics to do with advisory services for researchers, the workshop is always also a valuable opportunity to exchange ideas and network players from German universities and other research institutions.

An article by the Welcome Centre of the University of Cologne



A perfect event which has raised the bar for the next decentralized workshops.

Participant, quoted from the anonymised evaluation conducted by EURAXESS


We have chosen an ambitious slogan: “International research careers – Support, advise, promote” could be both a condensed description of the tasks of a modern Welcome Centre as well as the abbreviated title of a visionary programme, depending on how narrowly or broadly you wish to interpret the significance of the three verbs at the end.

With our conference programme, we are oscillating between these two poles: We take a look both at assistance for researchers in everyday practice as well as new trends in the area of career advancement and HR development. Our focus is both on international researchers in Germany as well as the internationalization of research careers at German higher education and research institutions. And we examine what training is appropriate for the supporters, advisors and promoters themselves. 

Extract from the conference brochure (German). Click here to download.


That Time When Judith Butler Dropped By – The Welcome Reception
on the Eve of the Workshop

Judith Butler and Friederike Heuck (Welcome Centre, UoC) Photo: Welcome Centre, UoC

Not quite so many guests as expected came to the launch of the EURAXESS Workshop on Wednesday evening, but some of them were of a very high calibre. Profesor Catharine Stimpson – one of the event speakers and former dean of New York University as well as member of the Network Board of Scholars at Risk – came with her partner to ring in the conference in a small circle with Kölsch, the local beer, and Libanese cuisine from El Habibi, Cologne’s cult takeaway.

That by chance the lecture by one of the most renowned philosophers of our times, Judith Butler, was also taking place at the University of Cologne on that day was known but not intentional. And no-one would have believed that she would accept our invitation to come by before her lecture. But none of us had known either that she and Catharine Stimpson have been friends for many years. When Judith Butler stopped by, she left behind not just signed books and photographs but also a smile on all our faces.



The Welcome Reception was an excellent start to the workshop.

Participant, quoted from the anonymised evaluation conducted by EURAXESS


Welcome address and first presentations took place at the MPI for Biology of Ageing Photo: Welcome Centre, UoC


Welcome Addresses and Presentations

Photo: Welcome Centre, UoC

Professor Dr. Gudrun Gersmann, Vice-Rector for International Affairs of UoC: "In view of the institutions from which the participants of this workshop originate, it seemed absolutely natural to seek an alliance with one of the Max Planck institutes in Cologne and include the perspective of non-university research institutions (…) The focus over the next two days in the framework of this event will be on the theme of international research careers (…) I am pleased that you too are devoting yourself in your circles to this overarching and cross-cutting topic and contributing to sharpening awareness towards the target group of early-career researchers."

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  • From left to right: Katrin Schaarschmidt (EURAXESS Germany, DLR Project Management Agency) also welcomed the participants. Dr. Johannes Müller (Welcome Centre, UoC) chaired the event and the first presentations were given by Constanze Probst (German Rectors’ Conference) and Dr. Isabelle Halleux (Université de Liège) – Career Development for International Researchers. Photo: Welcome Centre, UoC Photo:Welcome Centre, UoC
  • Helen Antebi (MPI Biology of Ageing) Photo: Welcome Centre, UoC Photo:Welcome Centre, UoC
  • Salvatore Angilletta (MPI Biology of Ageing)

In line with the tradition of the EURAXESS conferences for researcher advisors, external speakers put the participants in the mood for the core themes of the workshops with keynote speeches and in this way paved the way for discussion in separate workshops later in the day. 

The first lectures were given by Constanze Probst (German Rectors’ Conference): International Researchers in Germany. Results of the MIND Report, and Dr. Isabelle Halleux (Université de Liège): Career Development for International Researchers (see Picture 1). Helen Antebi and Salvatore Angiletta (MPI Biology of Ageing) reported on Career Support at the MPI Biology of Ageing (see Picture 2 and 3).

That presentations and workshops not only took place in the Main Building and the Student Service Center of UoC but also at the Max Planck Institute for Biology of Ageing was no coincidence. For the Welcome Centre, it was important to build a bridge to non-university research institutions in terms of content too. The UoC works closely with four Max Planck institutes located nearby (Biology of Ageing, Metabolism Research, Plant Breeding Research, Study of Societies) as well as with two Helmholtz centres in the region (German Aerospace Center and Jülich Research Centre).

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  • Arrival at the MPI Photo:Albert's International Assistance
  • Max Planck Institute for Biology of Ageing Photo:Albert's International Assistance
  • Max Planck Institute for Biology of Ageing Photo:Albert's International Assistance
  • Max Planck Institute for Biology of Ageing Photo:Albert's International Assistance
  • Max Planck Institute for Biology of Ageing Photo:Albert's International Assistance
  • Max Planck Institute for Biology of Ageing Photo:Albert's International Assistance
  • Max Planck Institute for Biology of Ageing Photo:Albert's International Assistance
  • Max Planck Institute for Biology of Ageing Photo:Albert's International Assistance
  • Max Planck Institute for Biology of Ageing Photo:Albert's International Assistance



I was particularly impressed by Professor Stimpson of Scholars at Risk.

Participant, quoted from the anonymised evaluation conducted by EURAXESS


Flight, Laughter, Realities and Poetry down in the Brewery

One of the highlights of the workshop was the evening event in Heller’s Brewery. To be more precise: the after-dinner speech given by Catharine Stimpson and Fayyaz Baqir, a researcher who fled from Pakistan.

The two of them held a humorous and at the same time emotional conversation dedicated to the story of Professor Baqir’s life and his personal flight from Pakistan. He then read out three very moving poems which he composed during his time in exile

The group then enjoyed hot apple strudel with vanilla sauce (although it was 35°C outside) and spent a jovial time together until late into the evening. And didn’t talk just about work!

Fotos: Welcome Centre, UoC


Catharine R. Stimpson

I am very grateful for the invitation to have visited Cologne.  It is such a historic and culturally rich city, and I admired the agonizing honesty of El De: The NS Documentation Centre of the city of Cologne. The ancient University is thriving, and I had the added privilege of meeting people from a variety of academic institutions. Their international perspectives and their determination to help scholars at risk was inspiring.

Catharine R. Stimpson, New York University, Scholars at Risk

Pinboard Sessions – From Odd to Scandalous

The everyday work of researcher advisors is anything but dull. Quite often there are tricky cases where the question pops up: “What on earth should we do now?” For other questions, certain routines have perhaps already been developed or exactly the right contacts found. However, the researcher advisors again and again have good reason to tear out their hair at red tape or other unbelievable things. And the next oddity is often just around the corner. 

An instrument which was used between the lectures and workshops to compare notes on such experiences and questions was the Pinboard Sessions: The participants were already asked when they registered to submit contributions, which could then be read on the pinboards during the coffee breaks, for example. There were five categories:


  • “What now?” – Examples of difficult cases or problems
  • “That’s how!” – Best practice models to solve typical problems, suitable for “newbies” to the Welcome Centre business too
  • “Pass it on!” – Information on topics which might interest others (websites, potential cooperation partners, legal loopholes, publications etc.)
  • “Scandalous!” – Grave problems with departments, administrative bodies, and authorities
  • “Odd!” – An amusing story from your everyday Welcome Centre work  


All contributions are available here.

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The Workshops – Everyday Practice and Concepts for the Future


Dr. Johannes Müller

How nice that we were able to bring so many network colleagues to share their experience with each other in the workshops. In that way, we could all move forward together from lots of good ideas to concrete action.

Dr. Johannes Müller, Head of the International Science Department, International Office, UoC


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  • Photo:Welcome Centre, UoC
  • Photo:Welcome Centre, UoC
  • Photo:Welcome Centre, UoC
  • Photo:Welcome Centre, UoC
  • Photo:Welcome Cenre, UoC
  • Photo:Welcome Centre, UoC
  • Photo:Welcome Centre, UoC
  • Photo:Welcome Centre, UoC
  • Photo:Welcome Centre, UoC

The search for established best practice examples for the selected topics proved to be difficult, so that some of the workshops staged at the UoC and the Max Planck Institute for Biology of Ageing were – in the best sense of the word and as to be expected - think tanks rather than practice-oriented seminars. 

Other workshops picked up on current debates and political themes of the day, such as the integration of scholars at risk and the implementation of EU recommendations, such as “Charter and Code”.


As a consequence, the participants looked beyond the Welcome Centre’s own nose yet without losing sight of their own field of expertise. The result was an interesting mix of practical problems, theoretical challenges, and suggestions for concrete solutions:

  • Intercultural Training for International Researchers in Germany
    Stephanie Kaplinowski (Ruhr University, Bochum) | Dr. Iris Wangermann (Intercultural Trainer, Cologne) | Thorsten Parchent (University of Bayreuth) | Victoria Busch (University of Cologne)
  • Career Support for International Researchers
    Dr. Petra Roth (Karlsruhe Institute of Technology) | Lisa Hübner (University of Cologne) | Dr. Johannes Müller (University of Cologne)
  • Internationalization of Research Careers
    Dr. Céline Hönl/Dr. Juliane Schmid (Cluster of Excellence on Plant Sciences) University of Cologne + Heinrich Heine University Düsseldorf) | Dr. Pamela Hartmann (University of Cologne)
  • IT and Databases in the Welcome Centre
    Kirsten Sonnenschein (University of Tübingen) | Carolin Wall (EDP specialist, University of Cologne) | Friederike Heuck (University of Cologne)
  • The HRS4R Process. Field Reports
    Elena Martins (Cologne University of Applied Sciences) | Elke Karrenberg (Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz) | Dr. Pamela Hartmann (University of Cologne) 

The European Commission is calling for research institutions to formulate a “Human Resources Strategy for Researchers” (HRS4R). There are meanwhile clear signals from the European Commission that the HRS4R logo awarded by the European Commission after assessment will increase in importance with regard to EU project proposals and even become mandatory. The University of Cologne began work in April on the development of a Human Resources Strategy for Researchers. Cologne University of Applied Sciences is one of the first institutions in Germany which has already been awarded the logo. Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz received the logo in the spring of 2016. More information can be found here.


  • Identification and Integration of Scholars at Risk
    Prof. Catharine Stimpson (New York University/SAR), | Nadine Dreyer (University of Göttingen) | Dr. Johannes Müller (University of Cologne)
  • From Welcome Centre to Career Network in Support of Research: Researcher Alumni and their Contribution to Internationalization
    Christin Wannagat (RWTH Aachen University) | Frank Hasenstab (University of Cologne)