The integrated Research Training Group “Polymers: random coils and beyond”

Obtain a doctorate in polymer science within the integrated Research Training Group “Polymers: random coils and beyond”

From 2012 to 2023, doctoral students from Halle and Leipzig universities have been actively collaborating in polymer research. This field is interdisciplinary and brings together students from physics, chemistry and materials science in an integrated graduate program. The graduate program provided in-depth training in interdisciplinary soft matter research. This included the design and preparation of specific materials, their characterization, and their theoretical understanding. A thorough command of the basic principles of chemistry, physics and engineering of polymers and soft matter were the aims of the training within our graduate school. All students worked closely with a supervisor and met a mentor regularly. In addition to the development of a broad background in polymer science, the acquisition of transferable skills was an important goal of the course program.

Research on synthetic and biological polymers

Polymer research in the graduate school investigated the aggregation MLUHW_Physik_Polymer_0171phenomena of proteins and the behaviour of lipid membranes in the field of biopolymers. For synthetic polymers, crystallization and self-healing concepts were in the focus. Doctoral students conducted their interdisciplinary studies and were closely connected with other groups in this wide range of polymer topics.

Scientific exchange and collaboration

More than 60 (full-time and 80 including part-time)doctoral students were interconnected through our graduate school. Common projects and mutual support (e.g., by having measurements made in other research groups and by seminars) led to active exchange. Highlights were advanced training modules of two full days introducing selected research methods. In addition, the faculty offered lectures on several polymer topics and lecture series by international guest researchers.

As well as fostering scientific education, the program supported doctoral students in developing their transferable skills, such as writing publications and giving persuasive talks. Students discussed their scientific progress and current research activities   during regular meetings with supervisor and mentor. The English language was the common basis for communication within the graduate school.

A diverse research field

Our graduate school comprised the expertise of more than 15 leading scientists in polymer research in Halle (Saale) and Leipzig. They came from the fields of Polymer and Soft Matter Physics as well as Polymer Chemistry. This high number of working groups enabled the rapid exchange of ideas and highly interdisciplinary research. Research was carried out in the individual groups. Doctoral student work combined experimental investigations in the lab with desk-based theoretical modeling and data analysis. In Theoretical Physics and Chemistry the experiments were carried out on large computer clusters. Funding was mostly provided through grants by the German Research Foundation “Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft” (DFG).
The Integrated Research Training Group “Polymers: random coils and beyond” was a graduate school and part of, but in its scope not limited to, the transregional Collaborative Research Center SFB/TRR 102 funded by DFG. The graduate school was a common initiative of the Martin Luther University Halle-Wittenberg (MLU) and Leipzig University (UL). The Fraunhofer Institute for Microstructure of Materials and Systems (Halle), the Leibniz Institute for Surface Modification (Leipzig) and Max Planck Institute for Colloids and Interfaces (MPIKG) in Potsdam/Golm also participated in the graduate school.

The integrated Research Training Group is a member of the International Graduate Academy Halle (InGrA) and the Research Academy Leipzig (RAL).