The European Ceramic Society

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Apr 17, 2024

YCN Newsletter 21 - Interview of Dr. Stefan Pfeiffer

Interview of Dr. Stefan Pfeiffer Managing Director of the Deutsche Keramische Gesellschaft (DKG) and former YCN representative

1. How do you perceive the role of organizations like YCN in fostering connections and opportunities for young researchers in the field of ceramics?

The YCN offers a great opportunity to exchange research ideas and challenges with other young ceramists around the world. The visibility of young ceramists in the ceramic world is also strongly promoted by organizations such as the YCN, which gives them a voice. Personally, I have built deep relationships with other young scientists through the numerous events organized by the YCN.

2. As a representative of YCN, how has your experience and involvement with the network prepared you for your current position as Managing Director of the Deutsche Keramische Gesellschaft (DKG)?

Through my experience as a YCN representative, I gained visibility in the ceramic world and I learned how to network. As a result, I learned not only the ability to make new contacts, but also to maintain existing contacts, which is an important point in my new job as Managing Director of the DKG. I was able to establish many contacts with ceramists in industry and academia. These relationships are now a great help for my current job as Managing Director of the DKG. Additionally, the great collaborations by the YCN gave me an idea of ​​how the involvement of young ceramists can be beneficial for associations.

3. Can you share with us your vision for the development of DKG and its involvement with young German researchers?

As the new Managing Director, it is personally very important to me to further strengthen the symbiosis between industry and university research. Furthermore, I will focus on topics such as a DKG patent exchange (listing patents or patent applications from universities, if desired by them), an open access publication exchange (linking open access publications from universities) and the preparation of an “applications” conference in 2025 with an ideation competition for joint projects between universities and industry in order to facilitate and intensify exchange from both sides. The “applications” conference will promote young German ceramists in creating new research projects for PhDs or Postdocs. Another vision is to promote the networking of young German ceramists among each other, as well as promote an international exchange between young German ceramists and young international ceramists.

4. What specific strategies do you plan to enhance DKG's engagement with young researchers in Germany?

In the near future, I would like to intensify the support of young German researchers with their job searches by using the network of the DKG. Another goal for me is, that young German ceramists get their own DKG organized channels in which they can exchange ideas. e.g. a newsletter or social media channels. The Ceramics 2024 in Höhr-Grenzhausen Ceramics 2024 represents a great opportunity to promote these plans, as a large proportion of participants consist of students and graduate students. An information event is planned at this conference.

5. What initiatives or programs do you believe could further bridge the gap between DKG and young researchers, leveraging the networks and resources available through organizations like YCN?

An international joint workshop could be, for example, carried out in Germany and organized by the DKG and international organizations like YCN to further bridge the gap between DKG and young researchers. The aim would be to promote discussions about current research problems and the search for international collaborations. If there are excellent ideas, the DKG could act as an intermediary to its company members in order to generate funding for the projects.

A summer school in Germany for international and German participants on current ceramic topics would also be a good way to strengthen the DKG's connection to young researchers.

Moreover, a goal could be to organize a joint event at the ECerS Conference 2025 in Dresden together with the YCN, such as a “Get together” or a Young Scientist Career Fair with lectures from German companies.

Another chance to bridge the gap is given by the “applications” conference, where young researchers can directly introduce their ideas in competition as potential joint projects between universities and industry in order to facilitate and intensify the exchange for both sides.

6. How do you plan to address any potential challenges or barriers to collaboration between DKG and young researchers, and what role do you see YCN playing in overcoming these challenges?

The organization of the DKG's young ceramists network could be structured in a similar way to the YCN with a committee that meets regularly and makes decisions independently with the help of the DKG management and experienced scientists as advisors. The German YCN representative could be included in the regular meetings and act also as an advisor.

7. What steps do you envision taking to ensure that DKG remains agile and responsive to the evolving needs and aspirations of young researchers in Germany?

The DKG will keep up to date with the latest developments in ceramics. This is being done through numerous events organized by expert committees within the DKG or in collaboration with other societies. The aim here is to mediate between industry and academia to fulfil the needs of both sides. These events covers process topics such as raw materials, thermal processing, post-processing, characterisation as well as current research trends like ceramics for energy, electrical, sensor or aerospace applications. Additionally, the DKG organizes international events such as every year the “Keramik” conference or the “Freiberger Feuerfest-Symposium”, where current ceramic research topics are discussed with industry and academic representatives. The participation in these events is possible for members of the DKG youth network at a reduced price or, very often, free of charge. A membership in the DKG youth network is free for students.

8. Lastly, how do you plan to communicate and promote the opportunities for young researchers to get involved with DKG, and how can organizations like YCN support these efforts

The communication and promotion of opportunities for young researchers to get involved with DKG is an important topic. In the future, the DKG plans to publish opportunities for young researchers within the DKG in their newly started social media channels, the DKG website and the DKG newsletter. As already mentioned before, it is also planned that young German ceramists will get their own social media channels or newsletters, in which opportunities can be communicated or promoted. Furthermore, we are planning to revive the virtual or on-site meetings of the DKG young ceramists that took place in the past. The YCN, with its numerous young members, including German members, could help with advertising on its channels (social media or newsletter), which would significantly accelerate these efforts.

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