Information for Postdocs

I did my PhD in the US at the University of Maryland, working in the former group of Professor Buonanno on the problem of modeling gravitational waves emitted by binary black holes. The very existence of such systems was not established at the time. In the group there was a lot of anticipation for the advent of advanced LIGO, and we were all fervently trying to be ready for the beginning of LIGO operations.

Now, I work at the AEI in Potsdam and my models are used both to confirm the detection of gravitational waves and to measure the physical properties of the source. It still feels somewhat incredible…

Andrea Taracchini, postdoctoral scholar at the Max Planck Institute for Gravitational Physics (Albert Einstein Institute /AEI)

Astrophysical research in Potsdam

Potsdam is one of the four major sites of astrophysical research in Germany. Three leading international research institutions are linked to the University. It stands out by a wide range of research topics both in observational and in theoretical astrophysics. Research activities at the Leibniz Institute for Astrophysics Potsdam (AIP) and at the university range from solar and stellar physics to extragalactic astrophysics and cosmology. DESY (Deutsches Elektronen-Synchrotron) in Zeuthen hosts research groups that explore problems of astroparticle physics. Research at the Max Planck Institute for Gravitational Physics (Albert Einstein Institute / AEI) focuses on the analytical calculation and on the numerical modeling of gravitational wave forms.

The four institutions are involved in a variety of international astronomical telescope projects and represent German Astrophysics in professional associations and in national and international bodies.

 

Career pathways for Postdocs

The high density and the excellent international reputation of the scientific institutions in Potsdam — both inside and outside of astrophysics — make the city a launch pad for young researchers who are seeking an academic career. Potsdam’s scientists are very successful in raising third-party funds and in achieving top positions in international publication rankings. The excellent career opportunities in astrophysics are also reflected by the establishment of 15 ordinary, joint, associate and honorary professorships in Astrophysics at the University of Potsdam. Furthermore, 21 research institutions have joined forces with the University of Potsdam in the interdisciplinary Potsdam Research Network. This facilitates career moves across disciplines and dual career options become possible and are being actively supported.

The University of Potsdam has developed its own tenure track model. It represents a staged career system for the reappointment of W2 or W3 professorships, which is oriented towards a personnel development for early-stage researchers and connected to a holistic professional development strategy. The tenure track model is intended to be a key component of the future appointment strategy of the University of Potsdam.

The interdisciplinary initiative High Potentials — Academy for Postdoctoral Career Development of the Potsdam Graduate School supports the career development of postdocs and junior professors of all disciplines. It offers the opportunity to complement scientific skills with additional qualifications to prepare for job positions both inside and outside of academia. For newly appointed professors a service center at the university informs about dual career opportunities, appointment regulations and recruitment procedures as well as salary scales.

 

Work & Life in Potsdam

Potsdam has an active scientist community. In no other German city there are more scientists per capita than in Potsdam. Altogether, more than 40 scientific institutions with more than 10,000 employees are based in Potsdam and the surrounding area. In addition, more than 20,000 students of the University form a vibrant part of the city’s atmosphere. Specific networks  link science with culture, business, tourism and education.

Potsdam is a UNESCO World Heritage city characterized by its Prussian palaces and gardens next to idyllic Havel lakes. The city’s historical development reaches back as far as 1,000 years and has had influence on the whole of Germany. Potsdam nowadays has a lively arts scene, theater scene, and music scene and features a center of international film in the Babelsberg Film Studios. It also offers a diversity of leisure activities for families and children. The many parks and lakes invite to outdoor activities. Potsdam is in the immediate vicinity of the German capital Berlin and very well connected through regional public transportation.

 

Entrepreneurship and transfer

Start-ups from science as well as knowledge and technology transfer make an important contribution to social prosperity. Potsdam hosts many excellent supporting institutions for these transfer processes. Starting with the Center for Entrepreneurship and Transfer of the university, which provides support for start-ups and spin-offs via the non-profit subsidiary of the “UP Transfer GmbH” to the pure market economy oriented “GO:INcubator GmbH” in Golm there are a number of specialized institutions that support innovative business approaches. Multiple awards confirm this successful structure in Potsdam.

 

Research Infra­structure

Potsdam’s involvement in large observatories; technological and computing resources, campus, and services. >