Living Internationality – Research Groups at KIT: Insights by hosts

Panel Discussion with scientific hosts closing International Days

Sharing their insights as hosts with the audience, four panelists have brought the International Days at KIT to an inspiring end. Professor Annie Powell (Institute for Inorganic Chemistry), Professor Britta Nestler (Computational Materials Science), Professor Peter Nick (Molecular Cell Biology) and Prof. Dr. Manfred Wilhelm (Institute for Technical Chemistry and Polymer Chemistry) described their experiences as hosts and how they live the internationality in their groups. The audience learnt about their expectations and the challenges they face and how they manage to establish an inspiring working environment in groups composed of a great diversity of personalities and cultural backgrounds - not only in terms of nationalities but also of disciplines and working approaches.



“The commitment and dedication of hosts is of utmost importance not only for personal and institutional success but, too, for how internationality is perceived and lived at KIT”, said Dr. Petra Roth, Head of International Scholars and Welcome Office, who moderated the session. “Their contribution is highly valued in our institution.”


Manfred Wilhelm introduced the Research training Group of the Collaborative Research Centre "Molecular Structuring of Soft Matter", funded by the DFG.  It is of special concern to him to allow for the combination of top-level research and training of young researchers with the dedication to a [young] family. Clear announcements of mutual expectancies and frank communication are indispensable to him.

Britta Nestler underlined the importance of well-run international fellowship programs. Her recommendation to young researchers seeking for hosts when applying for stipends or positions is to invest enough time in identifying a suitable institute and to rely on fewer but deliberate and significant mails to utter their request. Otherwise their mailing might be easily overlooked.


To Annie Powell it is important to bear in mind also the human dimension besides intercultural divergencies when it comes to successfully leading an international research group. Personality and individual hopes and fears are strong determinants with a strong impact on how people will work and perform.


Peter Nick sees as one of a host´s main responsibilities the facilitation of chances. The backgrounds and starting conditions of young researchers might vary tremendously. The task – and opportunity- for hosts is to identify and foster high potentials even if at a first sight a candidate´s profile might seem less competitive.


The panelists agreed upon the vision that science and international collaboration of researchers is a most significant force and also a chance to overcome barriers and promoting international understanding.