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The epigenetics@HMGU retreat

This year the second edition of the epigenetics@HMGU retreat took place. This is a two-day retreat which is organized by and for students and Postdocs of the epigenetics@HMGU community near the beautiful Ammersee. This Year’s retreat committee consisted of the following organizers: Johann Hawe, Tjasa Lepko, Christopher Breunig, Xiang Zhang and Sophie Beer.

As a participant I really enjoyed the retreat. I got to know new people and enjoyed both the scientific and the non-scientific content. Also, I was eager to learn more about what motivated the organizers of this year’s retreat.

When talking to the members of the committee I found a group of very talented and motivated young individuals. They drew their motivation and inspiration for the content of the retreat from different sources, ranging from being inspired by other student-organized events to wanting to improve their teamwork and the organization skills. One thing they all had in common, was that they were really looking forward to the social aspects – the networking – which was also part of the agenda of this retreat.  

‘After becoming familiar with the task at hand the roles were quickly divided and collaboration came natural’, said Johann and Sophie. All agree they formed a good team and ‘new friendships were formed’, added Christopher.

During the organizing process all organizers experienced personal growth, especially in self-confidence and communications skills. ‘Organizing the retreat also got me thinking about potential new career paths’ mentioned Sophie.

When asked about the most and least successful aspects of the retreat all members agreed that the entire retreat went very well and the few minor problems that did occur were solved quickly and efficiently. Johann especially appreciated the presentations of projects that were collaborations between students of different labs. Sophie and Johann both agreed that it would be nice to include an outdoor activity in future retreats.

When I asked the organizers what advice they would give future organizers of the retreat, the reply was simple: ‘keep a good balance between scientific and non-scientific content’, said Sophie, ‘do not hesitate to ask previous organizers for advice’, added Christopher and ‘have fun during the whole process’ concluded both Christopher and Xiang. ‘Oh, and do not forget to have coffee available during the registration on the first day of the retreat!’, said Xiang.

Finally, to anyone interested in organizing a future retreat there is only one more thing to say: ‘Just do it!’ ‘The epigenetics@HMGU community is one of the best you will ever find, enjoy what you can do and learn!’ advises Christopher.

I definitely look forward to another retreat in 2019 and believe it will offer great opportunities for PhD students Postdocs and Group Leaders from different institutes to network, exchange ideas and learn from each other.

By: Wouter Koolhaas, based on an interview with the organizing committee

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