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Helmholtz Research School
Mechanisms and Interactions of Climate Change in Mountain Regions

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One of the core elements of MICMoR’s graduate concept is the mentoring process. Ideally, fellows benefit from the extensive experience of their supervisors and mentors and receive hands-on research- and career training; on the other side supervisors and mentors gain access to the highly trained and productive minds of the Fellows as research assistants and generators of novel ideas, and receive opportunities for recruiting the next generation of scientists for their own research groups.

Thesis Advisory Committee

The MICMoR graduate concept envisions an individual Thesis Advisory Committee (TAC) for each PhD Fellow consisting of one main supervisor (i.e. the committee chair, ideally from one of the MICMoR partner institutions) and two additional mentors. The mentors can either be senior / junior scientists or postdocs from the same or from another partner institution, however, the mentors can also be affiliated to a foreign research institution. The research expertise of the three TAC members will reflect the thematic range of the dissertation project, which is ideally oriented towards interdisciplinarity (A-B-P/H- context). Consequently, committee members come from different disciplines and might have different institutional affiliations.

When applying for a fellowship, the PhD candidate will ideally have a main supervisor at the university where he/she is enrolled, this university ideally being a MICMoR partner institution. The fellow can suggest two additional mentors for the TAC. The main supervisor will appoint the TAC in consultation with the Steering Committee and report to the Coordination Office.

Over the course of his PhD work, the MICMoR Fellow will meet regularly with his/her personal TAC. Prior to the first meeting (no later than three months after the start of the MICMoR fellowship), the fellow and the committee chair will discuss and write a short PhD outline including title, aim and research plan (with schedule), which will be presented to the TAC and put out for discussion. In the following, the MICMoR Fellow will meet his/her TAC at least twice a year to review the progress of his/her PhD work and discuss the road map towards completion. After each Fellow/TAC meeting, the committee chair will supply a brief report on the results of the meeting to the Steering Committee through the Coordination Office. Within the first year the fellow will prepare a more detailed research plan and present this to the TAC, and possibly to the MICMoR community in oral form during a Research Forum. After the second year the fellow will present first results and a plan for the remaining work (written and oral). All documents and presentations need to be submitted to the MICMoR Coordination Office.
As a rule, MICMoR Fellows will submit their thesis to the university they are enrolled at and the committee chair is affiliated to, and the other two members of the TAC will serve as PhD thesis examiners depending on university regulations.

As scientists are not necessarily born to be good supervisors and mentors, they have to be trained and supported from an early stage. Thus, mentor coaching is an important component of our graduate programme and will encourage supervisors and mentors to, e.g. reflect their personal role and responsibility in the mentoring process, explore opportunities and limitations of mentoring, train communication skills and social competency and sensitize for conflict situations and become equipped with tools for conflict resolution. The MICMoR Coordination Office will organise professionally led mentor coaching workshops for MICMoR scientists.

Besides mentoring through a TAC, mentoring through peer fellows (i.e. older PhD students) will also be an important component in MICMoR’s Research School. As already mentioned under Mentor Coaching, scientists have to be trained from an early age to acquire important skills such as e.g. leadership qualities.