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GSI International Summer Student Program: History

40 years: Summer Student Program at GSI

Some historical remarks

The forthcoming year we hope to celebrated the 42th program in our series of Summer Student Programs. It all started in 1982. Following suggestions from surrounding universities, it was initiated by the former GSI director Prof. G. zu Putlitz (Uni Heidelberg), and Prof. W. Nörenberg (GSI). In spring 1982 the first 18 students were visiting GSI for 6 weeks. The program was so successful that it was decided to enroll a second group from the first list of 150 applicants for a second program during the same year for 8 weeks during the summer break. Ever since the student program takes place in August/September.

The main structure was already set up in those days. Every student joins one of the research groups and works there on a confined study project. The program is accompanied by a series of lectures which introduce into in the various research branches at our laboratory. Students stayed in our guest rooms in Wixhausen, the so called barracks. In 2008 the barracks were closed and from then on the summer students stayed in hotels in Arheilgen. There is a welcome party and so far we always successfully suggested to the students to organise a barbecue party to which they invite their tutors and lecturers. Initially the program had an open end after the sixth week. The Darmstadt rally initiated and worked out by H. Nienstädt and the visit of Merck were parts of the program right from the beginning. Five years later the organisation was passed over from W. Nörenberg to Jörn Knoll, who is still engaged in organizing the program. Secretaries of the program were initially Elsbeth Rass until 2000 , followed by Heide Rinnert until 2009, followed by Marina Nymphius. Now the present secretary of the Theory Group, Gabriela Menge, is in charge of this position. With the foundation of GSI's Graduate School HGS-HIRe, responsible for the training and education of students at GSI and its partner universities, the Summer Student Program became a program component of the graduate school in spring 2010.

Due to mutual interests of students and of the research groups, the number of participants increased steadily over the past years with now an admittance of about 35 to 40 students. Initially only German students were our guests with some intruders, e.g. from Poland due to a collaboration. With the unification first East-German students from East-Berlin, Dresden, Rostock and Jena participated. In 1993 our former director H. Specht opened the program to the international community. The language of the program from then on has been English. Since then we had students from more than 40 different countries from West and East, including places such as Armenia or Palestine and recently from Asia, Africa and North, Middle and South America. Also the number of women among the participants increased.

The international mixture has always been well received among the students. They are curious about the life, the studies and culture of the different countries, and friendships and groups were formed across the nations already in the first weeks. In particular the Grill party, organised by the students, initiates joint actions for the preparation of of salads and delicacies from the students' home countries, for live presentations with guitar concerts, songs and merry dancing during the party. The weekends are frequently used for excursions by bike (now provided by the institute) or taking advantage of the weekend offers of the German train system with trips to Köln, Frankfurt, Heidelberg or Freiburg. In 1999 an excursion to Weingarten (near Karlsruhe) was organised to watch the total solar eclipse; however a big cloud prevented this in the last moment!

After an introduction phase in the first weeks the participants quickly take up their work and are actively contributing to their projects. In the sixth week real action comes up, because they are going to write their reports about the project, about 4 pages are suggested. In the last twenty years the reports were written in Latex and compiled together into one pdf-document, printed by the GSI printing office, such that each participant can take home a copy of this journal. In addition they organise a seminar, where in a 20 min talk each student presents the results of his/her project. These activities are now supported by corresponding soft skill training sessions in scientific writing and presentations.

Every year a few students keep on with their subject and return to GSI for their Diploma or master work or later for their PhD thesis. Presently more than 25 former participants of the last 6 years' Student Programs work as PhD-student or post-doc here at GSI. A few of them started their research career with the program as for instance N. Hermann, participant of the second program in 1982, who is now professor in Heidelberg.

During the years 2004 and 2005 the program was supported by INTAS, an INTernational ASsociation formed by the European Union to support young scientists from the New Independent States (NIS) of the former Soviet Union. In 2009 the program was supported in part by the Helmholtz Graduate School for Hadron and Ion Research (HGS HIRe for FAIR), the PhD forum of German Universities collaborating with GSI/FAIR. From spring 2010 on the Summer Student Program is integrated into the education canon of HGS-HIRe.

Participants' countries of origin:
Armenia, Austria, Belo Russia, Belgium, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Brazil, Bulgaria, Cameroon, China, Columbia, Croatia, Czech Republic, Denmark, Egypt, England, Estonia, Germany, Greece, Philippine, Finland, France, Hungary, India, Ireland, Italy, Jordan, Japan, Kazakhstan, Korea, Mexico, Mongolia, Montenegro, the Netherlands, Palestine, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Russia, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, Serbia, Singapore, Slovakia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Thailand, Turkey, United Kingdom, USA, Ukraine.

Updated, July 2019, Jörn Knoll

International Summer Student Programs at GSI-FAIR

    Historical Notes

Summer Students in the
GSI-FAIR blog: "Beam On"

Mail Adress:
    Summer Student Program
    Planckstr. 1
    64291 Darmstadt
Phone:+49 6159 71 2746
Organizers (GSI/ FAIR): Ralf Averbeck, Arnaud Le Fèvre, Yvonne Leifels, Haik Simon, Jörn Knoll
Secretary: Gabriela Menge
Graduate School: Henner Büsching, Gerhard Burau
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