Prof. Santra with the winners of the PIER PhD positions: Nicole Stefanov, Anne Creon, Oliver Schmutzler, Jonas Wittbrodt and Matteo Defranchis. Not on the picture: Milad Behrooz.

This year's PIER PhD reception took place on 1 December in the foyer of Hamburg's Center for Free-Electron Laser Science.

More than 100 PhD students, their supervisors, friends and relatives, and staff from both DESY and Universität Hamburg attended this year's reception to welcome all new PhD students, to honour the graduates of the PHGS and to celebrate the six winners of the PIER PhD positions.

A little bit of magic - and lots of fun

The reception was hosted by Thomas Fraps, a trained physicist and magician. He told the audience: "Reality is commonly overrated - tonight you'll see it corrected!"

And down to business Mr Fraps went with his highly entertaining show: He let objects appear and disappear out of the blue, discovered a giant Higgs boson, connected a PhD student to his infamous "Brain App" to read his thoughts, and cracked jokes that made the audience cry with laughter.

One of the most exciting places in the world to do science

In their welcome addresses, Prof. Joachim Mnich from the DESY Board of Directors and Prof. Ingenuin Gasser, Vice Dean of the MIN faculty of Hamburg University emphasized the importance of the PHGS in the education of our young researchers from all over the world. "What makes the school unique, in my view, is the broad spectrum of research it covers. It really works as a kind of umbrella structure for the various research fields here on campus", Prof. Mnich said.

Prof. Robin Santra, spokesperson of the PHGS, then highlighted the rapid growth of the school since its foundation in 2013: "In the beginning, we only had about 30 registered members. This number has increased in only three years to over 230 registered PhD students, of which more than 60 percent are international. I think this reflects both the success of the school, and the growing attractiveness of the city of Hamburg", Prof. Santra said, and then welcomed the new PhD students, among which six were awarded with one of this year's PIER PhD positions: "You have definitely made the right choice to come here. Our campus is evolving as one of the most exciting places in the world to do science."

Prof. Daniela Pfannkuche, the other spokesperson of the PHGS, then congratulated the graduates of 2016, of which Nele Müller, Julian Schweizer, Zhong Yin and Claude Dürig were present.

The PIER PhD reception ended with the honoring of DOIT (Doktoranden-Initiative), the elected representatives of all PhD students of DESY and Universität Hamburg, whose commitment, innumerous activities and positive attitude are an invaluable element of the PHGS.

We would particularly like to thank the "band with no name", which played a number of lively and jazzy songs and added a wonderful touch to the reception.

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Some impressions from the PIER PhD Reception 2016 (Photos: Stefanie Tepass)