Initiative Network News

Interview with the PostdocNet

Our current Spokesperson, Marta Porniece-Kumar, was recently interviewed for the MPG-wide Career Development newsletter. You can check out the interview here.

Network News Work groups

New Online Seminar Series

New IDEA seminar series: Inclusion, Diversity, Equality, and Awareness

The PostdocNet Equality and Diversity working group hosts a monthly seminar and discussion series on topics relating to equal opportunity and diversity, within the postdoctoral community and beyond.

Find more information about the seminar series here, and learn more about the Equality and Diversity working group here.


Save the date: Max Planck PostdocNet Virtual General Meeting, October 7th-9th 2020

We are delighted to invite you to attend the General Meeting of Max Planck PostdocNet. It will be held virtually each day on the 7th to 9th Oct 2020, between 9:30am – 12:30pm.

If last year was about laying the foundation of PostdocNet, this year we have planned for you an exciting program which includes: a review of the past year’s progress/achievements, presentations from expert speakers who may be able to provide insight into postdoctoral issues and the election of a new steering group to take the PostdocNet forward over the next year. Furthermore, we have scheduled discussions with our working groups aiming to improve the Max Planck postdoctoral community and foster debate. This meeting is a unique opportunity for you to exchange ideas, share experiences/challenges and get to know other postdocs from all over Max Planck institutes. 

More information regarding the program and registration will follow but please save the date! If you have any further questions, please do not hesitate to contact us:

 We are looking forward to welcoming all of our old and new members this coming October 2020!

Yours, PostdocNet

Nota Bene:

·       You will need a stable internet connection, and at best a PC/laptop equipped with camera and microphone to gain the most out of this meeting.

·       Only if you are registered you will get access to the link for the event.

·       During the general meeting we will run elections. Please be aware that each institute has only one vote by one delegated individual (an officially elected PostdocNet representative automatically fulfils this role of delegated individual).

·       We will vote on the Statutes of the PostdocNet. All amendments will be sent around two weeks before the event. If you have any contributions until then please drop an email to the secretary group:

Initiative Network

PostdocNet ZOOM Conference

SAVE THE DATE!!! – 9th JUNE (15:00)

In light of the continued postponement of the PostdocNet annual general meeting (tba) and as an update to our previous conference call, the PostdocNet Steering Group welcomes you to attend a conference zoom call with us.

We can summarise this in the following discussion topics:

1) Update on the coronavirus situation
2) Update on current actions of PostdocNet Steering Group and Working Groups 
3) Update on PostdocNet Annual General meeting 
4) Questions/AOB

We would like to also use this chance to inform you that the current PostdocNet Steering Group will finish its terms as soon as we can organise a general meeting and elections. We need new Steering Group members!If you are keen to be part of the future Steering group, don’t hesitate to grab the occasion to ask us what being steering group member entails. Otherwise, feel free to contact us ay any time. 

You can contact us via for more information.

Best wishes, and hope to speak to you soon!

PostdocNet Steering Group

Initiative Network

MPG Collective TeaTime

To all MPG-affiliates,

The Mental Health Collective of the Max-Planck-Gesellschaft invites you to join their Collective TeaTime this Friday at 15:00!

Students, Postdocs, Staff, Faculty, … – any form of MPG affiliation – everyone is welcome!
Social isolation that comes along with the anti-pandemic measures in Germany can be really challenging for the mental and emotional stability, especially for folks stuck in a foreign country. But you are not alone, none of us is. The ollective decided to initiate a Collective TeaTime (inspired by GC4AMH) to share some good vibes, slow down busy minds and simply connect.
Join them for a drop-in virtual tea (or any other hot or cold beverage) this Friday at 15:00! Follow the link and join the meeting to share your ideas, thoughts and worries and discuss it with the others.

Follow them on Twitter:
Inspired by #DragonflyCafe by @GC4AMH


Stay home and save lives

Postdoctoral Scientists of the Max Planck Society have united their #international voices to stop the spread of #Covid_19 #StayHome. We strongly recommend all of us to be responsible, think of others that are putting their lives at risk to save yours and your loved ones!


Postponed – Max Planck PostdocNet General Meeting in Berlin, 6-8 of May, 2020

Due to the development of the situation involving Coronavirus, we decided to postpone the PostdocNet General Meeting at Harnack-Haus, Berlin, 6-8 of May until further notice. We apologise for any inconveniences this decision might cause, but we care for your safety and hope for your understanding. We will come back to you as soon as we have the information regarding the new dates and place.
According to the Statutes of PostdocNet, the current Steering Group will continue performing their tasks until elections will take place at the General Meeting.

Best wishes and stay healthy,

We are delighted to invite you to attend the General Meeting of Max Planck PostdocNet. It will be held at Harnack-Haus, Berlin from 6 to 8 of May, 2020.

If last year was about laying the foundation of PostdocNet, this year we have planned for you an exciting programme. Review of last year achievements, presentations of expert speakers and election of the next steering group are on the programme. This is also a unique opportunity to exchange ideas, share your experience/challenges and meet other postdocs from all over Max Planck institutes. We will further organise the discussions of working groups that will help improving Max Planck postdoctoral community from the inside.

More information regarding the programme, accommodation and registration can be found on the event page: (registration open until 31 of March).

Please take into consideration that only a limited number of accommodations is available at the Harnack Haus and Seminaris Hotel – first comes, first serves. If you have any further questions, please do not hesitate to contact us:

We are looking forward to welcome our old and new members in May 2020 in Berlin!




The story behind the new logo of Max Planck PostdocNet

After about a year of the PostdocNet founding meeting, the Steering Group of PostdocNet has decided to introduce a new logo for its network that keeps the “Max Planck” and “PostdocNet” with bringing a new network symbol. In fact, the new logo itself was shaped by the PostdocNet community which gave great feedback throughout the process, mirroring the best spirit of a support network.

A simple but eye-catching logo reflects spirits of the network

“The PostdocNet is a growing support network for the postdoc community of the Max-Planck-Gesellschaft (MPG) . To represent this interconnectedness, I chose a simple network graph, where links emerge from a central node forming branches that extend outwards,” explains by the logo designer, Bruno Vellutini from the MPI of Molecular Cell Biology and Genetics

Bruno further describes the meanings behind the logo: “The links in the symbol always connect the inner nodes with the peripherical ones, which conveys the idea of an active and growing network. As the network grows, the branches organically interconnect providing stability and support for each other, which symbolizes the cooperative nature of the PostdocNet. In more practical terms, the new logo uses three colours to represent the three central elements: the postdocs (dark grey), the network concept (accent colour in vivid green) and the MPG (light grey).”

A new logo enhances the network identity

“The new logo is aiming to improve the identity of PostdocNet and strengthen the connection between the PostdocNet and the entire postdoc community,” spokesperson of the PostdocNet, Yu-Xuan Lu from the MPI for Biology of Ageing explains.

“Many thanks for all members of Steering Group and Working Groups, as well as postdocs in the community, the PostdocNet has been growing rapidly and has achieved more than I could imagine when we found the network. However, we are also encountering new challenges at the same time.” Yu-Xuan further says: “As the PostdocNet is going to have its ‘1st birthday’, to inform postdocs of initiatives that we are implementing on their behalf and get feedback from them has a high priority. In my view, a new logo that will enhance our identity is a key step towards to this goal.” 


PostdocNet Founding Meeting – Feedback and Perspectives

From the 29 to the 30 of April 2019, the postdoc community of the Max Planck Society (MPS) had their first meeting to launch the PostdocNet. The PostdocNet is a networking and lobbying organization for all postdocs of the MPS.

After this meeting, the postdoctoral community was asked for feedback on this first meeting and for perspectives to guide the organization of future meetings. Here is the summary of this survey conducted from the 29/05/2019 to the 19/06/2019.

1) Demographics of the survey

The survey was sent to the PostdocNet mailing list and at the time of survey closure, about 35% of the postdocs answered it. Incomplete questionnaires were filtered out, yielding a final participation (valid responses) of 30% (figure 1).

Figure 1. All persons registered in the Max Planck Society PostdocNet mailing list at the closure of the survey (19/06/2019), all survey participants, and the ultimately evaluable data sets, in absolute figures.

Among the postdocs, 38.1% were also postdocs representative in their Institute and a majority of answers came from the Biology and Medicine section of the MPS (figure 2).

Figure 2. Overview of the PostdocNet community and to which scientific section do this community belong. “Rep” corresponds to a postdoc that is postdoc representative in their institute. Percentages represent the proportion of respondents who gave the answers given on the y axis. N=63.

2) Concerning the 1st PostdocNet meeting

From the total responders, 38.8% did not attend the meeting (figure 3, top). The main reason was conflicting schedule (figure 3, bottom left). Positively, no one has responded: “My supervisor/institute did not allow me to come” to this question. However, among the 61.9% that attended the meeting, 12% encountered difficulties to obtain a travel financial support (figure 3, bottom right). The majority of people that attended the meeting did not considered Berlin as an unsuitable location, but it was a concern for more than 15% of people that did not join the meeting.

Figure 3. Responses of postdocs with respect to their participation to the founding meeting in percentages (N=63), followed by answers to questions specific to the first response. Percentages represent the proportion of respondents who gave the mentioned answers. N (“No”)=24, N (“Yes”)=39.

More than 85% of the postdocs were satisfied with this 1st meeting (figure 4).

Figure 4. Responses of postdocs with respect to overall satisfaction and the organization of the event as well as the role of internal events to networking. Percentages on the left panel represent the proportion of respondents who answered the relevant questions with “Very satisfied” or “Satisfied”. Percentages on the right panel represent the proportion of respondents who gave the mentioned answers. N=39.

Overall, more than 60% of the postdocs that attended the Founding meeting received enough information prior to the event and found the event well organized. In addition, breaks and breakout sessions facilitated networking between the postdoc community (figure 4, bottom).

The satisfaction was also quite high on the discussed topics, the presentations given by the invited speakers and the smaller group breakout sessions (figure 5, left). The reserved opinion on the evening panel discussion was that half of it was redundant with the next day program. The feedbacks were extremely positive concerning the talks given by the European Network of Postdoc Associations and the Postdoc Representative of Karolinska University. Postdocs appreciated to listen to Prof. Reinhard Jahn especially about the postdoc guidelines of the MPS.

Figure 5. Responses of postdocs with respect to the satisfaction with the mentioned topics. Percentages represent the proportion of respondents who answered the relevant questions with either “Very satisfied” or “Satisfied” in dark green or “Neutral” in light green. N=39.

As general comments, postdocs highlighted the lack of time to discuss more in depth questions like the PostdocNet statutes, future organization of working groups, hot topics concerning postdoc community.

– The time slots were not kept […] the chairs needed to be somewhat ‘stricter’.

– Stay in time

– Everything was great, but the evening session (panel discussion) was too long.

– The second panel, with the speakers of the next day, was unnecessary and redundant.

– Second panel redundant with day 2, as they talked about stuff that they presented the next day.

– Everything on the second day was very rushed, when it was perhaps the most important part!

– Not enough time for the statutes’ discussion.

– There was too little time to discuss the statutes.

– We should have really started discussing the statutes earlier.

– Information about this election should have been advertised beforehand.

– When electing the steering group, I didn’t have any prior information about the candidates, this should have been sent the day before so we make a more informed decision.

This lack of time is reflected in the reserved opinion that postdocs had on the presentation and votes of the PostdocNet statutes as well as the constitution of the different working groups (figure 5, right).

3) Perspectives on future meetings

Concerning the perspectives to give to this 1st meeting, 16% of people that did not attend in 2019 showed interest to come in the future. Only one person that came at the founding meeting said that they will not attend PostdocNet meetings in the future. It is expected that attendance will greatly be dependent on absence of conflicting schedule as well as interest in the proposed program.

The majority of respondents liked the current format of two complete days (figure 6). To be noted, people would appreciate if the end of the meeting allowed an easy 3 to 4 hours trip.

Figure 6. Responses of postdocs with respect to the attendance and format of future PostdocNet meetings. Left panel, percentages represent the proportion of respondents that gave the mentioned answers. Right panel, percentages represent the proportion of respondents who gave the answers mentioned on the right to the respective questions. N=63.

In addition, people stressed the need of time for discussions within the PostdocNet group and concrete “work”:

– I do think we should have some breakout ‘working’ sessions that can actually come out of the PostdocNet meeting with some concrete starting points for initiatives for the year. It’s such a great environment, with so many motivated postdocs in one place, we should actually do some work! Perhaps the talks could be shorter in the morning and a few of these ‘working sessions’ could happen in the evening.

– Maybe one day with reports of the several working groups, the steering committee and other relevant, associated units (like for example the head quarter and the dept. for human development) and one day which is more workshop-like, for example with content about career development (the seminar group could help with that), or mental health, or other stuff like that. Maybe also a slot and format for explicit networking.

– For the next meeting a clearer route for discussion of new working groups and elections should be established.

– Please, give more time for forming the new working groups next time.

– Next time we should plan more time for the meeting of the new forming groups. I am in some of them and it would have been nice to make a very rough work plan already in Berlin.

Their main interest for future invited speakers went to Max Planck headquarters (Department of personal development & opportunities) and Career / Coaching / Mentoring trainer (figure 7).

Figure 7. Responses of postdocs with respect to the content of future PostdocNet meetings. Percentages represent the proportion of respondents who gave the mentioned answers. N=63.

In addition to the proposed topics, postdocs also suggested:

  • Sustainability
  • Implementation of postdoc guidelines at institutes (tips, tricks, successes and failures and how to improve)
  • Breakout sessions on job search / applications / CVs / ‘getting prepared for the next step’
  • Breakout sessions on developing your career goal and determining how to reach it
  • PostdocNet working groups
  • Helmholtz and Leibnitz postdoc representatives
  • Science politician
  •  Science Policy Officer
  • European commission dedicated to postdoc
  • Interested in leisure time did not reach 50% agreement from the respondents.

To conclude, postdocs are aware of the importance to meet all together to discuss and raise important topics for our community. They emphasized the importance of good and effective use of the meeting time. Additionally, postdocs stressed the fact that they should decide for topics discussed during PostdocNet meeting.

I really disliked how the topic of stipend/fellowship was dismissed [during the panel discussion] when this is an extremely important topic especially since it was supposed to be resolved 5 years ago. I think it is not up to the organizers to decide what topic is worth discussing but to the people present.

On behalf of the survey working group, we are looking forward to the future meeting!

Illustration: Pixabay


Get to Know Your PostdocNet Working Groups!

Have you wondered how you can get involved in the PostdocNet? Or wanted to know more about the working groups which were established at the Founding Meeting in April 2019?

Look no further! Below, we try to summarize the topics of each working group, some goals and most importantly, how to contact the working group if you want to help.

We are only successful if the Postdoc members of this network step up and lend a hand in moving things forward. This can be from organizing meetings, seminars, or just in general helping with daily tasks that need to be done. Perhaps you’re great with computers and graphics, or you love to write posts, or maybe you really enjoy discussing the pertinent topics researchers in Germany are facing today. Whatever your passion, there is somewhere that you can help!

The current working groups are:

Equality and Diversity:

We value the diverse backgrounds that Postdoctoral Researchers bring to the individual Max Planck institutes and the Max Planck Society at large. We believe that every person should have access to equal opportunities and treatment irrespective of gender, sexual identity and orientation, nationality, ethnicity, disability, age, socioeconomic status, marital and parental status. We believe that creating an inclusive work environment will lead to scientific success and well-being for all Postdocs in the Max Planck Society.

We aim to:

  • serve as contact point for all Postdoctoral Researchers within the Max Planck Society
  • promote the Max Planck Society’s vision on equal opportunities
  • raise awareness within the scientific community on the value of diversity to create a more inclusive work culture
  • represent Postdoctoral Researchers on initiatives regarding diversity and equality in science
  • provide Postdoctoral Researchers with information regarding diversity and equality services available within their own institute and the Max Planck Society
  • provide constructive suggestions and ideas to the Max Planck ‘Opportunities’ Committee to promote diversity and equality

Interested Postdocs can contact the working group here.

General Meeting:

Our strength lies in our collective movement for change. In order to facilitate communication between the vast number of Postdocs within the Max Planck Society, we need the opportunity to meet and discuss successes and points of improvement. The members of the General Meeting working group coordinate the location, schedule and general logistics of the yearly meeting. Help is always needed! If you enjoy planning events and bringing scientists together, join us and make this happen!

Interested Postdocs can contact the working group here.

Employees are very well protected in Germany but it is up to us, to ensure that we are aware of our rights. As such, the Legal Support working group seeks to examine a wide variety of issues. Most of our work will involve conducting legal research to make referrals.

At present, the immediate actions of this group will focus on: 

1. Consider converting all stipendiary post docs to contracts;

2. To check whether or not the Postdoc guidance of 2017 are legally binding upon our institutes;

3. Review the VBL pension contributions and ability to withdraw from the scheme.

4. Organize and make available possible contracts that Postdocs may see, and provide translated (or simplified) descriptions of each section.

Interested Postdocs can contact the working group here.

Research Needs:

The primary aim of this working group is to make sure that the Max Planck Society (MPS) provides the environment and support that allows Postdoctoral researchers to get the maximum out of their time at the MPS. In order to allow Postdocs to build up their research profile, we want to encourage and actively promote their achievements, mobility and independence as well as their interactions, exchange and collaborations inside the MPS.

Interested Postdocs can contact the working group here.


The Secretary Working Group aims to support and administer the central framework upon which the PostdocNet is founded. As a working group we are responsible for implementing many of the matters arising across the network. Current (and over the next year) working projects for the Secretary WG include looking at and fine-tuning how the PostdocNet statutes can be improved, determining the framework for establishing local structures e.g. local elections, encouraging the establishment of local hubs in the PostdocNet and preparing a thorough starting guide for new Postdocs including advice on all aspects on working at MPIs that have been brought up by Postdocs.

Interested Postdocs can contact the working group here.


As fixed in the statutes, the Seminar working group is responsible for the organization of soft skills and scientific seminars. The aim is thereby to work together closely with the Department for Human Development of the MPG and other personnel throughout the MPG responsible for career development of their scientific staff. We are currently still thinking about how to be active best and what kind of formats could be useful and feasible. Any help, in creative and practical form, is welcomed and appreciated!

Interested Postdocs can contact the working group here.

Social Rights:

The primary aim of this working group is to ensure that the Max Planck Society (MPS) provides basic labor and social rights to all Postdoctoral researchers within the MPS, including those on externally funded fellowships, up to the level of German contractual law. Moreover, we will try to define and ensure competitive social conditions within the MPS, such as minimal salary levels, child care & family benefits, minimal contract lengths, mental-health support and etc.

Interested Postdocs can contact the working group here.


The goal of the survey working group is to construct and launch surveys addressed to the PostdocNet community in order to gather meaningful data for the benefit of the community. For 2019-2020, the Survey Group aims to evaluate the needs, the work environment and the career development of the Postdoc community in the MPS.

All motivated person are welcome to join. Specifically, knowledgeable Postdocs who are data analysts, psychologists, demographers, sociologists, and other positions which would help with the collection and analysis of the survey results are encouraged to contact us.

Interested Postdocs can contact the working group here.

Web and Media:

The Web and Media working group focuses on providing useful content, administering the PostdocNet website, as well as social media channels (  and LinkedIn). In addition, the working group moderates the mailing lists and keeps close connections to the other working groups to determine where new content, or important information has arisen that should be distributed to the members of the PostdocNet. We currently need Postdocs interested in curating, writing and editing content for the website.

Interested Postdocs can contact the working group here.

Illustration: Pixabay