Report - Annual Retreat 2021 in Lüneburg

From Wednesday to Friday, September 22-24, the first Annual Retreat of our TRR 181 after 2 years absence due to the Corona pandemic took place in Lüneburg, Seminaris Hotel.

Text: Nicolas Dettling

Science is a collaborative process

We are inspired by the work of others, rely on the expertise of our colleagues and sometimes have to defend our ideas against our critics. After relying on an online version of scientific discourse for so long, TRR 181 members were finally able to meet in person for our annual retreat taking place in Lüneburg, September 22-24.

First meeting in person since beginning of the pandemic 

After a short welcome and introduction by TRR speaker Carsten Eden, the scientific program started right away. Throughout the retreat, every TRR subproject would have the chance to introduce itself in a PICO presentation and a poster session. From a start, this presentation format was well received and lively discussions were held in front of the posters. Especially the wide range of disciplines and topics represented in the TRR offered something new for everyone to learn.

A retreat also provides the opportunity to collaboratively work on topics other than science. One of those is the TRR’s Gender Workshop Program, introduced by Lisa Horvath and Sabine Blackmore. The program will contain structured training touching topics such as gender awareness, conflict management and fair hiring practices as well as workshops specifically designed to support our female TRR colleagues. In the first session, Lisa Horvath explained that everyone is subject to personal biases that subconsciously influence our judgment based on for example gender, nationality or looks. Thinking of differences and similarities between oneself and other TRR members was a useful exercise to become more aware of these biases and to get to know each other better. In the end, only an environment of inclusion and fairness will make the TRR a space for everyone to thrive and it was good to be reminded to keep doing the work in this regard.

Starting with another round of PICO presentations and posters, the second day was then dedicated to discuss future directions of the TRR’s work in breakout groups. Lively discussions on the future of the IDEMIX model, the upcoming SONETT cruise, RTG courses on atmospheric sciences and the outreach project Art&Science with two attending artists show that there is still a lot of more interesting projects to come in the second phase of TRR181. Meanwhile, the second day also offered the possibility for PhD students to meet their Postdoc mentors in person and to discuss both science and life as an early career researcher.

Adjustment of schedule enabled participants to support the local climate strike

The final day of the retreat started with the last round of flash talks and poster presentations, completing the picture of diverse projects joined under the roof of TRR181. The third day was also the day of looking beyond the conference room to the rest of the country, where people came together for the Fridays For Future national climate strike. This is why the retreat schedule was adjusted and many of the retreat participants went to show their support at the local climate strike in the city centre of Lüneburg. Putting our scientific expertise at the service of society should be one of our main
goals as scientists and everyone may find his or her own way to do that. We therefore thank the board and the other participants for their patience allowing the departure from the retreat schedule.

To conclude the scientific schedule, a challenging keynote lecture was promised and delivered by Vittorio M. Canuto (NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies New York). Connecting to the retreat from the city of New York, Dr. Canuto shared his views on “Parameterisation and implications of SM”, demonstrating once again the relevance of TRR topics for the international research community.

At lunch members of the Gender & Diversity Task Group - previously known as Gender Task Group - met with PhDs and postdocs who are interested in the topics and are considering joining the task group. Together they discussed the existing measures, which mainly focus on gender issues and supporting scientists with family obligations, and ideas for future activities of the task group, e.g. compiling online resources on gender issues and organising workshops on intercultural communication, particularly between supervisors and Early Career Scientists.

New board members voted at first inperson general assembly in the second phase of the TRR181

In the afternoon, all attendees reconvened one last time for the first inperson general assembly in the second phase of the TRR181. First votes were cast to elect Urs Schaefer-Rolffs (IAP) and Nils Brüggemann (Uni HH) as new TRR board members. We congratulate the new board members and wish them great success in exercising their new duties. Additionally, we extend a warm welcome to our new members Bing-Ying “Luby” Lu (UHB) and Sergiy Vasylkevych (UHH). Luby and Sergiy have already actively contributed to the TRR in the past and now formally obtained membership status. Well deserved!

Finally, there has been the opportunity to discuss our science and to get to know each other better during a coffee break, bowling match or the occasional visit to a local brewery. We have come far in these three days: We can draw new inspiration from the work of our fellow TRR members, we got to know the expertise of our colleagues and we are better prepared to face our critics. Success!

We thank all participants for their contributions to the retreat and especially Lea Diederichsen and Jennifer Fandrich for organizing this successful event!