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Evaluation of an international doctoral educational program in space life sciences: The Helmholtz Space Life Sciences Research School (SpaceLife) in Germany

Hellweg, C.E. and Spitta, L.F. and Kopp, K. and Schmitz, C. and Reitz, G. and Gerzer, R. (2016) Evaluation of an international doctoral educational program in space life sciences: The Helmholtz Space Life Sciences Research School (SpaceLife) in Germany. Advances in Space Research, 57 (1), pp. 378-397. Elsevier. DOI: 10.1016/j.asr.2015.10.039 ISSN 0273-1177

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Official URL: http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.asr.2015.10.039

Abstract

Training young researchers in the field of space life sciences is essential to vitalize the future of spaceflight. In 2009, the DLR Institute of Aerospace Medicine established the Helmholtz Space Life Sciences Research School (SpaceLife) in cooperation with several universities, starting with 22 doctoral candidates. SpaceLife offered an intensive three-year training program for early-stage researchers from different fields (biology, biomedicine, biomedical engineering, physics, sports, nutrition, plant and space sciences). The candidates passed a multistep selection procedure with a written application, a self-presentation to a selection committee, and an interview with the prospective supervisors. The selected candidates from Germany as well as from abroad attended a curriculum taught in English. An overview of space life sciences was given in a workshop with introductory lectures on space radiation biology and dosimetry, space physiology, gravitational biology and astrobiology. The yearly Doctoral Students’ Workshops were also interdisciplinary. During the first Doctoral Students’ Workshop, every candidate presented his/her research topic including hypothesis and methods to be applied. The progress report was due after ~1.5 years and a final report after ~3 years. The candidates specialized in their subfield in advanced lectures, Journal Clubs, practical trainings, lab exchanges and elective courses. The students attended at least one transferable skills course per year, starting with a Research Skills Development course in the first year, a presentation and writing skills course in the second year, and a career and leadership course in the third year. The whole program encompassed 303 h and was complemented by active conference participation. In this paper, the six years’ experience with this program is summarized in order to guide other institutions in establishment of structured Ph.D. programs in this field. The curriculum including elective courses is documented. The applicants’ statistics revealed that personal contacts and the DLR website were most important the recruitment of doctoral candidates. The evaluation of the application and selection procedure revealed that prediction of thesis success based on master thesis mark or evaluation by the selection committee is difficult. SpaceLife Doctoral Students greatly contributed to the scientific output in terms of peer-reviewed publications of the Institute of Aerospace Medicine with a peak in the fourth year after start of the thesis and they continuously received awards for their scientific work.

Item URL in elib:https://elib.dlr.de/101746/
Document Type:Article
Title:Evaluation of an international doctoral educational program in space life sciences: The Helmholtz Space Life Sciences Research School (SpaceLife) in Germany
Authors:
AuthorsInstitution or Email of AuthorsAuthors ORCID iD
Hellweg, C.E.German Aerospace Center (DLR), Institute of Aerospace Medicine, Radiobiology, Cologne, Germany; christine.hellweg (at) dlr.deUNSPECIFIED
Spitta, L.F.German Aerospace Center (DLR), Institute of Aerospace Medicine, Radiobiology, Cologne, GermanyUNSPECIFIED
Kopp, K.German Aerospace Center (DLR), Institute of Aerospace Medicine, Radiobiology, Cologne, GermanyUNSPECIFIED
Schmitz, C.German Aerospace Center (DLR), Institute of Aerospace Medicine, Radiobiology, Cologne, GermanyUNSPECIFIED
Reitz, G.German Aerospace Center (DLR), Institute of Aerospace Medicine, Radiobiology, Cologne, GermanyUNSPECIFIED
Gerzer, R.German Aerospace Center (DLR), Institute of Aerospace Medicine, Cologne, Germany; Present address: Space Center, Skoltech University, Moscow, Russia.UNSPECIFIED
Date:2016
Journal or Publication Title:Advances in Space Research
Refereed publication:Yes
Open Access:No
Gold Open Access:No
In SCOPUS:Yes
In ISI Web of Science:Yes
Volume:57
DOI :10.1016/j.asr.2015.10.039
Page Range:pp. 378-397
Publisher:Elsevier
ISSN:0273-1177
Status:Published
Keywords:Space life sciences; Education; Ph.D. program; Radiation; Astrobiology; Space physiology
HGF - Research field:Aeronautics, Space and Transport
HGF - Program:Space
HGF - Program Themes:Research under Space Conditions
DLR - Research area:Raumfahrt
DLR - Program:R FR - Forschung unter Weltraumbedingungen
DLR - Research theme (Project):R - Vorhaben Strahlenbiologie
Location: Köln-Porz
Institutes and Institutions:Institute of Aerospace Medicine > Radiation Biology
Deposited By: Kopp, Kerstin
Deposited On:13 Jan 2016 14:46
Last Modified:06 Sep 2019 15:27

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