Retreat 2013

Principles of Scientific Collaboration

"The knowledge gained from the workshop, you can’t get from a textbook – only from experience," said Dimitris Christodoulou, ETH Zurich, after he attended the Retreat 2013. He was one of 41 PhD students and postdocs who travelled to Engelberg in October to learn about the principles of good scientific collaboration.

Following on from the success of last year's Student Retreat, decided once more to shift the emphasis away from science itself and focus on strengthening collaboration and communication between scientists. Coaching expert Sašo Kočevar and his team from hfp consulting were invited back for a second year running to lead the workshops. The topics touched upon included:

  • Techniques for active listening
  • Dealing with group dynamics
  • Managing conflict
  • Stimulating creativity
  • Presenting work to an audience from a different scientific field

Through focused work in small groups as well as plenary sessions, students were able to practice what they learnt on the spot. The coaches used a diverse set of approaches ranging from group discussions to improvisation sessions in order to convey the subject matter.

Taking a personal approach

The retreat was yet again very well received by the students. Sébastien Dubuis from ETH Zurich said of the content of the workshops: “Even if I bring only 10% of what I learnt home, I will already be a better collaborator and scientist”. Andreas Kühne, also from ETH Zurich, added “I think this workshop was very good, and should be attended by more people. Many in science fail to reflect upon themselves; they instead focus solely on scientific achievements. I think if more people took a more personal approach like this, a lot could improve in science.”

The retreat also gave participants plenty of time to interact with other young scientists working in the field of systems biology. As part of the social programme, participants got to know each other either on the panoramic hike up to the snowy summit of Mount Titlis, or during an action-packed visit to the high rope park in Engelberg. Greta Giordano Attianese from the University of Lausanne remarked: “It’s astounding how many friends I have made in just four days. It was incredible!”


Dr. Eavan Dorcey
Scientific Coordinator
Clausiusstr. 45, CLP D 7
CH - 8092 Zurich 
phone +41 44 632 74 23
fax +41 44 632 15 64

Past PhD Student Retreats
201720162015 / 2013 / 2012 
2011 / 2010 / 2009