Young Scientists

Doctoral and postdoctoral researchers at the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research

Doctoral researchers play a vital role in research at PIK and are an integral element of the institute's scientific culture. About 90 young scientists from 4 continents and 16 countries are currently working here on their doctoral theses. They are engaged in externally funded research projects and profit from the supervision of PIK’s senior scientists and professors, who hold joint positions with the University of Potsdam, the Humboldt Universität Berlin, the Technische Universität Berlin and the University of Kassel, among others. Students with scholarships have full access to institutional resources and are well integrated in the research structure.

Around 60 postdocs from a variety of backgrounds work at PIK on externally funded research projects covering a broad range of topics. Postdocs seek out PIK for its interdisciplinary portfolio realised by experts with a high reputation in their respective fields. This offers the opportunity to investigate topics from a new perspective or to even move into a new discipline.

PhD Representatives and Postdoc Representatives are elected at regular intervals. They organise social events and the annual PhD Day and Postdoc Day and liaise with the institute's management on relevant issues. Further networking opportunities exist with the Leibniz PhD Network and Leibniz Postdoc Network.

For open doctoral and postdoctoral positions,
please see our jobs page here


Responsible for PhD programme at PIK:

Dr. Christine von Bloh
Implementation of PIK's PhD Programme
Email: cvbloh[at]

PIK’s PhD programme

The promotion of junior researchers across disciplines is an essential and well-established part of PIK’s identity. The institute has binding guidelines for the structured support of doctoral candidates as well as quality standards for doctoral projects. Based on German Research Foundation (DFG) and Leibniz recommendations, the guidelines set out the rights and obligations of the doctoral researchers and their supervisors in a transparent way.

With professorships established in natural and social sciences, PIK has been able to jointly award an increasing number of doctorates. Around 75 % of PhD candidates seek doctorates in the natural sciences and 25 % in the social sciences. Topics of theses cover a wide disciplinary range from environmental ecology to theoretical physics to agricultural economics. On average, PIK PhD candidates take four years to complete their projects. The percentage of female candidates lies at between 30 and 40 %. 

PIK offers strong internal support for completing a PhD and cooperates with graduate schools to ensure comprehensive training opportunities. Doctoral researchers are embedded in the institute’s culture of close interdisciplinary exchange. Doctoral researchers regularly present their research during PhD seminars in their own department and participate in institute-wide events such as the annual Research Days and PhD Day and in the monthly seminar series ‘Science & Pretzels.’ 

To broaden training opportunities for junior researchers, PIK has established cooperation agreements with graduate schools at the University of Potsdam (PoGS) and the Humboldt Universität zu Berlin (HGS). Courses here cover topics such as management skills, good scientific practice, writing process and presentation skills. 

The PhD representatives are actively involved in decision processes at the institute. They organize the annual PhD Day at PIK, which includes in-house training modules, as well as various social activities. Beyond PIK, the PhD representatives play an active part in the Leibniz PhD-Network

PIK’s culture of encouraging supervision and rigorous research has proved successful - PhD candidates have won numerous awards for their theses and many have progressed to successful careers in science and beyond.

Postdoctoral researchers are of specific relevance for PIK’s research agenda. About 60 postdocs currently work at PIK on externally-funded research projects. They have the opportunity to supervise graduate students and give lectures and courses at regional universities. Research results are presented at conferences and workshops. Postdocs can profit from the interdisciplinary and transdisciplinary working environment and the chance to be involved in international, national and regional research networks.

The individual career planning of PIK’s postdocs is the subject of career development reviews held regularly with working group leaders.

PIK encourages postdocs on their way to a junior or full professorship. For example, female postdocs can take part in mentoring programmes for highly-qualified female postdocs offered by the Leibniz Association or the Potsdam Graduate School.

For the development of professional skills such as how to manage a group or effective scientific communication, PIK’s postdocs can profit from courses offered, for example, by the Potsdam Graduate School or other institutions offering career development training. Relevant training events are occasionally organised at PIK (e.g. media training by the Communications team). PIK cooperates with the Telegrafenberg Career Center, which supports systematic career planning and facilitates networking within and beyond academia.