In 2007, the German Gentner Doctoral Student Programme was established at CERN, named in honour of the celebrated nuclear physicist Wolfgang Gentner, President of the CERN Council from 1972-74. On 1 July 2016, the 100th Gentner Doctoral Student, Christian Zimmer, started his PhD at CERN, where he will work on setting up the sympathetic laser cooling of antiprotons at the AEgIS experiment.
CERN’s Doctoral Student Programme has been running for many years, with 200 students currently enrolled. The Gentner programme is fully integrated into the general CERN Doctoral Student Programme, but is entirely funded by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF). The programme sponsors 30 to 40 students for three years and is open to any EU nationals enrolled at a German university.
Many CERN groups have profited greatly from the Gentner programme. Lots of new and innovative ideas could not otherwise have been developed because of a lack of funding. “The externally funded Gentner students give a unique opportunity for visions to become reality, and the programme is establishing new ties to research groups in Germany,” says Michael Hauschild, coordinator of the programme.
The first ‘Gentner Doktor’ finished his PhD in 2011 and took up a position at the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT) in Germany. However, the majority of former Gentner students go on to pursue careers at CERN: about two-thirds of them became applied fellows and some are still employed here as staff. This indicates the excellent career prospects that the programme offers.
Christian Zimmer, the 100th Gentner PhD student, comments on his experience at CERN: “The framework of the Gentner programme at CERN offers a unique opportunity for me to contribute to the fascinating research that is performed here. For the next three years, I will be part of the AEgIS collaboration and will participate in the project aiming to cool antiprotons to temperatures in the range of millikelvins, which has never been done before. I am really excited about setting this up for the experiment.”
Find out more information about the German Gentner Doctoral Student Programme at CERN here.