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Helmholtz Juniors (HeJu) represents the views of PhD students from the Helmholtz Association's 18 research centres.
The Helmholtz Juniors currently represent the interests of about 6800 doctoral students (as of 2014). Their primary goals are fostering exchange and networking among their peers, improving the conditions they work in and expanding the range of advanced training opportunities available to them within the Helmholtz Association.
A Helmholtz Juniors group is made up of at least two PhD student representatives from each Helmholtz Centre. Since students spend three years working on their theses, the representatives change almost every year. Thus the Helmholtz Juniors are a dynamic team that is able to respond flexibly to the current needs and requirements of PhD students within the Association.
How do you form a Helmholtz Juniors group?
In most Helmholtz Centres, PhD students elect two representatives for a term of one year, who then automatically become members of the Helmholtz Juniors. Some of the larger Centres have their own representative bodies for PhD students; in such cases, two of these are appointed to form a Helmholtz Juniors group.
Annual meetings attended by Helmholtz Juniors from all Helmholtz Centres provide a forum for PhD students to exchange information on the situation at the different Centres and coordinate initiatives to establish more uniform and better working conditions for doctoral students within the entire Helmholtz Association. The annual meetings are held at the beginning of the year at one of the Helmholtz Association’s locations.
The activities of the Helmholtz Juniors are organised by working groups formed at the annual meetings.
The Helmholtz Juniors were officially founded at an inaugural session in Berlin on 5 May 2005. The initiators officially presented the initiative to the representatives of the Helmholtz Centres at a meeting of the German Parliamentary Society in the Reichstagspräsidentenpalais that evening.
The idea for the initiative was born at a retreat hosted by the Helmholtz Centre for Infection Research (HZI), which was attended by doctoral students from the HZI, the Alfred Wegener Institute for Polar and Marine Research (AWI) and the Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research - UFZ. After an intense discussion about the different conditions at the various sites, the initiators Torge Martin, Anna Barbara Heide (both from AWI), Phillip Hahn, Nadia Zghoul, Varsha Gupte, Cornelia Hunke (all from HZI), Ralf Wagner and Christine Reinemann (both from UFZ) developed a concept for a Helmholtz-wide initiative for doctoral students. They presented it to Walter Kröll, who was President of the Helmholtz Association at the time, and won his support for their idea.