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FAQ & Application Details for Ph.D. Students

 

Who can apply for a Ph.D. student position within the SFB LIPOTOX or the other projects advertised?
  
Any student who has the equivalent of a masters degree in any subject from chemistry to biology, including biochemistry, microbiology, molecular biology, pharmacology etc. can apply for the vacant positions. The criterion for being eligible is that the degree should permit the student to enter Ph.D. education in the country where the degree was obtained (typically his/her home country). 

When should one apply?  
The call for applications starts February 14, 2007 and ends March 18, 2007. Thus, if you are interested you should submit your application as soon as possible.


Where and how should one apply?  
Please send your application by email to Caroline Schober, the project manager of the SFB LIPOTOX (caroline.schober@uni-graz.at). Do NOT send the application to the PIs directly! Type the following text into the subject line of your email in order to circumvent our spam filter: "LIPOTOX: PhD Application"

Your email should contain one attachment (if possible a .pdf file) with the following items:
  • your Curriculum vitae (CV)
  • a description of your previous studies
  • a letter describing your scientific interests, preferably in terms of the projects offering Ph.D. positions (indicate the name(s) of the PIs of the projects that interest you most)
  • names and email-addresses of at least two scientists who know you well enough to write a recommendation letter
  • any other information which you feel could improve your chance of acceptance
It would be appreciated if the whole attachment were not longer than 5-7 pages. 


What are the criteria for hiring Ph.D. students for the SFB LIPOTOX?  
The SFB LIPOTOX is a highly competitive joint research project that is seeking for excellent team members. We try to get the most interested, ambitious and intelligent students to educate them for a carreer as scientist on an international level. This is basically the only criterion, we have no quota with regard to sex, race or nationality. However, we may have a problem if several highly qualified applicants all want to work with the same supervisor. 
 

How will applicants be selected for admission?  
There will be a two-stage procedure to fill the available Ph.D. positions. In a first round, all applications will be screened and about 24 applicants will be selected for interviews. Preference will be given to students who studied quickly and obtained excellent grades. Applicants selected for interviews will be invited to come to Graz (their travel and housing expenses will be covered by the SFB LIPOTOX) and to give a short presentation of their previous research (typically during the masters thesis). There will also be interviews with all candidates invited to Graz. During that visit, they will have an opportunity to meet the scientists involved in the SFB LIPOTOX and the other projects advertised and to talk to Ph.D. students in the LIPOTOX laboratories. After these interviews, the panel of principle investigators will decide about admission. 


 
Is it necessary to know German to be eligible?  
No, it is not. However, students are expected to be fluent in English. 


Can I apply if I have not yet finished my masters degree?  
Yes, given that you will graduate within the next three months. The masters supervisor will have to attest this in his/her letter of recommendation. 


If accepted, what are the benefits?  
Ph.D. students will be fully employed during their Ph.D. thesis. There will be funding made available for research-motivated visits to laboratories outside of Austria, to specific training courses and to conferences. The Ph.D. students will be fully integrated within the teaching activities of the international Ph.D. excellence programm DK Molecular Enzymology in Graz. There will be a thesis committee for all Ph.D. students hired via this selection process.


What is a thesis committee?
Thesis committees supervise the progress of each student’s thesis research throughout his/her graduate work. Apart from the student and the thesis supervisor(s), each committee consists of at least two additional senior scientists. Members of a thesis committee can be either principle investigators of other LIPOTOX projects, other professors from one of the three universities that are part of the SFB LIPOTOX, or experts from outside. The student chooses one of the additional members of the thesis committee as her/his mentor. The mentor is the person who the student can approach confidentially if he/she feels that there is a problem with the progress of the thesis.The committee meets at least once each year for extensive discussion following a formal presentation made by the student. The student, the supervisor or the mentor can ask for additional committee meetings during the year to discuss new developments or problems related to the progress of the student’s research.



What is the salary which Ph.D. students can expect within the SFB LIPOTOX?  
Students will receive the regular FWF salary for Ph.D. students, which amounts to a net annual income (after deduction of taxes, health and pension insurance) of approximately EUR 17,400. Given the cost of living in Graz, this is not extravagant but sufficient for a decent living. 

 
How long does it take to obtain a Ph.D. in the advertised projects?  
The typical duration of a Ph.D. thesis is three years. When necessary
a fourth year can be added with approval of the thesis committee. These four years should be the maximum duration, three years are more like a typical duration.

Of course, the initial acceptance is not a blank check for three years of salary, there is a constant monitoring of the performance of the student. In case the Ph.D. thesis committee is dissatisfied with a student's performance, it is obliged to take actions which - in extreme cases - may include a premature termination of the employment contract.


What are the formal requirements a student has to fulfill in order to obtain a Ph.D.?  
Successful candidates are enrolled at the University of Graz (KFUG), at the Medical University of Graz (MUG) or at the Graz University of Technology (TUG) as Ph.D. students, and they have to conform to the requirements of these universities. Basically, the university curricula require participation in a number of lecture courses (in fact, rather few, typically 2 hours per week) during the Ph.D. work. At the end, the student has to submit a written thesis. After its approval, there is a Ph.D. exam, which consists of a presentation of the thesis results by the student, followed by questions from two examinors. These questions almost always relate to the thesis work and its scientific background.

Of course, our expectations towards our LIPOTOX Ph.D. students go considerably beyond this "legal minimum" imposed by the university laws. Students have to participate in additional seminars and training activities and a strong emphasis will be put on the dissemination of scientific results obtained in the course of the Ph.D. research (publications in international journals). However, these are not formal requirements an individual student has to fulfill in order to obtain a degree, but rather an aim which is in the joint interest of the student, the supervisor and the SFB LIPOTOX.


Links

updated 21.2.2007    


 Supported by the Austrian Science Fund

SFB LIPOTOX
Project Management: Mag. Caroline Schober, University of Graz, Institute of Molecular Biosciences, Heinrichstrasse 31, A-8010 Graz, Austria

caroline.schober@uni-graz.at                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                       Webmaster