To achieve its scientific goals, STRUCTURES has to offer its members space, time, and the best possible conditions, to meet, focus, and work on their joint research projects. This will be realized in a new academic unit, STRUCTURES College, dedicated to the interaction among the disciplines at all levels and across all different career stages, to international exchange, and to the unity of research and teaching on the graduate and advanced undergraduate level. Because of its central importance for structuring the scientific activities and the collaboration within the cluster, it is much more than a mere infrastructure. STRUCTURES College will become a permanent facility of Heidelberg University, as a place for interdisciplinary research uniting physics, mathematics, and computer science.
Space for Research: Oberstübchen
On the university campus Neuenheimer Feld, a new building is under construction, to house the European Institute for Neuromorphic Computing (EINC), as part of the European flagship project HBP. It is situated adjacent to the two institutes for experimental physics, KIP and PI, and just across the street from Mathematikon, the recently opened new building of mathematics and computer science, where MI, IAM, IFI, and IWR are located. The building provides ample space for laboratories, offices, and seminar rooms, as well as a wide open area for events and exhibitions. The university has assigned the third floor of the EINC building to STRUCTURES College. This space, which we call Oberstübchen (German colloquial for brain, literally ‘upper room’), provides offices and meeting facilities for visiting scientists and the fellows, and hosts the workshops, regular seminars, and thematic programs of the college.
Moreover, lab space is also available for new groups performing experimental work in this building. This concerns in particular research on synthetic quantum systems and its relation to neuromorphic systems: when the EINC building is completed, the Heidelberg Quantum Architecture will move from its present location in PI to this building. The close integration of theory and experiment in research both on quantum and neural synthetic systems will be a unique opportunity to create a new focus of research not pursued at any other place in Germany.
Time for Research: STRUCTURES Fellowships
It is an important aspect of STRUCTURES to free up time of its members for research. A central element in this is the appointment of STRUCTURES Fellows – members of STRUCTURES who will be freed of most routine duties at the university for a year, to devote most of their time to research on their STRUCTURES topics, and to interact with other members of the cluster, in particular with the young scientists. They get offices in STRUCTURES College, and commit themselves to being there for most of the year and contributing in an essential way to the activities of the cluster. In return, STRUCTURES Fellows commit themselves to teaching specialized courses about their work at the college right after their fellowship year, to transfer the latest research results to graduate education without delay, thus contributing to the research-oriented teaching program of STRUCTURES. We expect about five fellows to be at STRUCTURES College at any given time.
Scientific Exchange: The Guest Program
In addition to the fellowships, STRUCTURES runs a substantial visitor program that allows external scientists to visit STRUCTURES College for collaboration and discussion, for periods ranging from days up to a year. Specifically, the College offers endowed guest professorships for established scientists who want to spend a period of a few months up to a year (e.g. during sabbaticals or parts thereof) in Heidelberg. A further important part of scientific life at STRUCTURES College are schools, workshops, and thematic programs, on topics of the cluster.
Graduate Education: The Research-Oriented Teaching Program
A topical teaching program leads graduate and advanced undergraduate students to research work in the subject areas of the cluster. This program consists of courses, journal clubs and interdisciplinary seminars, and it also includes project practicals and thesis work in the associated research groups as central components of the bachelor and master education. Courses held by two or more alternating lecturers will highlight the presented subject from different perspectives. The fellows contribute special courses about their latest research after their fellowship time at STRUCTURES College. Within the program, we also take a new approach on sustainable software development by offering regular tutorials on proper documentation and maintenance of software, to regularize the passing of knowledge from one generation of researchers to the next. The teaching program will be organized in close coordination with the well-established graduate schools in fundamental physics (HGSFP) and in mathematics and computation (HGS MathComp) and the departments. Students and postdocs have their own dedicated share of the visitor budget, to run their own activities.
The research activities in the CPs and EPs bring together scientists with very different expertise and background. This requires a culture of collaboration that takes into account the specifics of the disciplines involved, and raises awareness of variations in culture and language. STRUCTURES College will be the focal point of all activites that deal with this and foster a joint culture of collaboration for interdisciplinary research.