PlaMatSu trained 9 Early Stage Researchers (ESRs) at PhD level in the field of bio-inspired materials and surfaces in a network of multi-disciplinary labs composed of biologists, physicists, and chemists. New bio-inspired materials offer great potential for knowledge creation and innovation. After having completed their research and the extensive training of PlaMatSu, the ESRs are now completing their PhDs and will soon be ready to embark on careers in academia and industry.
The ESRs engaged in ambitious research projects, supervised by internationally renowned experts on bio-inspired materials, and worked in a multi-disciplinary setting spanning from plant biology to materials chemistry and soft matter physics in both academic and industry settings. ESRs received a world-class scientific training through their interactions with these principle investigators, the research that they conducted, as well as the state-of-the art experimental and analytical equipment they used. Unlike many of their peers, PlaMatSu’s ESRs received a truly interdisciplinary PhD training where they gained a deeper understanding of biological and physical laws responsible for structure-function relationships in plant systems. This enabled them to abstract these design principles in order to design and prepare novel functional materials and surface modifications. The training-by-research was complemented by an intensive training programme of workshops and a winter-school on soft-skills, technology transfer and innovation, ethical challenges for young scientists, scientific outreach through Wikimedia projects, introduction to R&D in industry, preparation for job search, public outreach via an exhibition in one of the botanical gardens, and bio-inspired materials. Moreover, ESRs benefitted from the active involvement of the partners from the private sector in the training workshops and the annual network meetings. Furthermore, the ESRs undertook secondments between the research groups and to the industry partners, which exposed them to interdisciplinary research environments, fostered collaborative teamwork across research groups, and gave them first-hand experience of research and development in top companies in the chemical, cosmetics, polymer processing and scientific services industry. The ESRs will defend their PhD theses in the upcoming year. Thus, after having completed the research and doctoral programmme of PlaMatSu, the ESRs graduate with a PhD degree from leading research Universities in Europe, and be ready to embark on a career in academia or industry. In conclusion, PlaMatSu has successfully created a significant and strong positive impact on the future careers and employability of the ESRs.