A scientist adjusting a complex device.

The set-up of the QUSTEC doctoral programme is inherently international, interdisciplinary and intersectoral.

Our goal is to provide the individual-oriented training programme, which balance professional mentoring with personal growth to provide each doctoral researcher with the foundations to become future team leaders in academia and knowledge-based industry.

Our layered training approach combines the fundamental training within the host research team with additional technical and transferable skills training provided within the corresponding graduate school’s programmes of host institutions, the main QUSTEC training offer and through the partnership with other external organisations.

Supervision of the doctoral projects

Each ESR project is supervised by individual training panel (ITP), which consists of the main supervisor, a co-supervisor, and a mentor. For most of QUSTEC projects, at least one of the ITP members is from the non-academic sector.
The supervisor is the main contact person for all matters related to the research project, he/she actively supervises, advises, and guides the ESR on all scientific and career-related matters. The ESR and supervisor(s) meet regularly to achieve the goals set out in the Personal Career Development Plan.
The co-supervisor brings in additional expertise and viewpoints from an interdisciplinary field and can give additional guidance for the ESR in all scientific and career-related matters.
The primary role of the mentor is to identify and facilitate specific training objectives, advise on any problems faced by the ESR, including career matters with an external perspective and provide mediation in the case of disputes.
In most cases, co-supervisor or mentor will be also the responsible contact person at the secondment host institution.

Personal Career Development Plan

All QUSTEC ESRs are required to set up, at the beginning of their fellowship, a Personal Career Development Plan (PCDP). The document will be updated yearly and validated by the Training Managers Prof. Tobias Schätz and Prof. Shannon Whitlock. The PCDP template is based on the model developed by the Vitae framework for research career development, complemented by the newly developed EURAXESS TOP III, which also takes into account work-life balance.
The document covers the medium- and long-term career goal and expected outcomes and is based on four-year fellowship duration. Special emphasis is given to careers in the non-academic sector.
The PCDP is a tool and a roadmap for the training and gives each ESR the ownership of his/her career trajectory. It also serves as progress and quality monitoring tool of the career development.

3-tiered training structure

We are aiming at the following training objectives for each ESR over the course of 4 years:

  • Four transferrable skills trainings (also as part of the respective graduate programmes)
  • (At least) one high level publication and 2 other dissemination activities (such as conference contributions)
  • Three outreach/public engagement/citizen science/science education activities (such as workshops in schools, press interviews etc.)

Those goals are implemented through the development of a 3-tiered training structure.

  • Tier 1 consists of the local training provided by the ESR’s scientific host group and includes three main phases: Nurturing (1 year), Research (2 years), Scientific Independence (last year).
  • Tier 2 – interdisciplinarity – comprises a QUSTEC-wide personalised training programme provided by the local graduate schools and QUSTEC summer schools and workshops, which the ESRs are co-organising. Doctoral researchers are encouraged to define their own curriculum in consultation with their supervisors and based on the PCDP.
  • Tier 3 – intersectorality and internationality – includes secondments, short research stays and industry-inspired (mini-)projects.

An integral part of our training programme are the mandatory secondments for each ESR lasting from 2 to 6 months, which will widen the ESR’s scientific and transferable skill sets, and also underlines the intersectoral nature of our training programme. The secondment should be at least cross-border or intersectoral. In case when the both main host organisation and the secondment host are academic institution, the programme shall be complemented by a short visit (1 to 3 weeks) to the non-academic partner.

QUSTEC Main events

  • Kick-Start Training was held online on June 22-24, 2020 and was organised by QUSTEC coordinator.
  • Summer School 2021 will take place on September 14-17 in Engelberg (CH) and is co-organised by the QUSTEC fellows and supervisors from University of Basel and IBM Research, together with QCQT PhD school from the University of Basel and the NCCR Spin Consortium. The participation is limited to the members of corresponding graduate school and is not open to external audience. More details can be found on the event webpage.
  • Summer School 2022 will be organised by the fellows and supervisors from Albert Ludwig University of Freiburg with the assistance of the Walther Meissner Institute.
  • Summer School 2023 will be organised by the fellows and supervisors from Karlsruhe Institute of Technology.
  • The Final conference will be held in 2024 and organised by the fellows and supervisors from University of Strasbourg with the assistance of all consortium members.

Besides the main events, the series of continuous training sessions will be organised throughout the duration of the programme with the assistance of QUSTEC partners.

Integration in existing training programmes

QUSTEC ESRs take part also in the respective graduate programmes at the QUSTEC partner

  • PhD School QCQT and the Graduate Center (GRACE) of the University of Basel,
  • Doctoral School of Physics and Physical Chemistry (ED 182), Doctoral School of Chemical Sciences (ED222) and the Graduate School “Quantum Science and Nanomaterials” (QMat) at the University of Strasbourg,
  • International Graduate Academy (IGA) at the University of Freiburg,
  • Karlsruhe House of Young Scientists (KHYS) at the KIT,
  • TUM Graduate School in Munich accompanies the doctoral candidates from the Walther Meissner Institute.
  • IBM Europe’s QUSTEC ESR joined the graduate programmes at the University of Basel, ETH Zurich and EPFL.


QUSTEC highly encourages the development of leadership skills. Namely, by encouraging doctoral researchers to take partial responsibility for managing science and educational strategies via QUSTEC Early Investigator Group (EIG). The opportunity for the weekly exchanges and networking is provided via the establishment of QUSTEC virtual coffee breaks.