Was: Re: AvH in Berlin-Potsdam area

David J. Westenberg djwesten at coos.dartmouth.edu
Sun Sep 1 14:12:09 EST 1996

kirberg at nki.nl (Jorg Kirberg) writes:


I saw that you had a dutch address so I thought you might be questioning 
your chances of getting a fellowship to go to Germany.

>Dear Dave,

>if I want to go abroad (meaning in my case going out of germany) I MUST
>go into the lab of a former AvH fellow (might well be that this part is
>called Feodor Lynam (???) programm, but it is given via the AvH foundation).
>This person, most likely, was a forgeign fellow in germany before, as the
>criterion is to be a former AvH fellow or being an AvH price winner.

This is correct as far as I understand it.  This serves as an incentive 
for foreign scholars to go to Germany in the first place.  Being a former 
AvH fellow myself, I would have the opportunity to sponsor a German 
scholar to come to my lab and work but they would still have to compete 
with other German scholars to get the money.

>If I go back then to germany, I will be shure of a nice supply of foreign
>PostDocs ... which then will get german PostDocs ... and so on.

This is where I think you are mistaken  If you are running a lab in 
Germany you don't need to have any connection with the AvH foundation in 
order to sponsor a foreign fellow through the AvH.  The only advantage 
you would have being an AvH fellow yourself is the fact that you would 
have made additional professional contacts in another country who might 
direct foreign fellows to your lab.  And those foreign fellows must still 
compete with other foreign fellows for increasingly limited funds.

>But essentially - and that is what I really don't like - here people
>only get money once they join the club. (In germany, since the east
>was absorbed, there is a nice name for this: 'Seilschaften').

>This is not pretty much what science shall be: a free place where you
>can do what you want (as long as you can convince the reviewers).

>Therefore, I think I am pretty much right when saying this is inbreeding.

I agree that you have to be careful about inbreeding and establishing
"good 'ol boy" networks.  I noticed a bit of this while I was in Germany
but I would have to say that my experience with the AvH tells me that they
are less prone to inbreeding than a lot of other programs.  The only
problem I noticed was that so few women receive AvH fellowships.  Of
course this opens up a whole new discussion that could go on forever.  The
whole point I want to make is that AvH fellowships are NOT limited to
those who want to work for former AvH fellows (so you can still have that
supply of foreign post-docs without first going to a former AvH fellow's
lab) and few former AvH fellows take advantage of the opportunity to
sponsor German scholars so the potential for "inbreeding" is there but 
the advantages from giving foreign scholars the opportunity to work in 
Germany far out weigh the disadvantages.



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