Lectures, conferences, symposiums and other similar events can offer brief excursions into unfamiliar fields of physics and provide valuable networking opportunities. Some exist to increase your knowledge of a certain subject and some aim to bring people and ideas together. Of the events outlined below, the topical lectures are obligatory for PhD students (except for theorists) and the Lunteren and Veldhoven conferences are highly recommended.
The topical lectures aim to educate PhD students about one specific field of physics, or topic, through a traditional combination of lectures and exercises. PhD students that are part of the Dutch Research School for Theoretical Physics only attend topical lectures according to agreements with their supervisor, but for the majority of PhD students at Nikhef, it is obligatory to follow at least six editions of these lectures. Custom dictates that all topical lectures are to be attended until this number is reached. That is, it is not recommended to wait until the last years of your PhD project to fulfil this requirement. Since the topical lectures occur thrice per year, this means that PhD students will typically follow these lectures for the first two years of their employment. The topical lectures are held at Nikhef and last three consecutive days, normally held around March, June and December. A list of the most recent and upcoming topical lectures series can be found on the Nikhef Topical Lectures Indico page.
Conferences oftentimes bring people together who would otherwise rarely meet and can still learn a great deal from each other. They are almost always specific to a certain topic and will be announced and advertised within their respective research groups through mailing lists and posters. It is likely that your supervisor will alert you of conferences that they think would be good for you to go to.
Aside from topic-specific conferences, there are more general conferences that PhD students are recommended to go to:
- The Nikhef Annual Meeting / Jamboree is a yearly event that highlights the progress and outlook of Nikhef’s research groups. It takes place in December.
- The NNV Subatomic Physics Meeting is an event of the Nederlandse Natuurkundige Vereniging (Dutch Physics Association) that takes place in the autumn in Lunteren.
- Fysica is the annual general conference of the NNV. It takes place in the spring and is hosted by a different city every year.
- Physics@Veldhoven takes place each year in January, naturally being hosted in Veldhoven. A wide range of topics is covered and young researchers are given the chance to present their work.
Other, smaller events are held around Nikhef to inform people of current projects or broaden their physics knowledge. These are not specific to PhD students.
- A spiegelmoment (mirror moment) is held every three months to reflect upon the recent happenings within Nikhef. These are presented in Dutch by Nikhef’s director, which is currently Stan Bentvelsen. New staff members are introduced, scientific and technical milestones are presented, and any other noteworthy topics are addressed. The presentations are held in Dutch to cater to the overwhelmingly Dutch technical and supporting staff, so this is also an excellent opportunity for non-natives to practise their understanding of the Dutch language! Chocolate bars are provided as an extra incentive for people to show up.
- Nikhef colloquia are held a few times per month on a wide range of topics. They target students, postdocs and scientific staff of all departments and usually take place on Fridays 11:00-12:00.