Organization, People & Governance
There are people who students will likely interact with over the course of the PhD, and who can provide support or answer queries when the need arises. The sections below outline who they are and in what capacity they act.
The Dean has overall responsibility for the Graduate School and all PhD programs (currently only one) within the Graduate School. He is responsible for the overall strategic direction of the IST Austria Graduate School, and for mediating and making final decisions in all exceptional requests relating to students or their training. Examples of issues that require the Dean’s approval include change in supervisor, application for an external co-supervisor, or the approval of extension to examination deadlines.
The current Dean is Nick Barton (firstname.lastname@example.org).
The Program Chair is in charge of all matters relating to the PhD curriculum. In case a student would like to perform a 4th or a 5th rotation, if clarification on the interpretation of PhD program rules is needed, or if there are any exceptional requests pertaining to the PhD program requirements, the Program Chair’s approval is required.
The current Program Chair is Gasper Tkacik (email@example.com).
Faculty Track Representatives, or “Faculty Track Rep” for short, are responsible for shaping the curriculum and for the academic progress of students in their track; they are appointed by the President, in consultation with the Graduate School, typically for two years. They are supported by a Deputy Track Rep (appointed by the Graduate School), who is expected to take over as the next Track Rep.
There are six tracks, or discipline areas, in the PhD program: Biology, Computer Science, Data Science & Scientific Computing, Mathematics, Neuroscience, and Physics.
Students who plan to take courses within a particular track should consult the respective Track Rep to help decide which courses are the most suitable for the research area they wish to specialize in. This meeting should take place at the beginning of the academic year before the start of the first semester. Further information about Track Rep meeting times and office hours will be disseminated during the Student Orientation Period.
In addition to Faculty Track Reps, each track has a Student Track Rep who is appointed by the GSA representatives each year. Student Track Reps provide input to faculty on curricular issues and represent the voice of the students in curricular discussions.
Mentors are members of the faculty at IST who can provide students with general advice about navigating the PhD at IST Austria. Mentors are typically outside the immediate subject-area of the student.
Every incoming student is assigned a mentor, and students will be notified of who their mentor is during the Student Orientation period.
For a full list of faculty, please consult the section “Research Groups“.
The PhD supervisor must be an IST faculty member. From the time of affiliation until the thesis defense, a student’s supervisor is the most important support person. The supervisor has financial responsibility for the student, directs and supports the student in their thesis research, and is also part of the Thesis Committee.
Under the supervisor’s guidance, students will perform independent research in preparation for the qualifying exam and in Phase II. It is important that students communicate closely with their supervisors, and update them regularly on the progress of their PhD research. In addition to regular supervision meetings, the supervisor and members of the Thesis Committee will formally evaluate students in biannual progress reviews. The student’s continuation in the PhD program is conditional upon continually satisfactory progress reviews.
Joint supervision is also possible, where the project would benefit from support from two groups. In rare cases it may become necessary for students to change supervisors after affiliation.
The Graduate School Office (GSO) provides administrative support for all matters related to the PhD program. The GSO team members work closely with faculty members, the Dean, the Program Chair, Graduate Student Association representatives and other administrative staff, including Finance and Human Resources to ensure the smooth day-to-day running of the PhD Program.
Students are always welcome to approach any of the GSO team members if they have questions about the PhD program requirements, or any other generic inquiries. The GSO can be reached through firstname.lastname@example.org.
Our Welcome Services is a central figure of support – administrative or otherwise – starting before students even arrive at IST Austria and lasting throughout the first year, until students affiliate with a research group. He is the first point of contact for questions regarding business trips, travel reimbursements, housing advice, and visas or residence permits.
Support from Students
The Graduate Student Association (GSA) represents the students of the IST Austria Graduate School. For details about the Graduate Student Association, please see the section “Graduate Student Association”. Please also visit the GSA wiki page (only for IST-users).
There is a so-called “buddy system” for all incoming students whereby each new student is paired up with one of our current graduate students. Buddies are volunteers who will try their best to help you or point you in the right direction, in case you need help. Feel free to approach your “buddy” for advice, whether it be on life at IST Austria, or more generic issues pertaining to life in Austria.
Once a student affiliates with a research group, an important contact person will be the Assistant to Professors (A2P), who is assigned to several research groups to provide a limited amount of administrative support to research group members.
A regularly updated list of A2Ps and their assignment to research groups can be found on the Human Resources wiki page (only for IST-users).
In addition to the individuals listed above, IST Austria has an extensive conflict management system that aims to provide support in special situations ranging from interpersonal conflict, inappropriate workload, concerns regarding equity of treatment, scientific misconduct, and mental health issues. Students facing such (or related) issues are encouraged to first seek the advice of “Trusted Advisors”, IST Austria employees who can provide informal and confidential advice on how to proceed in a given situation. Trusted advisors can then refer the student to relevant further advisors, ranging from scientific ombudspersons, the good practice officer, and mental health counsellors.
More information on the persons and resources available as part of the Conflict Management System can be found on the Diversity and Inclusion and Help, support, advice at IST Austria wiki pages (only for IST-users).