Behind the PhDnet logo

Behind the PhDnet logo

The current PhDnet logo is the result of a logo design contest among the doctoral researchers of the MPG. More than 34 doctoral researchers send in their designs. During the PhDnet meeting of 2018 all attending PhD representatives voted on their favorite design. The hexagonal logo designed by Merel Wolf, doctoral researcher at the MPI of Psycholinguistics in the Netherlands, received the most votes and became the new PhDnet logo. Below she explains her inspiration for the logo.

"The newly designed PhDnet logo consists of five entangled hexagons and a word mark of the Max Planck PhDnet in teal and grey colors, the characterizing colour scheme of the Max Planck Society.

The Max Planck PhDnet is a network for many different people. These people all have the common aspiration and purpose to become a researcher. Aside from commonalities, there is a lot of variation among these people: they do research within many different disciplines, have various nationalities and live in different countries and even continents. The PhDnet, a strong and well-connected network, allows these different people to get in touch, learn from each other and even collaborate in multi-disciplinary research. For this to succeed, the PhDnet must have three key components. First, it requires strong connections between each person to make reaching out to each other easier. Secondly, it needs to have short connections to ensure clear and fast communication. Lastly, it needs to be an efficient network from which many different people can benefit.

The hexagonal grid is the embodiment of these tree components. A hexagon is a strong structure that holds shape under a lot of pressure. Moreover, in a hexagonal grid each line is as short as possible to fill an area as large as possible. It is thus not only a shape that ensures proximity, but also a very efficient shape that uses few resources to be as connectable as possible.

The hexagonal object in the logo consists of five hexagons. These stand for the five disciplinary categories within the Max Planck Gesellschaft: Astronomy & Astrophysics, Biology & Medicine, Material & Technology, Environment & Climate and the Humanities. They also stand for the five different countries where a Max Planck Institute is situated: Germany, the Netherlands, Italy, Luxembourg and the USA. Lastly, the number five stands for the nationalities of the members of the Max Planck Institute. Without exception, all members come from one of the five continents: Africa, America’s, Asia, Europe and Oceania.

Hexagons can be found in many different scientific disciplines. For example, the hexagon is a geometric shape is studied within the field of mathematics. In physics, hexagons can be found in snowflakes and soap structures. In biology, hexagons are shapes often seen, for example in glucose molecules, beehives and turtle’s carapaces. In astronomy, hexagonal shapes occur as well: NASA for example has photographed a large hexagonal cloud on Saturn. Hexagons are an often-found structure in geology, in for example basalt formations or crystals.

Also in the humanities the hexagonal shape is commonly seen. Because of its symmetry, humans are automatically attracted to hexagonals, experiencing it as a pleasant shape. It is therefore not a surprise that hexagonals are a common subject in art, design, jewelry and fashion. In addition, hexagons can be found in many human-built structures. Think for example of architecture and telescope mirrors, but also of more day-to-day objects such as soccer balls."

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